HOPEWELL VALLEY: Pennington and Hopewell officials detail future plans for community

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A sense of community and business partnership were common themes during the Mayor’s Breakfast Address on Tuesday at the Hopewell Golf and Country Club.

Hopewell Borough Mayor Paul Anzano, Hopewell Township Mayor Kevin Kuchinski and Pennington Borough Administrator Eileen Heinze, who filled in for Mayor Anthony Persichilli, spoke to members of the public and the local business community to reflect on the work that has been done so far, and what future plans lie ahead for Hopewell and Pennington.

All three representatives touched on redevelopment plans — Hopewell Borough recently adopted a redevelopment ordinance, Anzano said, which will allow property owners to work with local government to revive the properties, so they can be used in “a much more efficient and economically, beneficial way.”

Through this influence and collaborative work with local businesses, Anzano is looking forward to see how the borough will evolve further.

Over the past 15 years, Anzano said he has seen the Borough grow exponentially, with businesses “stepping up” and investing in the borough, making it a more vibrant community.

“I feel lucky that I’m the mayor and have all these great tools and people working with us to really move the Borough even further forward,” he said.

Heinze said that a nearly-10 acre space near East Delaware Avenue and Broemel Place, once used as the municipal landfill, is also being considered for redevelopment.

“We live in a beautiful area, and we should be investing in the places that we have,” she said. “We have a committee of volunteers in town who are working with me and others to work on a redevelopment plan.”

Additionally, Kuchinski said the redevelopment of Pennytown is in progress. With this plan, Hopewell Township hopes to strengthen current businesses in that area, as well as attract new ones.

Kuchinski detailed financial improvements in Hopewell Township, as well, stating that the 2018 operating budget is 1 percent lower than it was in 2017, and — despite inflation — it’s lower than it was in 2015. In terms of taxes, Hopewell Township delivered a tax rate increase of 1.59 percent, compared to the 6.3 percent increase the township has faced in the prior three years.

He also announced a multi-year program to reduce the debt in Hopewell Township — 20 percent of the township budget goes toward paying off past purchases, he said.

“I made a commitment that we’re going to stop kicking the can down the road and we’re going to reduce debt, and since 2014, we’ve cut 20 percent of the township debt and we continue to make progress each year,” he said. “Our residents and business owners charged us to do three things when I first came to office: get spending under control, fight for lower taxes and reduce township debt. And I’m proud to say that we have done all three.”

As for future plans, Kuchinski noted that a charging station for electric cars will soon be offered, as well as plans to form an Economic and Tourism Committee, which will help market the “assets” of the township and bring more attention to local businesses, restaurants and farms.

“Hopewell Township and the valley already have incredible recreation resources, everything from our trail system, the Delaware River and parks and preserves such as Rosedale Park,” he said. “The key is that we can bring in more people to Hopewell Township; I think it will contribute to an even stronger community.”

Kuchinski also shared plans to bring a new community and senior center to Hopewell Township — in partnership with the Pennington and Hopewell Boroughs — which was met with applause from those in attendance.

“Over the past six-to-nine months, the committee has been touring other area centers and community centers,” he said. “We’re looking for ideas, how we can operate in the most efficient and smart way and what services are the most critical.”

The center will feature amenities such as an indoor recreation center and an indoor pool.

The three town representatives all expressed the common goal of helping new and existing local businesses of Hopewell and Pennington succeed, all while serving the community in a positive way.

Heinze said in Pennington Borough “the idea that we can keep a small downtown where people want to come and visit and experience old-fashion downtown is what our vision is, and I think the people that live in our community are very much committed to supporting that.”