Although 2020 was a tough year, Washington Township was able to find new and creative ways to bring in business, connect with residents and start on new projects.
As the township continues into the new year, there are projects the mayor looks forward to, while others are up in the air due to COVID-19.
“Twenty-twenty, as we know, is the year that we are leaving behind, but we were still very busy,” said Mayor Joann Gattinelli. “As far as the economic development is concerned, we still have quite a few projects that we are working on that will carry over into 2021.
“We are really excited about that.”
Gattinelli was reelected to another four-year term in November.
“For myself, I just want to say that I am excited for the next four years,” she said. “I appreciate the position that I am in and I am looking forward to getting back out and being able to provide all the services.”
The Jan. 4 council meeting was to include swearing-in ceremonies for Gattinelli, Richard DellaPia and Richard Bennet. Council also said goodbye to President Joseph Perry and Dana Pasqualone.
“The last four years, we have all come together and we have gotten a lot done,” Gattinelli noted. “I want to thank them for their service and dedication and everything they have done to help better Washington Township.”
Despite some council reorganization and a pandemic, residents of the
township will once again look at a “flat line” for 2021 taxes.
“Moving into the new year, I can only say it is not anticipated that there (are) going to be any tax increases at this time,” Gattinelli revealed. “We are going to review everything and we have been working on a budget moving into 2021, and we are trying to reduce any spending and really tighten the belt.”
New businesses and projects that came to fruition in 2020 included revitalization of the Black Horse Pike and Delsea Drive corridor. New plans include welcoming businesses to the buildings on Black Horse Pike, as well as two monument projects waiting for approvals and groundbreaking.
“We are excited about that,” Gattinelli enthused. “It is going to draw folks into the town and it is going to allow for advertisements for the businesses that are already in town. It is a beautiful structure.”
Another area of focus in 2021 is the Delsea Drive corridor. According to Gattinelli, the Wawa project on that road is expected to be finished by the end of the new year.
Washington Lake Park has been a sanctuary for township residents during the pandemic. It saw numerous additions last year, from murals to parking lots. This year, the township will work on adding additional lighting there.
“We were very successful with the concerts in the park over the summer,” the mayor said. “We were able to provide space, and I am very happy and proud of our public works department and how they have been able to establish safety for all.”
For the past few months, the grassy area by the park’s amphitheater was covered in spray painted boxes that allowed for social distance during movie nights and concerts.
“Families came out with the wagons and children and sat in their boxes. They were able to enjoy movies and they were able to enjoy concerts,” Gattinelli noted.
Washington Township Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik and the mayor started new programs last year to help minority communities, as well as those facing addiction. According to Gattinelli, other plans and programs are in the works.
“Chief and I have had numerous conversations about it, and we are trying to stay ahead: We are trying to be in the forefront in reference to that,” Gattinelli explained.
“As we come into 2021, we will be able to share a little bit more information, but there are definitely going to be a lot of things on the horizon that we are working on to make it the best year possible in 2021.”
Due to COVID-19, the mayor could not nail down all details regarding activities and events in 2021, but she is confident that 2021 will be better.
“I am looking forward to working with my team again and continuing everything that we have done so far,” Gattinelli predicted. “We are looking forward to a brand new year, and hopefully this will be a much better year than 2020.
“I can’t wait to surround ourselves with friends and family again and move into the new year taking a new perspective.”