It wasn’t terribly long ago that well-meaning organizations and opinion leaders all around the state would routinely cite Cranberry Township as an example of sprawl, runaway growth, and lack of planning. After all, they reasoned, the only way a community in this region could expand so quickly, despite a contracting economy, would have to be that it was a lawless, wild western kind of outpost – one that acted as though it didn’t need to concern itself with the dreary burden of debt, politics, taxes and restrictive covenants which hobbled so many other municipalities in our area.
Of course, we never really fit that description, although it had been a genuine risk about 20 years ago. But nothing dies harder than a reputation – whether deserved or not. So we have been stuck with it for some time now. However there are signs that people’s perceptions are changing.
The comprehensive plan we adopted last year has now been honored by influential organizations including the American Planning Association and the Smart Growth Partnership. Our environmental efforts have been given the top award by the State Department of Education’s Earth Day Awareness program. A number of our department heads have been invited to present their work to various professional associations across the country. And we learned last week that John Milius – a Cranberry Township Supervisor who had served for 18 years until just this past January, is being honored by 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania – an organization which had previously looked down on Cranberry as an example of what’s wrong in our state. Today, they’re using Cranberry Township and the efforts of people like John Milius as an example of how to do it right.
So we’re really pleased that our peers are coming around to realize that it really is possible to be smart about building a successful community. And we’re flattered that they now see Cranberry as a model.