EDITORIAL: Spring Garden debate is also good government

York Dispatch
  • Spring Garden Township is considering a new municipal complex.
  • The proposal could cost as much as $21 million.
  • A group called Friends of Spring Garden Township is opposed to that price tag.
  • The next township meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Sometimes our government actually works the way our founders intended.

Yes, that's hard to believe in this day and age of dysfunction and discord.

Shawn Schlenz speaks during a Spring Garden Township Board of Commissioners meeting on March 8, 2017. There is currently a lively debate going on in the township about the need for a new, combined municipal complex.

Still, right here in York County, we're getting an up-close look at our civic process in operation, warts and all.

It's not always pretty and seldom efficient, but it remains the best way to do the public business.

Spring Garden Township, if you haven't heard, is contemplating the creation of a new municipal complex that could cost as much as $21 million.

It's an idea that's been floated, in one form or another, for nearly two decades.

The current proposal under consideration by the board of commissioners would build the municipal complex on a 56-acre property already owned by the township at 1799 Mount Rose Ave. The planned facility would combine the recreation, police and administrative departments, which are currently split, with the recreation and police departments at 340 Tri Hill Road and the administration building at 558 S. Ogontz St.

A preliminary study estimated the new municipal campus, which would include a gymnasium, would cost a homeowner with a house assessed at $171,700 an additional $194 per year in property taxes, according to a detailed FAQ document on the proposal on the township website.

Citizen opposition: Given the potential cost, it should not be surprising that the plan has met considerable resistance.

A petition against the proposal, created by a group called Friends of Spring Garden Township, is approaching 1,500 signatures (nearly 900 on paper and more than 500 online). At the township meeting in March, more than 100 citizens showed up to voice their opinions on the project, with most registering their opposition.

Sean Clark, a member of Friends of Spring Garden Township, says his group is not opposed to better township facilities. The cost, however, is another matter.

Petition against Spring Garden Twp. municipal complex grows

“Our position is that the police and township should have better working conditions,” he said. But the current plan “just doesn't seem very responsible.”

Clark believes there are cheaper options that would still adequately do the job.

Government working as it should: The next township meeting is 7 p.m. Wednesday at the  municipal center at 340 Tri Hill Road. Another big crowd seems likely, and a lively discussion will probably take place.

That is exactly how government is supposed to work.

The township commissioners appear to be operating in an open and transparent manner. The FAQ document clearly details why the project is believed to be necessary.

The township's citizens, meanwhile, are engaged and committed. That's a truly welcome sign. Far too often, the community at large is sadly apathetic about local government.

This is exactly how democracy is supposed to work.

Performing their civic duties: Both sides — the government officials and the citizens — are performing their civic duties.

In the end, a compromise will hopefully be reached. It will not satisfy everyone. It might not even satisfy most of the concerned parties.

The governmental process, however, is never perfect.

It operates best, however, when the elected officials and the residents both faithfully fulfill their obligations as citizens.

That is happening right now in Spring Garden Township — warts and all.