NEWTOWN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL
LUNCHEON MEETING AT GOODNOE FARM DAIRY BAR
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2001
APPROVAL OF THE DECEMBER MINUTES: Mr. Terry moved to approve the minutes of the December meeting as presented. Ms. Buras seconded; the motion carried.
Council members in attendance: Belinda Buras, Dick Weaver, Lisa Kruse, Hal Roberts, Tom Harwood, Walter Leck, Doug Terry, William Mlkvy, Miguel Sison.
Others present: There were a number of members of the Newtown business community and of the Newtown Business & Professional Association in attendance. Total attendance was 38.
CALL TO ORDER – Chairman Sanderlin called the meeting to order. As it was his last meeting as Council Chairman and Township Supervisor, he thanked the Council for their support. He voiced his support for Mr. Weaver as the next Chairman of the BDC.
PUBLIC COMMENT - None.
CODES DEPARTMENT BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT REPORT
Mr. Harwood distributed and reviewed the report for November 2001, noting:
§ ValiGen Inc., under Conditional Uses, had just been received
§ Law School Admissions at the Newtown Industrial Commons is an expansion
§ Sketch plans have been received by Mill Race Office Campus, a project on the west side of Lindenhurst between CAU and Newtown Office Commons
SPEAKER - Greg Briscoe, Lower Bucks YMCA
Mr. Briscoe reviewed the history of the YMCA and the relationship between the national and local organizations. He described the YMCA mission, which includes fostering caring, honesty, respect, responsibility, and health of body & mind. He noted that the Y founded Scouts, Camp Fire Girls and other organizations, and sponsors programs such as Indian Guides and Princesses to help build relationships. He said that the Y is open to everyone, and attempts to provide financial aid, support and programs for people who fall through the cracks, such as children with ADD. Mr. Briscoe said that the Y is committed to helping individuals.
Mr. Briscoe noted that there has been a YMCA presence in Newtown over the years:
Mr. Briscoe gave a timeline of the Y’s interest in Newtown. The Y did an informal community leader study in the area and discovered interest in Newtown. In May 2001 a representative from the Y shared their findings with the Newtown Township Supervisors, and suggested government partnership opportunities for a YMCA facility – government financed, government donation to the Y capital campaign, or government provision of land only.
Mr. Briscoe said that the Y doesn’t propose a pre-determined program, but develops a facility and programs to match the community. He clarified that the steering committee is made up of volunteers, and that the local Y will take on the cost of any capital campaign. He said that community needs are determined through a Market Research Study and Community Assessment. Next programs are developed to meet the community’s needs, and then the needed facilities are determined. After that, a Capital Construction Budget and Operating Performa Budget are developed, and a Fund Raising Feasibility Study done. An independent firm would do the actual feasibility study.
Mr. Briscoe explained that as a 501(c)3 non profit organization, the Y’s programs must be affordable to the community and must relate to the mission of the YMCA. They do pay taxes on phone services, gasoline, and employees. There is no discount or sale pricing. The Y’s Unrelated Business Income Tax is at a higher rate than for-profit businesses. He concluded by saying that the theory behind the tax exemption 501(c)3 status is that the Y provides community services, and noted that Y’s and for-profit businesses have existed side by side in hundreds of communities. He said that private clubs move into areas that have Y’s and are successful all the time.
There were questions from the audience concerning the Ad Hoc Community Center Committee’s report, and it was noted that the committee did not endorse the Y in their report of June 2001. Mr. Briscoe reiterated that the Y has not said what they would be offering yet, and that the ad hoc committee thought that government should provide community services. He said that the Y asked for those interested in serving on the steering committee at a Board of Supervisors meeting, and that there is presently a diverse group of 20 community members in the process of getting feedback from the community. Mr. Briscoe said that the Newtown Athletic Club has a list of steering committee members, which includes several supervisors and members of the business community. A list of 25 possible needs, including needs identified by the Ad Hoc Community Center Committee, has been developed, and the steering committee will use this list when interviewing 60 residents. The list of 60 residents was created from a variety of organizations, including competing businesses.
Dr. Mlkvy explained the BDC members are protective of businesses in the township, and asked if there were any studies that show the impact of a Y on surrounding related businesses. Mr. Briscoe said that studies being done may show that needs are already being met by private business. Ms. Mitchell read a statement from the Newtown Business and Professional Association, which was supported by a comment by Sharon Kelly: if the needs identified are being met by private businesses, then the businesses should support a community center run by the township. Mr. Briscoe stressed that the focus of the Y is not to support the poor.
Sharon Kelly said she was afraid that prices at the Y would seriously undercut private businesses. Mr. Briscoe said that this was not necessarily so, and that some Y’s have higher rates than local businesses. One attendee had a problem with government giving funds, or in this case land, to a charitable 501(c)3 organization; another said he/she would support a Y if it did not provide services already available through private business.
APPROVAL OF THE NOVEMBER MINUTES: Mr. Terry moved to approve the minutes of the November meeting as presented. Ms. Kruse seconded; the motion carried.
LOWER BUCKS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE:
Ms. Kruse distributed a flyer, which noted the following upcoming events:
Ms. Kruse said that anyone could attend as a guest of the Chamber; registrations may be faxed to the Chamber.
JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION – No report.
Ann Goren said that she wished to address a policy issue. She said that it was inappropriate for the BDC, as a BOS appointed committee, to render a position on the issue of the YMCA because it involved the Council in politics. She said that any council member has the right to speak as an individual and to contact anyone involved as an individual, but she did not feel that it was the Council’s role to influence board policy. She explained that this would become a policy issue if the BOS granted land to the YMCA.
Dr. Mlkvy withdrew his suggestion for the BDC to render an official opinion regarding the YMCA, saying he had not realized that the BDC is a government appointed board. He asked Ms. Goren to take input from this meeting back to the Board of Supervisors. Ms. Goren said that the best way to give information or express an opinion to the Supervisors would be to contact the township manager’s office.
Mr. Manahan, President of the Newtown Grant Association, said he was concerned with the safety of children and the effect on the neighborhood of a Y or similar facility at the Wrights Road property across from Newtown Elementary that is township land.
The next luncheon meeting is scheduled for January 3, 2002 at the Goodnoe Farm Dairy Bar at 12:00 PM. The speaker will be Linda Mitchell, President of the Newtown Business and Professional Association.
ADJOURNMENT: On a motion by Dr. Mlkvy, and without objection, the meeting adjourned at 1:35 pm.
Leslie P. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary