Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors

Minutes of June 23, 2010

Special Joint Meeting

The Boards of Supervisors of Newtown Township, Upper Makefield Township and Wrightstown Township met together on June 23, 2010 in the Newtown Township meeting room at 6:30 PM. In attendance and voting were: Newtown Township Supervisors Matthew Benchener, Philip Calabro, Robert Ciervo, Michael Gallagher and Jerry Schenkman; Upper Makefield Township Supervisors Conrad Baldwin, Thomas Cino and Daniel Rattigan; Wrightstown Township Supervisors Jane Magne and Chester Pogonowski. Also in attendance were Newtown Township Manager Joseph Czajkowski and Upper Makefield Township Manager Stephanie Treoli.

Call to Order: Dr. Ciervo called the meeting to order, explaining that the three Townships in the Jointure would be reviewing Phase II of the Stoopville Road improvement project.

Eric Kaufman and Larry Young of Gilmore and Associates reviewed work already completed on Phase I of the project, which included traffic calming median islands at intervals along Stoopville Road, signals at various intersections and the realignment of the intersection of Stoopville Road and Washington Crossing Road (Rte 532). Mr. Young said that Phase I has been completed.

Mr. Young said that Phase II of the plan calls for some additional traffic islands and a walking path. There has been some resistance to certain aspects of Phase II. Some alternative plans have been suggested which include eliminating the remaining islands and relocating the walking path to Eagle Road from Stoopville to Marigold Drive and improving the intersection at Durham Road and Stoopville Road.

Dr. Ciervo asked whether the Federal funding could be reallocated for portions of the plan not on Stoopville Road, such as the walking path on Eagle Road.

Mr. Young said that it is not certain, but he thought the Federal funding would still be in place if portions of the project were moved from Stoopville Road.

Mr. Benchener asked what remained of the funding for Phase II.

Mr. Young said that $1,640,000 remained in the fund. If 4300 feet of path were removed from Stoopville Road it would amount to a savings of about $400,000. To build the path on Eagle Road, a length of 2200 feet, would be about $200,000.

Dr. Ciervo said that the Stoopville Road path would be located in front of the Melsky tract. If that tract is developed according to already approved plans, the developer would install the path.

Mr. Baldwin asked the cost of improvements to the intersection at Durham and Stoopville Roads.

Mr. Kaufman and Mr. Young discussed possible improvements which could include road widening, turning lanes, passing lanes or a traffic light. The project could possibly include some condemnations. It is not known what the base of Durham Road is and what roadwork would be required for the possible improvements. Traffic lights usually cost about $150,000. PennDot would have to determine whether the intersection warrants a traffic light.

Mr. Pogonowski said that the intersection needs improvements including turning and passing lanes; a traffic light might not be necessary to make the Durham and Stoopville intersection safer. He indicated that Wrightstown Township would be willing to fund the estimated $14,000 in engineering costs for the intersection.

Mr. Baldwin suggested that engineering work be done to include the light now even if one is not installed until some time in the future.

Mr. Pogonowski noted that a light has been on the TIP for a number of years; should Council Rock School District develop the Howe tract for a school, a light would be required.

Mr. Rattigan said that the changes discussed do not include any benefit for Upper Makefield. He would like safety improvements to the Dolington Village area of Stoopville Road included in the plans.

Mr. Young said that the proposed improvements to the Durham Road intersection might be about $200,000. The original Phase II plan also included some drainage and swale improvements. The proposed walking trail change would bring a trail from the Rosefield development entrance along Stoopville Road to Eagle Road, then down Eagle to Marigold Drive, where it would meet existing trail and sidewalk.

Mr. Calabro expressed some concern about the proposed changes which would remove the path from the Newtown portion of Stoopville Road and use the money for improvements in Wrightstown and Upper Makefield’s Dolington Village.

Dr. Ciervo suggested building the path along the south side of Stoopville Road near Newtown Grant rather than through the front yards of homes fronting Stoopville Road on the north side.

Mr. Rattigan suggested removing the Upper Makefield portion of the trail and placing it in Newtown, where more residents would make use of it. He and Mr. Cino each expressed concern that safety be the primary focus of changes to Phase II.

Ms. Treoli reminded the Boards that any changes would have to meet with PennDOT approval.

Mr. Benchener asked about liability should there be an overrun of costs.

Mr. Czajkowski said that if approved, the project would be PennDOT’s responsibility.

Mr. Kaufman explained that there is a $1,640,000 budget for design, construction and construction inspection. Any overrun would be the responsibility of the Townships during the planning and bidding phases. Once the project is in construction, it is then PennDOT’s responsibility. The Townships’ responsibility for overruns would be made known before the start of the project; the project could then be altered and/or rebid if necessary.

Mr. Schenkman said that he would support changes provided the paths are functional, providing residents with a safer, green community. He deferred to Wrightstown as to suggested improvements to the Durham Road intersection but suggested that the aspects of the project be prioritized. He offered first the trails, second the Durham Road improvements and third the Dolington Village improvements.

Mr. Calabro agreed with this prioritization.

Ruth Brown, 4 Stoopville Road, Wrightstown, reminded the Boards that her driveway is very close to the intersection with Durham Road. Her very old cesspool is in her front yard, as are some very large, very old trees. Any improvements would need to address these concerns.

Ron Kaisar, Newtown Township, said that he lives near the Durham Road intersection and said that it has become very dangerous to make a left turn from Stoopville Road onto Durham Road heading south. The poor sight distance needs to be addressed as part of the proposed improvements. He said that many residents cut through North Drive in Newtown Grant to avoid the intersection.

Donna Salvatore, 233 Stoopville Road, Newtown, said that she has been in her home for 52 years. Recently, due to changes in the roadway, there have been drainage problems on her property. A pipe running below her driveway has been filled in. She has had to install a fence in her front yard. She asked that the drainage be addressed as part of Phase II. She also pointed out that the recently installed median islands on Stoopville Road have become overgrown with weeds and need to be cleaned up.

Nora Shenk of 123 Stoopville Road said that the traffic islands near her home have also become weedy and need to be cleaned. She urged the Boards to consider safety first, particularly the safety of bicyclists. She pointed out some drainage problems in front of her house which have caused ice sheeting in the winter.

Mr. Young said that the State made some additional change orders regarding the repaving at intersections and the widening of the road shoulders. Since this work has been completed, drainage issues are now a maintenance matter. The Township Manager must contact PennDOT to have the drainage issues addressed.

Jim Ott of 271 Stoopville Road, Newtown, said that he has been very concerned about drainage on his property. The road has been widened a few times in the fourteen years he has lived at this location, and each time drainage becomes worse. The ditches along the edge of the paved road have never been cleaned and some swales have been filled in. The culvert pipe under his driveway has been crushed. Regarding the walking paths discussed along Stoopville Road, he noted that installation of paths in front of the White and Melsky tracts would be the responsibility of the developers of those parcels. He also pointed out wetlands and the porches of homes along the path proposed for the south side of Stoopville Road east of Eagle Road. He urged the Boards to consider safety improvements first, especially at the intersection of Durham and Stoopville Roads.

Le Sheppard of 457 Durham Road, Wrightstown, said that he had been opposed to traffic lights at Durham and Stoopville but realizes that something must be done to improve safety at this intersection which has had numerous traffic accidents in recent years. He urged the Boards to consider safety first in planning Phase II, and asked that widening of Durham Road at the intersection be considered to allow cars continuing south on Durham to pass those waiting to make a left turn onto Stoopville. He showed some sample diagrams of ideas for improvements.

Leo Fitzpatrick of 331 Stoopville Road suggested that the speed limit on Stoopville Road should be reduced to 35 MPH. The new medians are no longer effective traffic calming devices, as regular commuters along the road have adapted and are now back up to full speed. While he agreed that the intersection at Durham Road needs improvement, he urged the Boards to continue to provide walking and bicycle trails along Stoopville Road.

Dr. Ciervo reviewed what appears to be a consensus among the Boards and the residents of priorities for Phase II of the Stoopville Road improvement project:

  1. Improvement of the intersection of Durham Road and Stoopville Road, possibly with a traffic light, if warranted. Preliminary engineering to be funded by Wrightstown Township.
  2. A walking trail from Stoopville Road at Hemlock Drive to Eagle Road then south from Eagle Road to Marigold Drive, removing portions of trail originally proposed in front of the White, Gunser and Melsky tracts on Stoopville Road.
  3. Safety improvements in Dolington Village.

The Supervisors discussed whether each municipality would need to vote separately on the motion or whether one motion would be sufficient. They agreed that one motion to which all would vote would be adequate.

Mr. Baldwin moved to approve changes to the Stoopville Road improvement project, Phase II as follows:

  1. Improvement of the intersection of Durham Road and Stoopville Road, possibly with a traffic light, if warranted. Preliminary engineering to be funded by Wrightstown Township.
  2. A walking trail from Stoopville Road at Hemlock Drive to Eagle Road then south from Eagle Road to Marigold Drive, removing portions of trail originally proposed in front of the White, Gunser and Melsky tracts on Stoopville Road.
  3. Safety improvements in Dolington Village.

Mr. Rattigan seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Benchener asked whether any easements or condemnation of property would be required for the new path plan.

Dr. Ciervo said that the new path would be either in the right-of-way or would require permission of Newtown Grant Homeowners Association for traversing its common ground.

Mr. Young said that he recalled that at one time the right-of-way had been offered for dedication but not accepted. This would have to be researched.

Mr. Baldwin amended his motion to include in the priorities as #4 paths in Upper Makefield. Mr. Rattigan amended his second.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Young noted that Phase II would still include the widening of the intersection with Highland Road. The project would be designed for improvements up to $1,640,000.

Mr. Pogonowski said that he was pleased with the direction the discussion has taken and he is very supportive of the changes, which have placed safety first.

Mr. Calabro agreed that safety should be the first concern but expressed some disappointment with the changes to the trails. He had been supportive of the original plan which would have connected Newtown through Upper Makefield to Lower Makefield, where an existing trail continues to the Garden of Reflection. He is supportive of changes to improve the Stoopville/Durham intersection.

The motion passed 9-1, with Mr. Calabro voting nay.

On behalf of the Jointure, Dr. Ciervo thanked former Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick and Congressman Patrick Murphy for their efforts to bring the National Cemetery and the funds for the roadway improvements to the Jointure.

The meeting adjourned at 7:30 PM.


Respectfully Submitted:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary