Board of Supervisors
Minutes of April 4, 2007
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, April 4, 2007 in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Anne Goren, Vice-Chairman Phillip Calabro, Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Schenkman and member Richard Weaver. Also present were: Paul Beckert, Township Solicitor, James Watson, Township Engineer and Robert Pellegrino, Township Manager.
Call to Order: Chairman Anne Goren called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM.
Invocation: The invocation was given by Robert Davis, member of First Baptist Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Special ActionsAnnual Report by Newtown Fire Association: Fire Association President Warren Dallas, along with Battalion Chief Mike Errico and Andy Errico reviewed the annual report of the Fire Association for station 45 on Liberty Street, Newtown Borough and station 55 on Municipal Drive. Mr. Dallas noted that all of the firefighters are volunteers, including 49 active, 12 probationary, 19 life and 5 junior members. These volunteers save the communities served over one million dollars each year. In partnership with the Newtown Township Emergency Services Department they supplement the EMS work, provide prevention education and inspection services. The Association provides office space to EMS as well as a fire engine and utilities, fuel and maintenance. He reviewed the training schedule, current equipment at each station and the schedule for replacement over the next few years. There is no debt service; the Association saves for apparatus replacement. Mr. Dallas reviewed the 2007 budget of $405,000, with income from the fire tax, from Upper Makefield, Newtown Borough and Middletown, a fund drive and lease on its building to the Newtown Borough police. Work is to begin shortly for renovation of the Liberty Street firehouse, which was built in 1901. For additional information, or to volunteer with the Newtown Fire Association, check the Web site at www.newtownfire.com.
Public Comment: Resident Victoria Bowe and Mark Craig of Newtown Borough announced Newtown’s First Fourth celebration, to be held this year on Saturday, July 7. The celebration is in its planning stages and there are many opportunities for volunteers to contribute to the day’s events, which include a parade, games, entertainment and food stations, ending with a fireworks display. There is a softball game each year between Newtown Borough and Newtown Township. Last year the game was won by Newtown Borough. Mrs. Bowe presented the trophy to Mr. Craig, but hoped that Newtown Township win it back at this year’s game. For information or to volunteer, check the Web site www.newtownfirstfourth.com.
Resident Nancy Crescenzo complained that although the Township offices would be closed on Good Friday, this meeting was taking place during Passover, when people of the Jewish faith are unable to attend.
Mr. Schenkman noted that Passover is observed in the home on the first two nights, which were Monday and Tuesday of this week.
Mrs. Crescenzo asked whether all bleachers have been replaced in our parks, as there had been some discussion that they are dangerous. She also asked about the roof of the Roberts Ridge Park pavilion.
Mr. Pellegrino responded that many bleachers had been retrofitted and some had been replaced. The retrofitting/replacement will continue through this spring until completed. The pavilion roof is not yet completed.
Mrs. Crescenzo complained about the condition of Carl Sedia Park, which does not have activities for toddlers and the condition of exercise equipment is poor. She said that existing parks should be cared for first before new parks are built.
Resident George Vanderhorn asked whether there are plans to install 5 traffic circles on Stoopville Road.
Mr. Schenkman responded that the Supervisors had heard a presentation from Gilmore Associates on traffic calming for Stoopville Road, which included roundabouts, noting five possible locations where they might be helpful.
In response to Mr. Vanderhorn’s further questions, Mr. Pellegrino said that the Gilmore study cost about $20,000. It was conducted to provide detailed study of Stoopville Road, while Scott Petri and David Steil and the Regional Traffic Task Force are looking at the entire region, but not at the same level of detail.
Mr. Vanderhorn said that he is very concerned that an effort to eliminate truck traffic on Stoopville Road will have a negative impact on other roads throughout the Township.
Mrs. Goren said that the studies are being conducted to find ways to keep traffic moving at a safe speed throughout the Township, not to eliminate traffic from any particular road.Mr. Schenkman noted that he sits on the Regional Traffic Task Force, as do representatives of Lower Makefield, Yardley and Northampton. Efforts are being coordinated so that everyone’s concerns are addressed equally.
Bills Lists and Reports
Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $182,738.48. Mr. Weaver seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to Mrs. Crescenzo’s question, Mr. Pellegrino said that payments for modulars for the Codes Department are lease/purchases. A second modular had been purchased outright, and a third is to be added.
Mr. Schenkman confirmed that the Board is aware of the third modular.The motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Environmental Advisory Council: Vice Chairman Susan Sciarratta reported that the EAC has continued its partnership with the Delaware Riverkeepers Network on a project to restore an area of Newtown Creek in Carl Sedia Park. Although the Council did not receive a grant from the Fish and Wildlife Service last year, they have revised their application to be submitted to Growing Greener II, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The application seeks $40,000. The match is to be $5000 in in-kind services, such as volunteer workers. The project involves removal of non-natural vegetation and replacement with native species, stream bank stabilization, habitat restoration, and naturalization of the detention basin. The project is supported by Newtown Borough’s EAC. She asked that the Board of Supervisors review the application and contribute a letter of support.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize writing and signing of a letter of support for the project. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that she would like before and after pictures taken to document the change.
Reports of Officials:
Short Term Loan for Property Acquisition and Design Services: Mr. Pellegrino asked the Board to authorize advertisement of an ordinance for a short term loan to finance property acquisition, architectural services and related purposes, needed for the municipal complex expansion. He explained that he and Financial Director, Elaine Gibbs, had worked with Scott Shearer of Public Financial Management, who submitted requests for proposals to eleven banks in the community, receiving four responses.
Mr. Shearer provided a chart to the Board, which outlined the four responses to the RFP. He reviewed the offering rates, fees, prepayment penalties and other conditions for the $1,500,000 bridge loan until a bond is floated. He recommended First National Bank of Newtown, who is offering 4.15% for 5 years, then reset every 5 years at 89% of NY prime rate, with a $500 fee and no penalties, or 4.25% for ten years. He provided a timeline, with authorization to advertise on April 4, advertisements on April 9 and 23, adoption of debt ordinance on April 18, and settlement on May 23, 2007. This would be a line of credit, with debt service only as money is drawn down.
The Board discussed the differences among all respondents to the RFP, and between the two options offered by First National Bank of Newtown.
Mr. Pellegrino noted that the loan can be prepaid or refinanced without penalty.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize advertisement of an ordinance for a short term loan to finance property acquisition, architectural services and related purposesthrough First National Bank of Newtown using the first option, for a five year period at 4.15%. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren reminded the public that discussion is limited to the motion that is before the board, only.
Mrs. Crescenzo asked that the advertisement include the entire scope of the project.
Mr. Pellegrino said that the advertisement would address exactly that, $700,000 for acquisition of property from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and about $98,000 for architectural services, with the complete architectural work totaling about $872,000. This is not for construction, which would be put out to bid. The architectural services would determine the costs for construction. About $200,000 has already been spent on concept plans for this project. This is a line of credit to be drawn upon as needed. The 2007 budget includes acquisition of the property and architectural services.
When Mrs. Crescenzo referred to minutes of meetings in 2002 containing discussion of the municipal complex expansion, Mrs. Goren again reminded her that the only item to be discussed at this time is the advertisement.
Mr. Pellegrino said that he would estimate that if the project moves forward it would be about a $10- to $12,000,000 project; this bridge loan would eventually be rolled into a bond.
The motion passed 4-0.
Municipal Complex Architectural Services: Mr. Pellegrino asked the Board to authorize execution of an agreement for architectural services to design the municipal complex expansion. He introduced Joe Phillips and Jim Linsky of George Donovan and Associates, who reviewed the current concept plan for the Board.
Mr. Phillips showed plans for a multiple building campus style complex, which he estimated could cost about $11,000,000. He noted that construction costs increase at a rate of about 6-7% each year.
Mr. Linsky said that after interviewing the staff and department heads to discuss their needs, the plan for a campus was developed. This is called Option 3 of the plans initially developed. Using this option, a single story office building houses the various administrative and codes departments; the police occupy this building, which would have an extension added, and a maintenance building. The main building will house the public meeting room and conference rooms. Although it is a single story building, there will be a loft area in the meeting room for the audio-visual equipment. The maintenance building will have expanded locker facilities and storage. The lower level of this building will be used for record storage. The existing public works building and old school house will be used for Park and Recreation program rooms. In response to Mrs. Goren’s question, Mr. Linsky said that there are kennels in the police building, and the current kennels for lost/stray animals could be moved closer to the maintenance building.
Mr. Schenkman asked if this would be a green building.
Mr. Phillips discussed the requirements of the US Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. There are guidelines that would be used to evaluate qualifications. Donovan & Associates works to follow these guidelines, using sustainable design techniques; reusing existing buildings would gain points in the evaluation process, which uses an independent engineer to review the project. There are a number of factors to be discussed and considered down the line, for example some triple glazed windows are much more expensive to install but reduce the need for perimeter radiation. These are factors to be considered as the project moves forward. Energy systems would be considered for the entire campus. There are some grants available for photovoltaic systems, and these would certainly be considered.
In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Phillips said that the design of the main building was chosen because it centralizes all areas that the public would need regular access to. Existing walkways would be expanded to connect the buildings for easy access for both the public and for employees. This design considers the population at build-out, and the number of employees needed at that point. He and Mr. Pellegrino visited a number of other municipalities to determine the square footage needs per employee, and modified their findings to allow 300 square feet per employee. At build-out, with a population of 25,000 people, it is anticipated that four additional police, one administrative and four additional public works employees would be needed to maintain the current levels of service. In addition to archive storage, document imagining projects are under way to reduce some of the paper storage needed. It is estimated that it will cost about $76,000 to renovate the public works building for use as Park and Rec program rooms. Salt storage is expanded and located closer to the new public works building. There will be no basement in the administration building, and no second story; there will be no stairs or elevators.
Resident Jay Sensibaugh expressed interest in pre-engineered modular buildings, LEED certification and a constructability review.
Mr. Phillips said that the maintenance/public works buildings could use pre-engineered buildings. The administration building would be simple, one story construction with load bearing walls. Construction would be the next phase to be discussed. A constructability review can be done if the Township would like.
Mrs. Crescenzo complained that she would have wanted a community center rather than rooms for Recreation programs. She complained that Scott Shearer worked without a contract and that Mr. Jirele was not at this meeting; the date had been changed to a time when he would be unable to attend. She asked about the total square footage of the project, and for comparable buildings in the Township. She complained that the project was moving forward at a time when the Township manager is about to leave and a new manager has not yet been hired. She said that the police portion of the plans have not properly considered whether Newtown Township will continue to provide police services to Wrightstown Township. And she bitterly complained about kennels and care for stray or lost dogs.
Mr. Phillips said that the new complex would be a total of 64,000 square feet, including existing structures.
Mrs. Goren said that this evening’s meeting has been on the schedule that the Board approved in January when preparing the calendar. Mr. Jirele was aware of the meeting date, but was unable to attend. Whether our police department services Wrightstown would have almost no impact on the size of the police building or the number of patrol cars needed.
Mr. Pellegrino and Mrs. Goren both attempted to correct Mrs. Crescenzo’s misconceptions about the existing dog kennel. The kennel is heated and air conditioned. If the police pick up a lost or stray dog, it is brought to the kennel, where public works staff care for it while attempting to find the owner. The dog is given food and water and the kennel is kept clean. If an animal appears to be sick it is taken to a veterinarian. If an animal were to remain unclaimed for five days, it would be turned over to the SPCA. The SPCA has inspected the kennel and complimented the Township. It has been held as an example to other municipalities.
In response to Mrs. Crescenzo’s question, Mr. Schenkman said that a work room for the Board of Supervisors is needed.
Mrs. Crescenzo complained that the community meeting room is so large, when this room is rarely full.
Mr. Phillips said that this room is 22 by 38 feet; the new room will be 40 by 50 feet. The existing structures total 24,000 square feet, not including trailers. Some examples of other large buildings in Newtown Township are:
Resident Dennis Fisher asked if the public has been allowed any input into these plans.
Mrs. Goren said that the plans have been discussed a number of times over recent years. Public comment has been heard on many occasions. Over the years some changes to the concept have been made after public comment. This is the concept plan. We are now moving onto the design phase.
Mr. Schenkman said that the concept plan would be available to the public on the Township Web site.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize the architect to begin the design phase at a cost of $98,000. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Phillips said that the complete design should take from six to nine months. The completed design will include cost estimates. To create a three dimensional model would be very expensive, but if the Township would like one, a consultant could create one. An electronic presentation can be created for the Web site.
Collective Bargaining Agreement with Newtown Police Benevolent Association: Mr. Pellegrino asked the Board to ratify the collective bargaining agreement with the Police Benevolent Association. The contract runs from January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2011. It has limited post-retirement medical benefits and an increased amount each employee pays toward medical benefits. There is a salary increase of 45 the first four years and 4.25% in the fifth year.
Mr. Weaver moved to ratify the collective bargaining agreement with the Newtown Police Benevolent Association. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Pellegrino said that the old contract expired on December 31, 2006. The new contract is fair, and one of the few that require employee contributions to health benefits.
The motion passed 4-0.
Roundabout Video: Mr. Pellegrino said that at the last meeting the Board had asked to place a video on roundabouts on the Township television channel. Video Gold could prepare a voice-over to narrate the film at a cost of about $500.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize expenditure up to $500 for video voice over to roundabout video. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Beckert said that there would be a need for executive session.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release of $32,850 to Delancey Court. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release for Villas at Newtown in the amount of $198,108.36. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize signing of Mylars for the Toll/Fidler tract. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Public Comment: Mrs. Crescenzo handed the Board note asking about traffic tickets issued on Eagle Road. She was told that a form has to be submitted to the Police Department for that information.
Mrs. Crescenzo complained about the traffic on South Eagle Road. It is difficult to park near LaStalla Restaurant and it is not fair to the owners of Rouget, the restaurant granted conditional use approval at the last meeting. She also complained that traffic backs up near Wendy’s at lunch time. She said that South Eagle Road is not safe and should be condemned. There should also be speeding tickets issued to all speeders on the road.
Mr. Schenkman said that the owners of the shopping center will be meeting with the Township shortly to discuss the parking problems and the review the reserve parking. The LaStalla conditional use approval is also to be reviewed.
The meeting adjourn ed at 10:45PM.