New Park Dedicated to Retired Police Chief Joseph Catov
Under a gorgeous blue sky, surrounded by leaves just beginning to turn for the fall, on October 21, 2021, West Whiteland Township dedicated our newest park to retired Police Chief Joseph Catov Jr. The gratitude and respect were evident among the roughly thirty retired and current Police Department and Township employees, active and previous Township supervisors, and family and friends. All admired the brand-new baseball field and softball field, and Catov’s granddaughter enjoyed the new playground equipment at what was previously referred to as Boot Road Park North. Even Chief Catov’s grand dog, Jager, must have sensed something special was happening as he stood quietly by taking it all in.
Joe dedicated forty-two years to West Whiteland Township, starting in 1978 as a Patrolman, then serving as Detective, Detective Sergeant and Lieutenant before being appointed Chief of Police in 2013, where he served until his retirement in 2020. Ralph Burton, WWT Chief of Police from 1999-2010, spoke at the ceremony, saying “Joe was the obvious choice, a no-brainer when he was promoted to Detective. I had every confidence that Joe would solve a case, no matter how bad. Joe was absolutely relentless and an incredibly hard worker.”
Township Manager Mimi Gleason shared her thoughts on the six years she spent working with Catov: “Joe was an absolute pleasure to work with. He embodies professionalism, humility and cooperation. Joe is what every person in this country wants as a good police officer.”
Burton pointed out that “West Whiteland Township Police Department has a long history of excellence.” One of Chief Catov’s furthest reaching goals was to get the Township’s Police Department accredited. More important than ever in this time of increased focus on police accountability, that goal came to fruition in 2018 when the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission (PLEAC) awarded accreditation after an assessment in which the department demonstrated its compliance with 139 professional standards. This is a significant achievement by the Police Department as well as a noteworthy win for the entire community that is protected by this esteemed department. Under Catov’s leadership, the Police Department also implemented Crimewatch, an online system to provide transparency and keep citizens informed.
Upon having Boot Road Park officially renamed to Joseph Catov Jr. Park, Catov took the podium. “This is a great honor, which I did not expect. Thank you to my family, without whose support I could not have had the career I did. Thank you to Bud Turner and Steve Soles who had faith in me and appointed me Chief.” Turner and Soles were on the Board of Supervisors in 2013 and were in attendance at the dedication.
Current Township Supervisors Rajesh Kumbhardare, Theresa Santalucia and Joshua Anderson were pleased to open this new park to the community, and to honor Chief Catov. Santalucia raised her arms and made this invitation: “Look around at this gorgeous park. We have fields, restrooms, a spacious pavilion and this gleaming playground. The entire community will enjoy this. What a wonderful place to bring our children and grandchildren.” Supervisor Kumbhardare pointed out that residents of Whiteland Woods and Indian King can enjoy the new walking trail connecting their neighborhoods to Catov Park where they can then also access more trails and recreation across the street at Boot Road Park (South).
Trail access and connectivity are high on the list of Township goals, as is preserving open space. The Township has a Bike and Pedestrian plan with a list of projects based on community feedback. Supervisor Kumbhardare reminded the audience that “Even with the recent development uptick, over one-fifth of the Township is permanently protected open space. It is gratifying to see our residents enjoying these spaces, as well as getting back out to support our local businesses that have struggled during the pandemic.”
West Whiteland Township has owned the property at 71 W. Boot Rd. for over 15 years. This development project was kicked off because of Exton Little League’s (ELL) need for a temporary baseball and softball field when the organization was displaced from Meadowbrook Manor in 2019 due to pipeline construction. West Whiteland was able to hit the ball out of the park, providing permanent facilities to benefit ELL in the short run and the community in the long run. The fields were built and funded entirely by Energy Transfer. According to Supervisor Anderson, “We got two new community fields without paying a dime. This is definitely something to celebrate.”
Photo caption: From left to right, following the ribbon cutting to christen Joseph Catov Junior Park. Supervisor Theresa Santalucia, Captain Matt Herkner, Jonathan Catov, Jager, Joe Catov, Township Manager Mimi Gleason, Patti Catov, Supervisor Raj Kumbhardare, Lindsey Catov, Camilla and Supervisor Joshua Anderson.