Officials took another another step Thursday night to merge the Springdale Township and Cheswick police departments by July 1.
The Springdale Township commissioners voted 4-0 to advertise an ordinance that would consolidate the two departments.
Cheswick Council already passed a similar measure.
So both municipalities appear on track to have what will be called the Allegheny Valley Police Department.
Officials expect it to start operating by July 1.
“We have met for the last 15 months with Cheswick to discuss this,” said township Commissioner Shirley Redman. “We’ve developed a budget, and our township will save $130,000 per year.”
A public hearing will be held at a later date yet to be determined.
Plans call for the new department’s name to be painted on the patrol cars. New uniform patches and logos will be developed.
Mike Naviglia, who currently serves as police chief of both departments, told residents that there are plans to have two officers and a supervisor on duty 90 percent of the time.
One proposal would be to divide the coverage area into zones.
Zone 1 would cover the Allegheny riverfront in Cheswick to Route 28. Zone 2 would be the remainder of the township, starting near the New Kensington Bridge.
This year, Springdale Township has $356,000 budgeted for police services and Cheswick $316,000.
Officials said the new department would have a $500,000 budget.
Residents’ opinions mixed
Residents of both municipalities have differing opinions on the merger.
Springdale Township resident Don Klebine spoke vehemently against it, claiming that a combined force would cost $1 million per year and that four or five new officers and a police secretary will be hired.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to stop this merger,” Klebine said.
Nicole Tomayko, also of Springdale Township, said it would be more beneficial for the municipalities to have their own departments.
“I think that there’s too much going on around here for them to merge right now,” she said. “I don’t think it’s safe for the community.
“There have been a few robberies in the area, things that are happening around here that didn’t used to happen. I really think that’s just because the police that are on duty are on overload.”
Naviglia reminded residents that both municipalities have had a mutual aid agreement since the 1960s.
He said that Springdale Township’s municipal building will serve as the main police station and Cheswick’s borough building will serve as a substation.
Cheswick Councilman Michael Girardi was on hand. He voiced his support of the consolidation and offered to answer residents’ concerns.
“We’re very excited,” Girardi said. “It’s a great opportunity for our community and it will improve the quality of police services.”
Debra Caldwell, owner of Perfect Endings Family Salon in Cheswick, said the merger will be a good thing if Naviglia is in charge.
“When my place got robbed on March 2, he was here immediately,” Caldwell said. “He worked extremely hard to find out who robbed my place, and he just didn’t give up until he found him.”
Cheswick resident David Studeny said he and his wife were at first skeptical of the merger. But after receiving information about it from Cheswick Council President Paul Jack, they changed their minds.
“In my mind it’s going to be all around more beneficial,” Studeny said. “Based on the statistics, they are saying that we’re pretty much going to get the same coverage.”
Cheswick to join Allegheny Valley Fire Co.
Also, commissioners Thursday night voted 4-0 to accept Cheswick’s letter of intent to consolidate their fire services with the existing Allegheny Valley Fire Company, a merger of Springdale Township and Harmar fire companies implemented several years ago.