Chester County Planning Commission Executive Director Brian O’Leary and officials from two local townships received awards from Governor Tom Wolf for their dedication to strengthening communities and providing assistance to residents.
“It’s a great honor receiving this award along with the other honorees, and it’s wonderful to see the state acknowledge the work done by so many people at the local level to improve our communities,” Brian said.
Brian, along with East Goshen and Kennett townships, were among 10 government officials and 11 communities from across Pennsylvania that received awards in Harrisburg on April 12 as part of the 21st Annual Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence.
The Chester County Board of Commissioners recognized Brian’s accolade at last week’s Sunshine Meeting. Commissioners’ Chair Michelle Kichline noted, “In addition to his dedication to public service, Brian was recognized for providing many opportunities to collaborate and share best practices. He is currently leading our Landscapes3 comprehensive plan development process, which is built upon partnerships with teams of people who provide input on the key topics, as well as members of the public who are joining in the conversation, both in person and through our surveys. This is a perfect example of how Brian – and Chester County – is strengthening our community through collaboration.”
Brian has over 25 years of experience with community planning and smart growth initiatives and has worked on planning projects at the local, county, and statewide levels throughout his career. He is a government board representative for the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance and the past president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association. He has a certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners.
Kennett Township was honored in the “Building Community Partnerships” category. The township purchased a 45-acre property and created the first-ever passive recreation park and two dog parks with mowed perimeter and internal trails, community gardens, a children’s play area, a variety of meadows, and an orchard, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
In addition, this project utilized Transfer of Development Rights for the first time in the township, according to Kennett Township Manager Lisa Moore. The development rights are being used to create a mixed-use, affordable quality housing development in the township, she said.
“We were ecstatic to receive the reward,” said Lisa. “It was fulfilling to know that our hard work was recognized by the governor.”
East Goshen Township was honored in the “Health and Wellness Initiatives” category. The township was recognized for the “Fit and Fun in the Park” initiative, which addresses physical and mental health and wellness.
“We saw the need in the community to provide an outlet for health and wellness and combat obesity,” said East Goshen Township Department of Parks and Recreation Director Jason Lang.
Jason said his department reached out to the township supervisors who approved the program. There were eight activities for residents of all ages and 1,400 participants last year. The events took place throughout the entire summer since it was meant to be a lifestyle initiative that could be incorporated on a grander scale, according to Jason.
The program will continue every year and include different activities and a new mantra that will be chosen by residents.
“We are pleased to be recognized and happy that our efforts received the award, and we’ll share it with the local community,” Jason said.