Jan 03

Looking Back on A Busy 2022

Posted on January 3, 2023 at 3:55 PM by Dan Santoro

Turn on your TV or open your favorite news app and you’re guaranteed to see a story about a divisive issue.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into any of that here.

It’s easy to be distracted by national and state politics and the hot-button issues that dominate the headlines, and I don’t want to suggest that those issues are not important. However, local government typically has no ability to make changes in Federal and State policy issues.

That’s why in Cranberry Township, our Board of Supervisors and staff stay focused on what can be done at the local level that has a more immediate impact – and that we and our community can control.

In 2022, that focus helped the Cranberry community soar to new heights while creating exciting opportunities for our four pillars. The signs of success are all around the Township.

Projects in our parks like the new Rotary Dog Park and the Cranberry Township Community Chest’s Kids Castle Refresh are existing assets that improve the user experience. That’s the same mission of the Municipal Center Modernization project, which aims to expand and upgrade the community center and surrounding area to better suit our community.

These projects are not just happening through our Township offices. Our colleagues with the Seneca Valley School District unveiled the beautiful Ehrman Crest school campus, earning international recognition from “Time” magazine for their groundbreaking concepts. And dozens of new businesses cut ribbons in 2022, with a welcoming and eager community at the ready to support them.

That same community stepped up in 2022 – as they always do – to support each other and become even more involved in shaping Cranberry for the future.

The inaugural Community Leadership Institute of Cranberry was held, with a dozen residents getting a months-long, in-depth look at how our government functions. Elsewhere, volunteer efforts through our Snow and Leaf Angel programs put actual boots on the ground to help those in need. Service projects like the Blue Star Memorial Marker in North Boundary Park and the Rotary Peace Pole in the Municipal Center provide color to the Township canvass.

The collaboration and support extend to our business and non-profit communities, highlighted by the Township’s partnership with UPMC Passavant on a naming rights agreement for UPMC Passavant Sportsplex at Graham Park. It’s a perfect example of the great work that can be done when stakeholders come together for the greater good.

While these are exciting examples of Cranberry’s success, there’s also room for fun – and the community knows how to have fun.

We saw record numbers at our Waterpark, Farmers Market, and at CTCC Community Days. CranFest returned for the first time in two years, and Santa’s First Stop helped ring in the holiday season.

Other events were not just enjoyable but brought regional and national attention to the Township.

The Cranberry Township Pickleball Association hosted the 2022 USA Pickleball North Mid-Atlantic Diamond Regional, while the Disc Golf Pro Tour’s Butler County Disc Golf Classic was held at the Disc Golf Course in North Boundary Park.

All these things showcase what the Board and Township staff do each day to have a real impact on the community. We strive to keep our community safe by providing top-notch police, fire, and EMS services. We look for ways to improve, expand, and maintain our infrastructure, including Township roads and sewer and water system. We place an emphasis on using technology to improve traffic flow around the Township. We look for new ways to expand and upgrade our parks system. We work each day with developers to ensure our planning process is followed to the letter to maintain sustained, orderly development

These efforts help us create a financial healthy and sustainable future, which protects your investment as a resident or business owner. The Board of Supervisors sets the tone of staying focused on the things within our control and the priorities that make the Township a great place.

It’s a challenge taken seriously by our Board and exemplified by the excellent service of the late Dick Hadley, our longtime Board Chairman. His passing left a footprint of success that we are challenged to build upon, and we aspire to continue his legacy of pursuing great ideas and projects that better the community.

Using Dick’s passion, drive, and love of the community as a guide, our Board of Supervisors and Township staff will aim to make 2023 even more successful.

I hope your new year finds you in good health and prepared for new personal success. Remember that the Cranberry community is here for you and working hard to improve the quality of life for all.

Check out a video recap of an amazing year here: https://youtu.be/ky4le3kbuAM

Jan 12

Survey Says: Cranberry Is the Place to Be

Posted on January 12, 2022 at 10:54 AM by Dan Santoro

Why are you here?

Cranberry’s Board of Supervisors, administration and staff spend a lot of time and energy seeking the answers to that question. It’s a guiding query that helps our day-to-day work.

A recent editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette summed up our findings quite well.

“Tax rates, housing costs, transportation, growth potential, crime rates, climate, arts and culture, and access to services all influence population trends,” the piece states.

Based on those items, it’s no surprise Cranberry Township is a place people want to be.

The editorial is a response to data outlined in the 2020 Census, which shows that many communities in Western Pennsylvania are struggling to retain population. And in a domino effect, that impacts the quality of life for those who remain.

The reasons are many for this population loss and will undoubtedly be the subject of much discussion for the next decade.

Cranberry, however, bucks that trend. Preliminary numbers show what we’ve expected and planned to address for decades: continued, measured, sustained growth. The Township grew by nearly 5,000 residents over the last decade. It’s the largest growth seen by any municipality in the region, according to data highlighted in the Post-Gazette.

It further confirms the adage that if you aren’t growing, you’re dying. And that slow death has tangible effects, as outlined in the Post-Gazette editorial.

“Economically, population decline can undermine local tax bases and erode basic services, as well as infrastructure, police and fire services, electricity grids and quality schools. Pennsylvania is already struggling to care for its elderly residents,” the editorial states. “Population decline also means a growing imbalance between workers and retirees.”

In summation, “these trends will continue, unless local and state governments, working with the private sector, do something about them.”

That’s something our Board of Supervisors has been doing for decades. They have been proactive in preparing for this expected growth since the mid-1990s, and have been committed to maintaining high quality public services, improving infrastructure and expanding parks and recreation offerings.

The 2020 Census not only shows that we’ve planned accordingly for growth, but further proves that what we’re doing is working. Through community partnerships and hard work, we continue to be a place where residents and businesses want to call home.

Sustained growth will continue, and we continue to make sure the Township’s services and roadways are equipped to handle our new neighbors. We hope you’ll welcome them with open arms to Cranberry – a place where people want to be.

And while we perhaps didn’t need data to prove that it’s just one more way of reminding us we’re on the right path forward - for today and for decades to come.

Dec 31

Big Changes During a Trying Year

Posted on December 31, 2021 at 8:36 AM by Dan Santoro

It’s easy to look back on 2021 and only remember the trials and challenges.

Without a doubt, the past year has been full of hurdles as we deal with the ongoing pandemic and its impact on seemingly every aspect of our daily lives.

But there’s also much to celebrate, and in Cranberry Township that celebration comes in all forms. From the completion of large projects to simply being able to gather as a community once again, we were fortunate enough to return to normalcy in many ways.

After taking a break in 2020, events like Community Days, Santa’s First Stop, and the Memorial Day ceremony returned. The Township Farmers Market grew, building on its 2020 success. New events like the Easter Bunny Tour of our Township parks added a new tradition for residents young and old.

The parks themselves were perhaps busier than ever as youth sports returned in force. Our Waterpark was consistently full of cheerful swimmers and divers. For the first time, dogs were permitted on the trails at North Boundary Park, with owners taking full advantage. Ground was broken on a new, expanded dog area in Community Park, with a grand opening forthcoming in 2022.

And speaking of openings, many long-planned projects wrapped up, improving the quality of life for our residents and visitors.

The MSA Thruway is already having a positive impact on traffic flow on Route 228, while the opening of the Freedom Road Turnpike Bridge over the Pennsylvania Turnpike is the first step in a multi-year commitment to expanding the roadway. That’s not to mention a complete rebuild  of a section of Freshcorn Road, the Rochester Road widening and PennDOT’s repaving efforts on Route 19 and the completion of bridge work on Interstate 79 above North Boundary Road.

While the orange cones and barrels were perhaps a hassle this year, the result was improved infrastructure that will have a lasting impact.

Elsewhere, a new Burn Building at the Township’s Public Safety Training Center will give our first responders incomparable opportunities for hands-on training. They wasted no time this year gathering colleagues from around the region – and even worked to involve potential future firefighters.

Ribbons were also cut on two projects backed by the Cranberry Township Community Chest: the Public Library Makerspace and the Rotary Amphitheatre in Community Park. Both opened to major fanfare and will be major assets to the Township for decades to come.

Both of those projects could not have happened without the support of the community, which again came together in 2021 to help those in need. From our Snow and Leaf Angel programs to volunteer cleanup efforts, our residents and businesses were there to answer the call whenever the phone rings.

That, to me, will be the lasting memory of 2021. As I wrap up my first year as your Township Manager, I’m humbled and inspired by the commitment and dedication of the Cranberry community to help one another. There is no project too large or small, and never a shortage of people waiting to get involved to make our community better.

On behalf of our Township staff and our Board of Supervisors, I thank you for your efforts in making 2021 a banner year for Cranberry Township. I am excited for what 2022 and beyond holds for the future of our great community.