Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

May 21, 2001

MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting June 13, 2001. WORK SESSION OF 5/21/01:  Mr. Jirele moved to approve the minutes of the 5/21/01 work session; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously. 

Members Present: Steve Sanderlin, Chairman; Tom Jirele, Vice Chairman; Scott R. Harp, Treasurer; Frank Mendicino, Secretary; Raymond W. Goodnoe, Member; Steve Sander, Solicitor; Bob Larason, Township Engineer; Tom Harwood, Acting Township Manager.

Also Present: Dick Weaver; Allen Fidler; Vince Lombardi; Winslow Mason, Courier Times; Greg Briscoe, Lower Bucks YMCA

Call to Order: Chairman Sanderlin called the meeting to order at 7:10 PM.

Stockburger Dealerships – tabled at request of Stockburger

Bypass Noise Wall Dan Faust spoke for the resident group attending. Mr. Faust said they had contacted the surrounding neighborhoods, and had letters from each regarding vegetative screening on a sound barrier wall:

There were no negative responses; the group’s petition is signed by 98% of the homeowners.

Mr. Faust reviewed the draft of letter to Representative Steil from the Board of Supervisors, which had been distributed for their review. Mr. Sanderlin asked about maintenance of a vegetative screening; Mr. Faust said since it would be on the PennDOT right of way that the responsibility should belong to PennDOT. Mr. Larason concurred, saying that, however, if the plants died PennDOT probably would not replace them. Some board members were concerned with overgrown poison ivy or weeds. Mr. Fidler suggested consulting the horticultural society for plant recommendations. Ms. Faust said that some communities have planted vines to cover the walls. Mr. Larason suggested a long-term adopt-a-highway program for maintenance.

There was discussion about the aesthetics of the sound barrier. Mr. Faust said that if the project were funded, the first step would be for PennDOT to hire a consultant to measure the sound level. Mr. Mendicino and Mr. Harp said they would like some guarantee of township input to PennDOT regarding the design and dimensions of the wall.

Mr. Faust said that Representative Steil is reluctant to pursue funding for the project without the support of the board. Mr. Jirele suggested adding to the letter that the Board of Supervisors have a representative involved in the project; the board agreed. Mr. Sanderlin and Mr. Jirele supported adding a bullet stating that if vegetation were part of the design some type of long-term maintenance plan would need to be determined.

The consensus of the board was that the draft letter was acceptable, with the points above added. Mr. Faust will re-draft the letter and email it to Mr. Sanderlin. Mr. Sanderlin said that the group need not appear again, and that he would raise the issue at a future meeting and obtain authorization to sign it.

YMCA Presentation – Greg Briscoe, Executive Director, Lower Bucks YMCA

Mr. Briscoe said that they are looking for a permanent facility. He distributed a booklet of information, including several facility designs and a timeline, and described how the Y’s operate:

Mr. Jirele asked how municipalities have handled any debt. Mr. Briscoe said that very few Y’s have shut down; if the market studies are done, the likelihood of problems should be quite low. Mr. Jirele said that the township is looking for a facility to house its recreation department and community center; could the Y work with them? Mr. Briscoe said that the financial boundaries and responsibilities would need to be determined and spelled out, and noted that local boards would have decision making input.

Mr. Harwood asked how the Y determined the size facility (square footage) needed to provide services. Mr. Briscoe said that factors include: market analysis results, input from focus groups and residents, pricing, and the expected number of members. Mr. Fidler said that larger facilities usually include pool facilities, a weight room, senior and teen areas, and typically these facilities are 40,000 – 60,000 square feet.

Mr. Fidler asked what happened if the capital fundraising by the Y falls short. Mr. Briscoe said that the community must decide whether to go into debt. He said that most Y’s are built with debt service.

Mr. Briscoe described the studies involved in evaluating potential construction of a Y facility:

Money spent on the studies is part of the capital campaign.

Mr. Briscoe said he went to view the new Northampton school gymnasium, and met with Nancy Opalka of the recreation department. He next met with Northampton supervisors, and was told that, if the Y was interested in locating in Northampton, they should submit a proposal.

Mr. Sanderlin and Mr. Harp visited the Doylestown YMCA, and described the facility: the Y has over 11,000 members; there are 7 health clubs within 5 miles of the Y; a skate park is being added; the site is greater than 10 acres and houses a pool. The initial cost was $6 M. 85% of the membership is from Doylestown.

Mr. Sanderlin said he would like to see what the township sees as desirable services, and see how a Y might fit those needs.

Mr. Briscoe presented a copy of the Kennett Square Y lease; Mr. Sander said it was a typical lease.

Mr. Fidler said that the first draft of the Community Center Committee report will be finished in the near future, and will recommend the township as sole proprietor of a community center facility. A special board work session was scheduled for Monday, June 25, 2001 at 7:00 pm in the township building meeting room, to discuss the community center report.

Analysis of Comcast Rate Application

Mr. Harp cited the third paragraph on page 4 of a letter from Fred Polner to Mr. Harwood dated April 23, 2001, regarding the analysis of the annual rate application submitted by Comcast Cablevision. Mr. Sander said the analysis was very detailed and complete. He recommended one change: to add Bucks County after Newtown.

Mr. Harp recommended that the resolution prepared by Mr.Polner be adopted by the board of supervisors at their next meeting. Mr. Sanderlin asked Mr. Sander to communicate changes and suggestion of new form for the resolution to Mr. Polner.

Mr. Jirele suggested that someone should discuss the money involved at the presentation of the resolution; Mr. Harp will speak to someone.

Helen Randle’s 90th Birthday

The board discussed a letter from Robert Applebaum suggesting that they honor Helen Randle on her 90th birthday by naming Swamp Park after her. Mr. Harp said someone needed to check that the historical background is correct; Mr. Jirele said he would call Dolly Gish and Ellie Campbell.

Post Retirement Medical Benefits Proposal

Options for coverage were presented. Mr. Sanderlin said that the board should hear presentations about the options. He noted that the only commitment from the board had been made to research how this benefit could be accomplished; they had asked for such information from insurance companies.

Mr. Goodnoe asked if any parameters had been placed on the benefits, such as catastrophic protection, managed care, or availability to spouses. He said he was concerned that this could become an expensive benefit and limits should be set.

Mr. Harwood felt it would be appropriate to ask any presenters to itemize the coverage, and noted that any benefit provided would need to be actuarially reviewed each year.

Mr. Jirele said that the initial large outlay of cash over the next five to ten years for this benefit concerned him. Mr. Sanderlin said he was hopeful that the cost would be offset by the difference between the retiree salaries and the incoming salaries.

Mr. Sanderlin said that the benefits would be defined by what makes it attractive enough to encourage retirement.

Mr. Goodnoe asked if other municipalities had been researched; Mr. Sanderlin said Buckingham had paid for the benefit. Mr. Harwood said he would ask the Pottstown police department what level their benefits are and how they are funded.

Mr. Goodnoe said that the presentations should be in executive session, since they are related to labor negotiations. Mr. Sanderlin and Mr. Harwood noted that the union has the right to file for arbitration until July 1; they should have the issue decided before then.

It was decided to have the presentations by the insurance companies on June 7, 2001 at 7:00 pm in executive session.

Joint Municipal Authority – Pole Garage escrow exemption requested

Mr. Harp moved to grant the exemption from the $10,000 escrow deposit required by the Application for Approval of Final Plan for Land Development for the Pole Garage. Mr. Jirele seconded; the motion carried unanimously.

Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Bids

Mr. Harwood presented changes to the fuel bids, as noted on a memo to the board dated May 8, 2001 that revised a memo of April 25, 2001.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to adopt an award of the premium gasoline and diesel fuel bids. Mr. Jirele seconded; the motion carried unanimously.

Acme Building - Report

Mr. Harwood reported that the township has 60 days to evaluate the Acme building. He presented a proposal from an architect, Carlos Rodriguez, recommended by BIU, for consulting services relative to the assessment of the Acme building. The proposal contained an estimate of the work to be done; he has not yet seen the building. Mr. Rodriguez will look only at the building and present a specific proposal, with price and services detailed.

Mr. Harwood said that since the building will be changed to an assembly building, and different standards will need to be met, such as additional ingress and egress for fire, increased fire resistance in the ceiling, which he added into the proposal. He advised the board that part of the consultant’s job should be to investigate what changes are necessary to bring the building into compliance.

There was discussion about the lease conditions and what changes can be made to the building. The environmental study is the second phase of due diligence. Mr. Larason will get an estimate for the environmental study.

Mr. Goodnoe suggested that the process be started right away, as there are time restraints. Mr. Jirele asked if someone could put together a time line for what has to be done when; Dave Sander said he would put together the time line.

Mr. Sanderlin said he would like to have a fixed price from the consultant in his proposal, and his services detailed. Mr. Harwood said he would call Mr. Rodriguez and firm up this information.

Storage Building

Mr. Harwood sent a memo to the board on Friday afternoon, discussing the necessity for additional archival storage, in particular for the police and codes departments. The Capital Planning Committee, based on the report from the Chief of Police, has discussed this need, and asked if the township could proceed with plans for the archival storage and the conversion of the service garage, recognizing that the pole barn would need to be part of the process. He said the storage issue needs to be resolved. Mr. Harwood said that the next step would be to firm up the numbers from the architect and have him present them to the board, then plans would go to bid and financing firmed up.

Mr. Mendicino said he thought that the board had decided to wait for the new manager to come and familiarize himself with the process and sit down with staff. He would like to wait for the new manager.

Mr. Harp asked if the project could wait until fall, when it was likely a new manager would be in place, and make it the manager’s first project. Mr. Sanderlin said the numbers should be firmed up.

Mr. Mendicino said that perhaps the township should re-evaluate Donovan & Associates as the architects; he was unhappy with their presentations. Mr. Jirele said that he was also confused by the numbers presented. Mr. Harp felt that could be the call of the new manager.

Mr. Jirele asked what the alternative would be if the project were put on hold. Mr. Harwood said that the records could be moved offsite, but that in Codes archival records need to be access frequently and a staff person would need to go offsite to retrieve them.

Mr. Sanderlin said that perhaps the records needed to be reviewed to see what could be discarded. Mr. Harwood said that the plan was to decide that at the time of the move. He said that using interns was not a good idea, as they had a bad experience with an intern evaluating files in the past. He said that perhaps someone from the state could assist in evaluating the files; someone will check. Mr. Sanderlin suggested that perhaps someone could be hired to evaluate the files, which would “buy time” until the new manager could take on the project.

Police Department

Mr. Harwood reported that a grant for $6200 for the upgrading of bulletproof vests has been approved.

Mr. Jirele said he has observed a great deal of overtime being used in the police department, and asked what training is taking place. Mr. Harwood said he would check on this. Mr. Harp suggested that Mr. Sanderlin bring Mr. Harwood up to speed on this issue before he investigates. The next meeting with police should be in the July/August time frame. Reports from the consultant should be received soon; Mr. Harwood will check when he is scheduled to return to the board with a report.

Mr. Sanderlin will ask the Chief about the progress with the regard to the timeline of the implementation of the police study report. He will also ask the consultant about his recommendation on how the CERT issue would be handled if they leave Central Bucks.

Mr. Mendicino said more and more money is being added yearly to the overtime budget, and that it needs to be brought under control.

Mr. Jirele suggested asking the Police Department to cut their overtime by 50% or to justify any amount over that. He asked if the board could get a month by month accounting of the police overtime, and a comparison between spending this year and last. Mr. Harp will ask Ms. Gibb for the figures.

Mr. Jirele suggested giving a budget for the year to the Chief to manage but not exceed.

Mr. Harwood - Budget Item

Mr. Harwood reported on unbudgeted expenditures that were paid from the general fund:

Petition Mr. Harwood presented a petition to the board to stop the expansion of the Stockburger. He said he had stamped it in as received.

Appointment Request Mr. Harwood reported that he received a letter from Gail Laughlin asking that she be considered for a position on the Planning Commission. The letter will be forwarded to the appointments committee.

Mr. Larason

Walnut Street Mr. Larason said that the agreement for Walnut Avenue needed a signature.

Mr. Jirele moved to allow Mr. Sanderlin to sign the contract for the widening of Walnut Avenue at Swamp Road. Mr. Harp seconded; the motion carried unanimously.

Goodnoe School Mr. Larason said he was looking for direction from the board. He and Mr. Harwood recently attended a meeting with the School Department for the purpose of identifying the two acres the township is giving up to the park. They reviewed the plan, and he recommended that the School Department go to the Planning Commission, and that they add the houses, driveways and property lines across the street to the plan. The township’s obligation is to purvey the two acres. Mr. Larason will take the Preston property half acre, the two acres, and join this with the School District in a deed of consolidation, which he will bring to the board. If the board is OK with this configuration, the township will be getting 16 parking spaces in the back. They have asked that the school district post signs designating township parking.

Mr. Larason will send a copy of the plans to Russ Stover to review.

The school district wants to complete this by the beginning of the school year. The township obligation is to build a detention basin in support of this, keeping in mind that the basin should be built to maximum potential considering all development of the property. The process would need to begin now to meet the fall deadline. He said a berm could be built now for drainage, if they didn’t want to build the basin now. The board agreed that the detention basin should be built now.

Mr. Mendicino moved to authorize Mr. Larason to design the engineering, prepare bidding documents and put the project out to bid. Mr. Jirele seconded; the motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Goodnoe said that neighboring homeowners preferred the line up of the driveway to be different, and suggested they should consider a possible design change. Mr. Larason reminded the school board that they need to go to the Planning Commission with their plans. There was confusion concerning the agreement with the school district with regard to land development; Mr. Larason will check on the agreement. Mr. Harwood thought that the agreement said that the school department didn’t have to follow the land development process, but that it didn’t absolve them from the engineering requirements.

Mr. Jirele suggested that the school department should meet with the Planning Commission, with the PC understanding that the process needs to move along quickly. Mr. Sander will write to Mr. Reid explaining that a formal waiver of preliminary and final subdivision land use approval does not mean that they bypass the Planning Commission.

Guacks Lane Mr. Harwood said that it has been determined that the Yellow Page book map doesn’t agree with the township map. The Yellow Book map identified Gaucks Lane as a lane, and doesn’t identify the paper sections. A letter to this effect will be sent to Mr. Zeremba, who inquired about this, explaining the differences. The letter will be copied to Yellow Book.

Paper road rights were discussed. Mr. Sander explained that the rights to a paper street are accorded to the property owner, not to the municipality, depending upon how much time has passed since they were laid out on a plan. If it is more than twenty-one years since they were laid out on a plan, they become private easement access easement rights on the land owner on either side of the road to the halfway point of the road. Mr. Goodnoe clarified that this doesn’t give the municipality the right to build a road, but does give the property owners the right to access their property.

Mr. Harwood asked if this prevents structures from being built on a private paper road. Mr. Sander said that before they built a building they would need to file an action to quiet title to give themselves that portion of the road to the halfway point on their side of the road, and merge it into their deed. The opportunity for others who might use the paper street for access a chance to object to it. Mr. Sander believed that permits cannot be given to structures on a private paper street.

Adjournment Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 10:25 pm.

Executive Session was held for personnel issues.


Respectfully Submitted by: ____________________________________________
                                                Leslie Dunleavy, Recording Secretary     6/5/01