New Garden appoints Ramsey Reiner as new township manager
By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
There are, as of yet, no photographs of Ramsey Reiner’s two children in her new office at the New Garden Township Building, where she was recently named as the township’s new manager.
In fact, her office owns the sparseness of someone who began a new job four days before – which in Reiner’s case, was accurate at the time she sat down for an interview – but while there are books, files, mementos and photographs that wait to occupy their rightful place, Reiner has already embraced the weight of a new job that will help steer the future of a township and its nearly 13,000 residents.
Reiner, who replaced Tony Scheivert as the township’s manager, is no stranger to municipal government, and arrives in New Garden on the weight of a 14-year career that began when she was an administrative assistant at Edgmont Township. From there, she served as an administrator at West Bradford Township, Exeter Township and the City of Reading, and most recently, she served as the borough manager for South Coatesville. In each capacity, Reiner connected ideas with initiatives by forming partnerships between local government, the business community, local artists, volunteers, committees and foundations.
“When I was working at Edgmont Township, I realized very early on that the position gave me the opportunity to work with a small community and create and grow along with it,” she said. “I am by nature the kind of person who enjoys engaging people and showing them what’s possible, and wherever I see things that can be done better, I want to be a part of that.
“I have been fortunate to work in several different fields of local government throughout my career that have given me several opportunities to engage on a micro-level with residents, consultants and other local officials,” she added. “There is nothing better than helping communities accomplish their goals or to help them find goals that they may have been unaware existed.”
As an example, Reiner managed the restoration of the historic spring house in the City of Reading.
“It’s nice to be able to look back and tell your children, ‘I worked with others to help save that historic structure,’” she said. “I have been able to measure my career in municipal government by being able to give back little gifts to the people who place their faith in me.”
A resident of West Bradford Township whose children attend Upland Country Day School, Reiner makes that country road commute to work for a township that continues to define itself by its accomplishments – its recent purchase of St. Anthony in the Hills, the completion of the new home for the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department and the impending sale of its wastewater system to Aqua Pa. for $29.5 million immediately come to mind.
Progress and the status quo
And yet, like many of its neighboring municipalities, New Garden Township finds itself deep in the thicket of a thorny tussle between progress and the status quo -- a long and running conversation that has tossed developers into the same ring with conservationists and the N-I-M-B-Y folks who quiver at the sight of even the most unobtrusive backhoe plunging into township soil.
Reiner inherits this conversation at arguably its highest pitch.
In two presentations before large audiences at the Township Building in December, JP Morgan Chase unveiled its plans to develop a 200-acre project on the north and south sides of Route 41. Tentatively known as White Clay Point – friendlier, more localized names are being pitched -- the proposed development will stretch from Reynolds Road to the south, Sunny Dell Road to the west and Sharp Road to the north that will include a total 356 residential units – 182 single-family homes, 60 townhouses and 114 apartments.
On its southern end, the planned development will include 95 lots that will be used as town homes and single-family homes.
The town center will also include 222,000 square feet dedicated to commercial development and three mixed-use buildings that will be used for retail, offices and apartments. Two buildings, sized at 26,000 square feet, will include 42 apartment units each, and the third, sized at 18,000 square feet, will include 30 apartments. It will include a main entrance on Route 41 and a second entrance on Sunny Dell Road, as well as an emergency access to Reynolds Road.
In addition, JP Morgan Chase's plans include a 65,000 square-foot retail food store, a potential 55,000 square-foot indoor training facility and a possible outdoor multi-purpose athletic field.
Any way the proposed development is picked apart and examined, both the impact and the imprint of its construction will be large enough to change the social and residential identity of the township forever. While Reiner understands that the ultimate and proper navigation of White Clay Point on the township level rests with its five supervisors, her job, she said, will be to give proper voice to every stakeholder.
“Obviously, you have to toe the line, because it is a balance, but you can’t have one without the other, and we all have to be mindful of that,” she said. “Often, development comes with law and legalities, but there are ways to work on these using public input and communication.
“It’s important to understand everyone’s side of the story in order to come up with a creative solution,” Reiner added. “I know that New Garden has a successful open space review board and a township-wide dedication to preserving open space, but there is also active development occurring at the same time. It’s all about partnerships, but ultimately, it needs to compliment what the residents are looking for.”
While the township waits to cross the Ts and dot the Is on the impending sale of its wastewater system to Aqua Pa., adding an additional $29.5 million from the sale presents the township with not only a major financial windfall, but the happy and necessary problem of determining where and how the money will be distributed throughout the township.
Proper and responsible distribution, Reiner said, will involve not only input from the township’s supervisors, but from its residents.
“While I admit that this will be a large windfall, there needs to be a very clear plan as to where that money goes,” she said, “but because it is money for the taxpayers of this township, their voice needs to remain front and center in terms of where that money should be directed.
“This isn’t just money for the five people on the Board of Supervisors. This is money for the 12,800 people who live in New Garden Township.”
Over the course of her career in municipal government, Reiner has witnessed the progress of the municipalities she has served come not just from sound leadership, but from committed groups of residents who join commissions, volunteer at events, attend meetings and write letters to their elected officials. Less than a week on her new job, she has already corresponded with several of the township’s “quiet warriors” and hopes that their numbers will continue to grow.
“I have always appreciated these people, because they’re often the ones who are telling us what’s wrong,” Reiner said. “Sometimes I am tethered to a desk, and I don’t know everything that’s going on outside of this office, and so I am grateful for their input, their enthusiasm in directing me to the issues that need to be addressed.
“They’re the ones who help shape the direction of a township, and by communicating their concerns with me, it allows me to share their concerns with the board.”
A successful township manager, Reiner said, has the ability to engage three parties simultaneously -- municipal government, prospective business interests and the community – and steer all three forward in a common goal.
“If there is an opportunity that presents even an inkling of an idea that could benefit New Garden Township, I will find a way to make it happen,” she said. “There is always an opportunity to do more and to give more to the community, and I am constantly on the lookout for ways to streamline or create, in order to make these visions come to life.
“Where some people see empty lots, I see opportunities.”
To contact New Garden Township Manager Ramsey Reiner, email email@example.com.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.