At the July 9 Upper Moreland Community Development Committee meeting, John DiMarzio, president of the Willow Grove Chamber of Commerce, presented a resolution he hoped would be adopted by the full board of commissioners.
His presentation took place during the Willow Grove Chamber of Commerce’s Redevelopment Report, an ongoing item on the committee’s agenda.
DiMarzio read the chamber’s resolution as follows:
“The Board of Directors of the Willow Grove Chamber of Commerce recommends that the Upper Moreland Board of Commissioners develop and unanimously adopt a resolution that proactively supports the redevelopment and revitalization of Willow Grove and Upper Moreland Township as a top priority.”
“We all appreciate the job you’ve done in the past couple of years,” DiMarzio told the committee.
He cited a list of major construction that recently took place within the township, from Giant, and its gas station; to Sonic, as well as the nearly complete Miller’s Ale House, further up Easton Road.
DiMarzio continued to say, however, that the chamber would like to see future construction focus especially on revitalization and redevelopment.
“We’re here to support you and work with you with every step of the way,” DiMarzio said, speaking for the chamber. “Just give us a starting point, we’d like to have that resolution adopted, and show the rest of the world that we’re open for business.”
First to respond to the presentation was Ward 1 commissioner Lisa Romaniello, who explained that the board of commissioners has never been “anti-development.”
“We have a process in place to help developers,” Romaniello said. “We want to make sure that everything that does come through, is the best for the community.”
Romaniello assured the chamber that the township has sufficient zoning, coupled with a developer application process, to ensure township growth. She added, however, that commissioners may not unanimously approve each developers’ plans, suggesting that each ward’s constituents may not approve of the plan.
Ward 3 commissioner Donna Parsell followed, saying that she would be in favor of adopting the chamber’s resolution, calling the relationship between chamber and township a “good partnership.” She further pointed out that redevelopment also consist of the township’s ability to continue providing services to residents, which would help keep and grow revenue.
According to Ward 6 commissioner Sam Valenza, who spoke next, reminded the committee that the chamber had created a comprehensive study on township redevelopment, nearly 3 years ago, titled
In this lengthy report, the chamber suggested a number of ways to bring about redevelopment, particularly by courting the private sector.
Valenza also recalled, within this document, a similar resolution as expressed by DiMarzio that evening.
“One of the first things it says to do is just develop a resolution that we are in favor of redevelopment and revitalization of the downtown,” Valenza said. “Be committed, period.”
He added that commissioners would have to agree to each developer’s plans on a case-by-case basis.
Speaking on the “Path to Success” document, Joe Lavalle, chairman of the committee and Ward 4 commissioner, said that there was great energy surrounding the document when it first was presented. He thanked DiMarzio for the same zeal presented to the committee that evening.
“Once we lose the energy, we lose the will,” Lavalle said. “In a stressed environment, we have to be practical, we have to be innovative, and hopefully we can mend the two together for a vision of moving forward, rather than standing still.”
For more information about the Willow Grove Chamber of Commerce, visit the chamber’s new website at www.willowgrovechamber.org/.