ROUZERVILLE–When Washington Township opens the doors to its new headquarters next month, “it will be for the people of the township … to take this municipality into the next 50 years.
“This is to provide services for the township and we’re hoping that everyone is happy and understands that we needed it,” added manager Jeff Geesaman. “The building is going to serve the township well.”
Construction on the 12,120-square-foot building at 11798 Buchanan Trail East began in April 2022 and officials will hold the first public meeting there June 5.
An open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 15, with a ribbon cutting ceremony set for 10:30 a.m.
The $5.7 million headquarters is located on a 3.7-acre tract that was sold to the township for $1 by Alma Oyer. “We had $1.5 million in a capital budget building fund – we’ve been putting money in that account for 20 years for a new building – and a $2 million RACP (Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program) loan and for the rest we have a 30-year mortgage with F&M Bank,” noted Geesaman.
The building will house the police department, administrative and planning and zoning departments, and offices for the tax collector, building inspector and code enforcement officer. In addition to the main building, there is a 12-bay carport for police vehicles.
The public works department will remain at the township’s property on Welty Road. “There is room on this (Buchanan Trail East) property for Phase 2, which has been conceptually designed, and we have all the permitting for stormwater management, etc. That will be constructed in a couple of years at the rear of the property off Broad Street (in Rouzerville),” according to Geesaman.
The building project was “talked about at every meeting for years,” he added. “We really haven’t had any negativity since we started it. Anyone who has been to our offices knows we absolutely needed a new building. We were actually in two separate buildings, with a little over 10,000 square feet of space. This will be much more efficient.
“You had to leave the office and go outside to go to the meeting room, where there were no bathrooms. It just wasn’t laid out for traffic,” he added.
Geesaman recently gave a tour of the new facility to the Webelos from Cub Scout Pack 19. The boys were working on a merit badge and wanted to visit a construction site.
“The boys were very attentive and asked some very good questions,” Geesaman said.
Shortly after the building opens, Geesaman will celebrate his July 28 retirement after six and a half years at the post. He will be succeeded by assistant manager Vernon Ashway.
“I want to take some time for myself, spend more time with our six grandkids, and go camping and travel,” added Geesaman, 68. He also wants to do more hunting and enjoys shooting clay birds. “I’ll probably do something part-time. If the township has a bridge to redo or a construction job, I’d be glad to help.”
Geesaman began his career with the township as assistant manager. “I have construction and road building experience and also have a lot of municipal experience and worked in public works in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” he noted.
Geesaman and Jim Rock founded Geesaman-Rock Construction Company (now GRC General Contractor) and he was involved in the business for 10 years. “Then I went to Valley Quarries, where I was general superintendent of road construction crews.” Geesaman also worked nine years at Lobar Inc., where he managed the building of bridges.
“I ran for (Washington Township) supervisor and was elected in 2010. When (former manager) Mike Christopher retired in 2014 and we were interviewing people, one of the supervisors looked at me – we were getting ready to build the (Washington Township) boulevard – and said, Why don’t you take the job?’”
Geesaman, who also was a member of the board of directors of WTMA Washington Township Municipal Authority) for 16 years, including eight as chairman, said that experience “helped provide extensive knowledge of how townships and the bidding process works.”
“I just kind of laughed it off, but when I talked to my wife Patti, she said, ‘Why don’t you take it? I was working 16 to 17 hours a day at Lobar, thought about it, and the rest is history. I told them I would stay eight years and the time is up.”
Geesaman recently joined the board of directors at Waynesboro Early Learning Center and is active in Rotary Club. “I’m not going to fold up and go away. I have enjoyed this job … I’ve lived here all my life and am proud of Washington Township … what has been done and what we’re continuing to do. For the most part, I like dealing with people. You always have the dirty dozen,” joked Geesaman, “those people who you couldn’t make happy no matter what you did.”