Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

Minutes of February 13, 2012

Members Present: Chairman Michael Gallagher, Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener, Secretary Treasurer Ryan Gallagher and member Philip Calabro.
Also Present: Township Manager Joseph Czajkowski, Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko and Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine.

Call to Order: Mr. Gallagher called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.

Park Field Usage
Spartans Cricket Club: Mr. Levine introduced Amar Kulkarni and Sanjay Shetye of Spartans Cricket Club. He said that the Spartans had asked the Park and Recreation Board about using an area of one of Newtown's parks for an area to build a cricket pitch. The Board was very enthusiastic about the proposal and would like to work with the Spartans.
Mr. Shetye explained that the Spartans are active in Bucks County and are part of a league with over 80 teams within a 40 mile radius. Spartans are a men's club, but with a home pitch in Newtown they hope to expand to instructional leagues and camps for youth as well. The pitch would be used by the teams on Saturdays and Sundays, with perhaps some practice on weekday evenings. The season is from April through October.
Mr. Levine said that the pitch would not be subject to much wear and tear, so could easily be converted to its original condition if the Spartans no longer used the field. He said the Park and Rec Board offered three possible locations, Silver Lake Park, the flat field in Roberts Ridge and the area originally slated for tennis in Veterans Park.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he would like to see the club use Silver Lake. It would give the club visibility at the entrance to Newtown, and might generate interest.
Mr. Calabro said that his only concern is that Silver Lake can sometimes be very wet. He questioned whether the pitch would need a different maintenance schedule.
Mr. Shetye said that his organization would visit the site with Mr. Levine and Mrs. Pawlenko to determine the right location; the pitch would only need a small portion of the park. The club would install and maintain the pitch, which needs regular trimming of the grass.
Mr. Calabro said that it is his understanding that Cricket is played in tournaments. He asked how many teams would be participating in Newtown.
Mr. Kulkarni said that there are usually twenty teams in a tournament, however only two teams would play at any location. The games are either half or full day games.
Mr. Shetye said that he is a Newtown resident and the sport is growing in this area; Spartans have other Newtown residents.
Mr. R. Gallagher asked whether the club would be known as the Newtown Spartans.
Mr. Shetye said that he would bring that to the members for consideration.
Mr. R. Gallagher asked whether the pitch would need fences or a clubhouse.
Mr. Kulkarni said that the playing area is marked by cones and flags, which are removed. The group might at some point want to install a shed or storage box for equipment, but at this point everything will be brought to the matches and removed.
Mr. M. Gallagher asked about field usage fees.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that the fees would be the same as any other sports organization.
The Board members agreed that they would support use of Silver Lake Park for Spartans Cricket Club.
Mr. Czajkowski suggested that the club meet with himself, Mrs. Pawlenko and the Public Works Director to plan for the work to be done.
Mr. Shetye said that he would arrange for the club's contractor to contact Mrs. Pawlenko to plan the work. It will take about one week of work to be ready for the season. Practice would begin in late March.
Mr. R. Gallagher asked whether the Club would escrow money to restore the park, should the pitch be abandoned at some future date.
Mr. Shetye said that the Club would be willing to discuss some kind of agreement to restore the land.
Newtown Little League/Council Rock United Soccer: Mr. Levine introduced Kevin O'Shea and Joel Grosso, representing Little League and Lou Spiwak representing CRUSA. He said that both organizations are eager to begin using the fields at Veterans Park and are interested in when the fields will be accepted for dedication. The leagues are also interested in working out an arrangement for field maintenance in lieu of usage fees. Mr. Levine said that he understood that Joe Garvey had spoken to the Supervisors at the last regular meeting about a similar arrangement for Rock girls' softball at Helen Randle Park. He would prefer that all of the leagues using Township fields work out details through the Park and Recreation Board.
Mr. O'Shea said that Little League is in need of additional field space and has set aside money for improvements. They have gotten an estimate from Superior Turf to install pitchers mounds at the three fields at Veterans Park and conversion of the skin field to turf for a total of $7000. The league would want to get Board permission to start work for an opening day of March 31, 2012. The league could use its money to refurbish the field at Goodnoe Elementary School if working at Veterans Park is not possible, as an additional field is needed to accommodate all of the teams being formed.
In addition, going forward, the League would like to arrange to contract the maintenance of the Veterans Park fields. The League already has such an arrangement for a field in Newtown Borough which has worked out very well for all.
Mr. Benchener said that while he likes finds the suggestion of maintenance by the leagues who will be using the fields, he is concerned that about making any decisions could be seen as contracting out work done by employees while the Township is involved in labor contract negotiations.
Mr. Czajkowski said that this is a question for the Solicitor.
Mr. Benchener said that he was also unsure whether the leagues would be permitted to use the park before the Township has accepted dedication, as there have been some ongoing issues with the contractors.
Mr. O'Shea said that the League would want to install the pitchers mounds and use the skin field for play by small children this year.
Mr. Benchener said that he was not sure whether the Township could accept only some of the fields without accepting the entire park.
The Board members expressed willingness to allow use of the park and possibly a maintenance arrangement if it were acceptable to the Solicitor.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that the Township has been involved in ongoing discussions with the contractor and has been working to bring the park into an acceptable condition for play. To allow use of the fields before the Township has accepted dedication could indicate acceptance.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the Solicitor would need to advise the Board as to how to proceed.
Mr. Levine said that CRUSA would also like to establish a maintenance agreement with the Township in lieu of fees.
Mr. Spiwak said that CRUSA would also like to begin using a field in the spring for younger children in the intramural league. He would work with Upper Makefield/Newtown Soccer to share fields. It is the hope of both leagues that the Veterans Park fields could be used for intramural play.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that there are unresolved legal questions to be addressed before the Board could approve work on or use of the fields. Once the legal issues are resolved, he would like the Public Works Director to be involved in any maintenance agreements.
Mr. Levine again stressed that he would like all of the sports organizations to work with the Park and Recreation Director and Board and our Public Works Department to come to agreements that treat each organization fairly.
Noah Cohen Playground: Mr. Levine reported that Jason and Natalie Cohen had come to the Park and Recreation Board some time ago asking to start a fundraising campaign to build a playground in Veterans Park in memory of their little son. They came to the February meeting to report that they have raised $46,000 for the playground. The Park and Recreation Board would like to apply to the County's municipal open space program for matching funds to build the playground. Mr. and Mrs. Cohen would donate their money to the Township to serve as the municipal match.
Mr. Levine reminded the Board that the County had allocated $580,000 to Newtown for acquisition and preservation of open space. He has researched the County fund and it is his understanding that municipalities can apply for the funds to improve existing preserved open space. He asked the Board for permission to approach the County about a grant for the playground.
Mr. Gallagher said that he would be supportive of using a portion of Newtown's allocation for this use. The other Board members were in agreement.

Mr. Gallagher said that the Board would remain for an executive session.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45 PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary

 

Attest:

Joseph S. Czajkowski, Township Manager


Mike Gallagher, Chairman

Matthew Benchener, Vice-Chairman

Ryan W. Gallagher, Esq., Secretary/Treasurer

Philip Calabro, Member

Robert Ciervo, Member