Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

July 16, 2001

MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting July 25, 2001. WORK SESSION OF 7/16/01:  Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 7/16/01 work session.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

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

Also Present: Elinor Campbell; Winslow Mason, Courier Times 

Call to Order:     In the absence of the chairman, Vice Chairman Jirele called the meeting to order at 7:07 PM. 

 Fire Sub-Station Addition – 55 Municipal Drive

Dennis Forsyth, president of the Fire Association, and Chief George Forsyth were present.  Mr. Forsyth said that biggest reason to expand the fire station was to make more room for township employees during the day and provide additional room for vehicles.  He said that the plans have been scaled down significantly, the original construction cost estimate was for $30,000 - $40,000.  Mr. Forsyth presented two plans and cost estimates for each:  the first plan would add bathrooms, offices, a lounge and an exercise area.  The second plan would include the same as the first, but with an additional area for a small meeting room.  The plans leave room for expansion without a large expense in the future.

Mr. Forsyth said that they have purchased a new truck and a second one is due for delivery in September.    He presented and reviewed six different funding scenarios, and said they would like to see either the continuation of the $80,000 allocation or a budget of $50,000 a year from the township.  The figures were based on anticipated income from the expected sale of trucks they presently own.

Mr. Forsyth said they would like to proceed with the addition as soon as possible, after the design is chosen.  It was clarified that $253,000 of previously allocated funds is available to the Fire Association now; funds received from the township by 2002 will total over $400,000.  Mr. Harwood suggested that the association look into possible state grant funds for emergency services. 

Mr. Jirele suggested that the Fire Association proceed with Plan B, which would provide a shared bunk area with the township, and said that the board should review the lease to see what action, if any, would be necessary to approve the addition.  Mr. Mendicino said that the municipal expansion plans should also be considered, as they may impact the addition plans.  Mr. Harp noted that the timing for the project is good, as the budget process will be beginning soon.  This project will be on an upcoming Capital Planning meeting.

In regards to the Jake Brake issue, Mr. Forsyth invited each board member to ride one of their trucks to experience the noise and stopping impact of the brakes.  He said that they are required by the NFPA for all trucks over 26,000 lbs. for safety.  Mr. Forsyth said they feel it is a bad idea to ban the Jake Brakes; it is a safety issue.

Elinor Campbell:  HARB issues

Ms. Campbell said that the HARB has several concerns over the Buckman/Lovett barn.  She said that all of the exterior work was done without a permit; the one issued covering only interior work.  In addition, a COA was not sought from the HARB before construction began.  Ms. Campbell distributed a list of 16 infractions found by HARB, which included:

The owner will be coming to a HARB meeting to discuss the list.  Mr. Harris said that it was the responsibility of the property owner to get the appropriate permits and contact HARB, but that township inspectors should be pointing out and reporting HARB issues or other code issues as they observe them.  Mr. Harwood said it was important to find out more about the inspections before concluding any lapses by inspectors; he will speak to the inspectors. 

Ms. Campbell asked for an additional statement to be added to the building permit form, stating, “if work is in the historic district, please contact HARB.”

Mr. Harwood reported that construction debris at Newtown Meadows may involve subcontractors as well as inattention to dumpsters, and that an inspector is monitoring the situation.  He added that this type of monitoring is an issue that could be addressed by fire inspectors, who travel around all  the township regularly; he will speak to them.

Ms. Campbell said that Frank Tyrol has removed the stucco from the building he is working on, saying that most of the stone was rubble stone.  Ms. Campbell said he had no permit to do exterior work.  She spoke to the Newtown Historic Association, and HARB will be asking him to re-stucco.  He will also reconstruct the porches.

Ms. Campbell reported that HARB is waiting for another set of drawings for Marziani, as their COA was conditional.  They are making corrections to comply with the conditions of the COA. 

Ms. Campbell said that the restoration project at the old St. Andrews Church is remarkable; architect Joe McIrnen checked with HARB throughout the project.  Ms. Campbell said that they would like to demolish the rectory for safety reasons and put in a prayer garden; HARB has suggested that they use some old cornices in the new construction.  The Joint Commission has been notified and invited to the Wednesday HARB meeting. 

ISTEA Payment

Mr. Jirele asked if late payment from PennDOT is normal.  Mr. Larason said that Ms. Gibbs has submitted last for reimbursement on July 3, 2001.  He said that after the reimbursement is approved by the district, then it goes to the state for approval; it can take four to six weeks after that to receive funds.  Mr. Larason said that if the township wants to receive state funding, they are going to have to put up with PennDOT bureaucracy.  Mr. Harwood said the process is thorough and therefore lengthy, since everything is audited.  Mr. Harp said he and Ms. Gibbs would check on the status of repayment.

Mr. Larason said the quality of the work being done by DePaul & Son has been excellent.  Mr. Harp moved to pay the bill of $146,281.50 to DePaul & Son for work on the ISTEA Trail.  Mr. Goodnoe seconded; the motion carried unanimously. 

CRSD Proposed Facility Usage Policy – Redraft

Mr. Harwood said he has been studying the preamble and is unsure whether the township is exempt or not from the policy.  Mr. Mendicino asked is there is an agreement in writing between the township and the school district.  Mr. Harris will take a look at pertinent documents and attempt to get a copy of the Northampton/Council Rock facility use agreement for the board to review and compare to the proposed policy.  Mr. Jirele suggesting checking with Bill Wert regarding the cost for facilities rental for 2000.  

Mr. Jirele will contact the Bob McAuliffe at Council Rock to discuss whether the township is exempt from the proposed policy.

Clark House Garage – Meeting Room Evaluation

Mr. Harwood, citing a letter to him from Buck Jones dated July 9, 2001 and his memo of July 10, 2001, said that Mr. Jones and Don Harris checked out the garage and barn at the Clark Property in consideration of possible use by the Boy Scouts.  Mr. Jones had noted that the garage had been used for chemical storage and would necessitate extensive cleanup and possibly constitute a fire hazard.  He said the barn has a dirt floor and felt that the cost would be prohibitive to make the building into a safe meeting place.  In addition, the barn needs restrooms, concrete floors, a new electrical system, water & sewer, and sprinkler system.

Mr. Harp moved that the board deny the use of the structures on the Clark Property in accordance with Mr. Harwood’s memo of July 10. 2001.  Mr. Mendicino seconded; the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Goodnoe suggested that this decision be explained to the Boy Scouts in a positive way, and that the township investigate improvements at the Clark Property that could be made to accommodate group use.   Mr. Harris and Mr. Larason said there are many grants available for such a project.  

Safe access to the property was discussed.  Mr. Harris said the access to the property should be evaluated.  Mr. Larason said that widening the road would cost $700,000; liquid fuel funds could be used.  Mr. Jirele suggested that, because the township is aware of the unsafe conditions, access should be restricted to everyone except township employees; Mr. Harris felt that township personnel should be restricted as well. 

Mr. Harp moved that Bill Wert be instructed that there will be no discretionary use of the Clark Property until further notice and that the board direct Carroll Engineering to determine what is necessary to make safe site distance to enter the Clark Property.  Mr. Mendicino seconded; the motion carried unanimously. 

Post Retirement Medical Benefits Meeting

Mr. Jirele said that Judy Setar would contact board members to arrange a date to meet with presenters of post retirement medical benefits plans.

Mr. Harris said that the Attorney General has recently put out an opinion letter regarding benefits not authorized under Act 600; the township may need to consult this letter and check its policy against it.  Mr. Harris will get more information and disseminate it to the board.

Newtown Shopping Center – stop sign

Mr. Jirele noted that, now that a road connects Newtown Shopping Center with the Village of Newtown, a 4-way stop is needed instead of the 3-way stop that now exists next to Genuardi’s.  Mr. Harwood will speak to Montgomery Associates to discuss the addition of the fourth stop sign; the township can install the sign if Montgomery Associates asks/authorizes the township to do so.  Mr. Jirele also noted that there should be no parking along the side of Genuardi’s as well, as there is not sufficient room for parking and traffic.

Municipal Services Secretary – part time to full time  (tabled 7/11)

Mr. Harwood elaborated on his previously stated reasons for requesting Fran Swirsky’s position to full time, and distributed copies of the job description.  He said that the board had asked him to begin to evaluate documents that need to be discarded as part of the process of analyzing archival storage needs; this evaluation would be part of the employee’s job.  Janyce has been hired in the position, and was told that administration has requested the job become full time.  Mr. Harwood said that archival storage and organization as well as increasing paperwork requires a full time employee, and that one person should ultimately be responsible for accurate filing and retrieval of township documents.  This full time employee would begin to evaluate archives.

Mr. Mendicino requested additional information regarding the cost of the full time employee.  Mr. Jirele directed Mr. Harwood to research if Ms. Swirsky received benefits. 

Mr. Jirele reported that the search for a new township manager is proceeding well, and that there are five candidates that look promising.  Interviewing is expected to take place the second or third week of August.

Other Business 


On motion by Mr. Mendicino, and without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 10:00 pm.   The board went into executive session to discuss personnel issues.


Respectfully Submitted by:                                                                                                                                     
                                                                      Leslie. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary          7/31/01