Development, infrastructure and a commitment to communication and dialogue with township residents are core priorities for Orange Township trustees in 2020.
Trustee Debbie Taranto pointed to work on Orange Road between U.S. Route 23 and the Norfolk Southern/CSX railroad tracks as a significant project for the township during the coming year.
The project, which partners the township with the Delaware County engineer's office, will see Orange Road widened to five lanes and will include the installation of traffic signals at North Central, Highfield and Green Meadows drives.
Additionally, a new signal is planned for the intersection of Orange Road and Blue Holly Drive east of the railroad tracks.
Taranto said although no plan is in place, she will begin advocating in earnest for an underpass for Orange Road at the railroad tracks in the coming year.
"It's a major traffic connector and ultimately feeds traffic to five schools," Taranto said. "It's a big deal."
Trustees also pointed to work recently begun on an extension of Home Road. The nearly 1-mile-long, four-lane stretch will run east from the current intersection of Home Road and Route 23 to extensions of Graphics Way and Green Meadow Drive to just west of the railroad tracks. Work is expected to be completed this year.
While a significant portion of the new road will run through the already planned Orange Grand Communities, a residential community of more than 300 primarily rental units, the long-awaited extension would open up new options for motorists and for development, trustee Ryan Rivers said.
"It's a critical piece of infrastructure," he said. "I expect things to move quickly."
Rivers also reiterated a commitment to bringing new commercial development into the township.
"A big focus has been to diversify our tax base, and to do that, we need more commercial (development)," Rivers said.
He said trustees will work with the Delaware County Economic Development office to identify opportunities for development, in particular along the Route 23 corridor.
New trustee Ben Grumbles -- who beat Lisa Knapp in November's election and replaced her on the board this month -- said "smart" development was a core tenet of his campaign, and that he will work with the two incumbent trustees and with residents to achieve a broader tax base.
Grumbles also said communication was a topic that came up in his meetings with residents during the campaign, and Taranto highlighted the need to both inform and engage residents in the workings of the township in new and better ways.
Taranto mentioned the township's recently updated website as a good first step in this process.
Other projects Taranto expects to see movement on during 2020 are renovations to the Township Hall and the development of a veterans memorial near the corner of Orange and South Old State roads.