Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

Minutes of June 15, 2009

 

Members Present: Tom Jirele, Chairman; Michael Gallagher, Secretary/Treasurer; Jerry Schenkman, Member; Phil Calabro, Member; Jennifer McGrath, Solicitor; Maureen Griet, Engineer and Joseph Czajkowski, Township Manager. Not present was Robert Ciervo, Vice Chairman.

Also Present: Chris Ortwein, Newtown Corporation; Dick Weaver, Newtown Corporation; Peter Vari, Moore Energy; and Barry Moore, Moore Energy.

Call to Order: Chairman Jirele called the meeting to order at 7:32 P.M.

Community Comments

Chairman Jirele requested the public to make their comments at this time.

Discussion

Newtown Corporation, Discussion of Bylaws - Chris Ortwein

The Supervisors discussed Newtown Corporation’s Bylaws.

Chairman Jirele advised that he has two issues with regards to the Bylaws. First, the changing of the composition of the Board of Directors; he advised that he feels that the Township and the Borough should still have a say in the Corporation and is against reducing the number of members appointed to the Board of Directors. Second, the section that says any changes to the Bylaws do not need to be adopted by the Supervisors or Borough Council.

Mr. Schenkman suggested that it would be helpful to hear what the focus was when the organization was first created and the focus now; he referred to various projects the organization was involved with. Ms. Ortwein advised that the purpose of the Bylaws has not changed but the Corporation has expanded its focus to include the entire business community of Newtown Borough and Township. She discussed the purpose of the organization and advised that it is her intent to continuing a process that is already in place.

Mr. Schenkman commented on his attendance at the Pennsylvania Downtown Center Conference and questioned why it was decided to have the Township and Borough so involved in the organization. Ms. Ortwein advised that she was not present when the program originally started and on the organization’s partnership between the Township and Borough. Chairman Jirele advised that he was a Supervisor when the organization started and the he feels it has been successful.

Mr. Weaver advised that the Corporation’s biggest financial commitment comes from the Township.

Mr. Schenkman commented on the sentiment of the Board is that the Supervisors do not want to lose control of the organization and advised on what he learned from attending the above mentioned conference, is that normally the municipality has little control. He advised on his concerns that directing the organization to focus on certain items could take away from other areas.

Chairman Jirele reported that he is in favor of the Township appointing members to the Board of Directors and then having a hands off approach. He also commented with regards to the Township being able to voice their concerns if they see a problem.

The Supervisors discussed the effects to the Township if Newtown Corporation does not want to be involved with a particular project and not giving directions to the organization but advising them on what the Township needs help with.

Mr. Weaver discussed the purpose of the organization and the revenue received to the Township from the Business Commons; he reported on the upcoming luncheon in July.

Ms. Ortwein reported on the Corporation’s Bylaws and the Board of Directors’ changes; she advised that the Board is made up of volunteers.

The Supervisors discussed Township appointments to the Board of Directors and their attendance at meetings or being actively involved. A suggestion was made to establish an attendance policy.

Mr. Calabro discussed the historic aspect of the organization and that it started as the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation (JDNC). He advised that it was his recollection that this was a five (5) year period where the organization would be funded by both municipalities and after the five (5) years the organization would be self sufficient; he questioned why that has not happened. Ms. Ortwein advised that she did not feel it was reality that the organization would be self-sufficient and discussed the financial support received from the municipalities. Mr. Calabro suggested various ways for the organization to be more self-sufficient (fundraising, businesses contributing). Ms. Ortwein discussed successful organizations and the organization working for the Downtown Business District.

Mr. Calabro commented with regards to the Corporation’s main focus and the name change from the JDNC to the Newtown Corporation, Inc. Ms. Ortwein reported that the Corporation’s primary focus should be the Main Streets Program and Newtown Business Commons Association.

Mr. Calabro commented with regards to the Bylaws, Article III - Purposes and questioned how the organization expects to achieve educating the citizens. Ms. Ortwein advised that the Board is made up of residents from the Borough and the Township; she discussed getting information out on the whole being difficult.

Mr. Calabro commented on the packet the Supervisors originally received and advised on his issues with regards to having a quorum and voting. Ms. Ortwein commented with regards to the vacancy reference meaning if there are vacancies as a whole on the Board of Directors. Mr. Calabro suggested that vacancies be taking into account.

Mr. Calabro commented with regards to the Bylaws, Article VI - Directors, item 6. Ms. Ortwein advised that the procedure is to have the Chair be a Township or Borough resident and the Vice Chair would be a resident from the opposite municipality.

Mr. Calabro commented on the Bylaws, Article VI - Directors, item 9 and advised on his issues with regards to a quorum, the removal of members and the members having a chance to appeal. He questioned if the member being removed without cause is appointed by the Township, does the Township have any say. Mr. Gallagher advised that according to the document the Township does not have a say.

Mr. Calabro commented on the Bylaws, Article VII - Officers, item 3 with regards to the Chairman’s responsibilities; he questioned if some of the responsibilities should be handle by the Newtown Corporation Manager. Ms. Ortwein advised that she thought that had been changed and she would look into it.

Mr. Calabro commented on the Bylaws, Article VII - Officers, item 6 with regards to the Treasurer; he suggested there be dual control with regards to corporate funds and securities and that it be noted that the Treasurer does not have full control. Ms. Ortwein reported that three (3) signatures are needed.

Mr. Calabro questioned who is the CEO and advised that he does not feel that the Chairman of an organization or corporation to be the Chief Executive Officer; he suggested that the Executive Director be the CEO. Mr. Schenkman suggested that the Chairman of the Board should be the CEO and the Executive Director be the Chief Operating Officer of the organization; he discussed the difference between the two roles.

Mr. Calabro commented on the Bylaws, Article VIII - Vacancies with regards to filling vacancies.

Mr. Calabro commented on the Bylaws, Article IV - Members with regards to members and volunteers being one in the same. Ms. Ortwein advised that is correct.

Mr. Calabro commented on the Bylaws, Article XI - Transaction of Business with regards to issuing checks/paying debt and only needing two signatures. Ms. Ortwein advised that the checking account requires only one (1) signature. Mr. Calabro suggested having duel control. Ms. Ortwein advised that the organization has a history of writing the same checks on a consistent basis and that issuing of checks for larger amounts is approved by a motion at a Board meeting. Mr. Calabro advised on his concerns with regards to checks only needing one (1) signature. Mr. Gallagher advised that according to the Bylaws, Ms. Ortwein should not be signing checks. Mr. Calabro and Mr. Gallagher advised that they are in favor of having two (2) signatures on checks. Mr. Schenkman suggested an alternative is to have the Bylaws state that two (2) signatures are required on checks above a certain dollar amount.

Chairman Jirele commented on the Bylaws, Article XII - Annual Report with regards to the removal of the annual meeting between the Board of Supervisors, Borough Council and the Corporation and advised the he would like to continue having the annual meeting. Ms. Ortwein advised that she would look into the matter.

Ms. Ortwein asked the Supervisors if there was any room for negotiations regarding the Bylaws and how long the Township will continue to fund the Corporation. Chairman Jirele responded that the Township would continue to fund the Corporation at least thru 2009.

The Supervisors discussed residents being appointed to the Corporation and the organization being run by volunteers.

Mr. Schenkman suggested that new members appointed to the Board of Directors be required formal training.

The Supervisors discussed the appointment of residents to Township Boards/Commissions/Committees and to the Corporation’s Board of Directors with regards to their qualifications.

The Supervisors discussed their focus on various Committees and the excellent work done by all of the Board/Committee/Commission members.

Ms. Ortwein advised that she would take the Supervisors’ comments to the Corporation’s Board of Directors.

The Supervisors discussed the Corporation with regards to membership. Ms. Ortwein advised that the Board of Directors consists of eleven (11) members and that there are five (5) members on the Executive Committee. The Township appoints six (6) members to the Board of Directors and the Borough appoints five (5).

Chairman Jirele commented with regards to members of the Committees/Boards/

Commissions not showing up for meetings. Ms. McGrath suggested addressing attendance in the Bylaws. Mr. Schenkman offered wording to be included in the Bylaws with regards to attendance. Chairman Jirele requested to be advised if Township members are not attending meetings.

Ms. McGrath questioned how may time a year the Corporation meets. Ms. Ortwein advised that the Corporation meets eleven (11) times per year.

Mr. Schenkman commented on there being a lack of communication between the Corporation and the Township; he suggested the review process for appointing members be more open.

Ms. Ortwein provided the Supervisors with an inventory of unoccupied office/retail space. The Supervisors agreed that they would like to receive this information for review quarterly. Mr. Gallagher suggested that the information be sent to the Supervisors in electronic form.

Ms. Ortwein requested that Newtown Corporation be put on the next work session agenda to discuss marketing. The Supervisors discussed the agenda for the July work session and suggested waiting until the August work session.

The Supervisors thanked Ms. Ortwein and Mr. Weaver for their time.

Solar Discussion

Mr. Czajkowski updated the Supervisors with regards to Moore Energy and solar power and the options available to the Township; he introduced Barry Moore and Peter Vari from Moore Energy.

Mr. Moore advised the Supervisors with regards to Moore Energy’s history and work done in the area; he provided information for the Supervisors to review.

The Supervisors discussed the future PECO rate increases.

The Supervisors discussed a solar energy product called thin film. Mr. Moore advised that thin film is less efficient that solar panels.

Mr. Moore provided the Supervisors with a solar panel for viewing; he explained how the panel works.

The Supervisors questioned what would happen to the solar panel system if PECO goes down. Mr. Vari advised that if the PECO grid goes down the user would need a battery backup or generator.

Mr. Moore commented with regards to sizing the system, review of the site and Township employees helping with the installation to help keep cost down. He discussed the grant process, state laws with regards to clean energy, the issuing of clean energy certificates and the demand for utilities to purchase clean energy.

Mr. Gallagher questioned the level of commitment before finding out if the grant is awarded. Mr. Moore discussed other municipalities applying for grants; he recommended for the Township to design a system and then begin looking for money available. He advised on the Energy Harvest Grant that could be available. He discussed this grant process being highly political and suggested contacting the DEP, local Congressmen, Senators and the Board of Supervisors encouraging them to write letters of recommendations supporting these proposals.

Mr. Schenkman questioned the availability of Federal money. Mr. Moore and Mr. Czajkowski commented with regards to the availability of Federal money.

Chairman Jirele questioned how much the Township would need to invest before finding out if the grant is approved. Mr. Moore advised that Moore Energy would design the system and write the grant, in return if the grant is awarded they would like to install the system (basically the prep work would be almost free).

Mr. Czajkowski advised that Moore Energy is State certified; he questioned if Moore Energy is involved with Costars or on the State bid list.

Mr. Moore advised that Moore Energy would work with the Township to design the system, write the grant application and install the system.

The Supervisors discussed the work being done by Moore Energy in Upper Makefield Township and the fees charged.

The Supervisors discussed the bidding process with regards to solar power and how the bid is written.

The Supervisors discussed having a timeline with regards to applying for grants. Mr. Czajkowski advised that he would research the bid process and if Moore Energy could become part of the State bid list; he suggested that the Supervisors decide if they would like to move forward.

The Supervisors discussed the bid including - writing/submitting the grant, designing the system and installing the system.

The Supervisors agreed that more research is needed before making a decision.

Chairman Jirele commented on Jointure discussions with regards to private residences installing systems. Mr. Moore advised with regards to the installations to residences and the availability of grant money; he had photographs for the Supervisors to view.

The Supervisors discussed condos using solar powered systems.

Mr. Moore and Mr. Vari advised on how it is determined if the solar panels will work on a site and that the panels can be installed at ground level.

The Supervisors agreed that they are interested in moving forward and would like more information. They thanked Mr. Moore and Mr. Vari for their time.

Newtown Artesian Well Location

Mr. Czajkowski updated the Supervisors with regards to the request made by Newtown Artesian Water Company to install two (2) wells, one in Roberts Ridge Park and the other in Silver Lake Park and recommend the look of the well head (three (3) sample photographs were provided).

The Supervisors discussed the local residents who have wells and how they may be affected due to the installation of the proposed wells.

The Supervisors discussed the process for the request. Ms. McGrath advised that an access easement would be required, well protection and that there would need to be an agreement between the Township and Newtown Artesian Water Company.

Chairman Jirele advised that he has concerns with regards to installing a well near Silver Lake.

The Supervisors reviewed three (3) photographs of sample well heads and agreed that they preferred the springhouse photograph.

The Supervisors discussed current agreements with the Newtown Artesian, if the installation is allowed and what is in it for the Township. They agreed that more information is needed before making a decision.

New Business

None

Old Business

None

Other Business

The Supervisors discussed the farming lease and open space signs.

The Supervisors discussed the matter with McGrath and Upper Silver Lake Road. Chairman Jirele advised that there is no requirement and on Don Harris’ recommendations for a fire lane next to the building. The Supervisors discussed emergency access to the site and the road being for emergency vehicle access only. Mr. Czajkowski advised that he would speak with McGrath.

The Supervisors discussed the Open Space Plan and when that matter should go on an agenda. Mr. Gallagher commented on the wonderful job done by the Open Space Committee and the Bucks County Planning Commission.

Mr. Gallagher commented on the update from Boyle Construction and the note received. Mr. Czajkowski reported that the matter has been taken care of.

Mr. Gallagher commented on the agenda for the July work session with regards to having discussions for the Police Building renovation and Municipal Building furniture.

The Supervisors discussed Donovan with regards to the expansion of the Municipal Complex and the cost to the Township.

The Supervisors discussed looking into another architect for the Police Building renovation.

The Supervisors discussed having conversations with Boyle Construction regarding Donovan.

Chairman Jirele advised that he would prefer not to spend anymore money with regards to design plans and the Police Building renovation.

Mr. Czajkowski advised that he would discuss the plans for the Police Building renovation with Chief Pasqualini and update the Supervisors.

Mr. Calabro commented with regards to the bad quality of the Township’s broadcasts on the Government Channel. The Supervisors discussed Mr. Calabro’s comment. Mr. Czajkowski advised that he would look into the matter; he believes that the issue is with the Township’s equipment. The Supervisors discussed Video Gold.

Adjournment

Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 9:43 P.M.

 

Respectfully Submitted:
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary

 

Attest:

Joseph S. Czajkowski, Township Manager


Tom Jirele, Chairman

Robert Ciervo, Vice-Chairman

Michael Gallagher, Secretary/Treasurer

Philip Calabro, Member

Jerry Schenkman, Member