NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL

100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940

Internet: http://www.twp.newtown.pa.us

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Meeting held on April 26, 2010

 

The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, April 26, 2010 in the Township Building. In attendance and voting were Chairman Jay McGuigan, Vice Chairman Pam Fitzpatrick (late), and Dennis Annarelli, Walt Leck, members.

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM.

New Business

SEPTA R-8 Line: John Frey and Paul Iverson of PA-TEC, an organization working to investigate the reactivation of the SEPTA R-8 Newtown Rail Line were in attendance to present the work of their organization. Mr. Frey said that Newtown Township’s Board of Supervisors has already passed a resolution in support of a SEPTA feasibility study and has written to the County Commissioners and DVRPC in support of the study. PA-TEC is seeking support of the Environmental Advisory Councils of the municipalities in Bucks and Montgomery Counties to promote the environmental benefits of public transportation in general and as well as support of the R-8, which would benefit Newtown residents directly. The rail line has been dormant for 27 years and a portion of the abandoned line has already been converted to a trail.

Mr. McGuigan said that he had some misgivings about the expense to reactivate this line rather than invest in additional parking and improved service for the Woodbourne Road and Langhorne stations already used by Newtown’s residents. It had been his understanding that the R-8 would require passengers to Center City to change trains en route.

Mr. Frey said that if the line were electrified it could go directly to Center City without the need to change trains. An electrified R-8 would take less than one hour from Newtown to Philadelphia. He also noted that a recent survey at Jenkintown station revealed that greater than 50% of the Jenkintown riders were driving from Bucks County. This further points to a need for additional rail transportation from this area. Regarding improving parking at Woodbourne Road station, Mr. Frey noted that the stations are already at or above capacity. Additional parking would bring more riders to lines which cannot accommodate them.

Mr. Frey said that the EAC could write letters of support to the County Commissioners and the Bucks County Planning Commission supporting the project because of its reduction of greenhouse gases by eliminating some automobile commuters from the roads. This has already been discussed at Newtown Borough and Wrightstown, where the plan was supported. PA-TEC is asking for a study, which could take two or three years to complete.

(Mrs. Fitzpatrick arrived at this point. She noted that she has heard the PA-TEC presentation in other venues)

Dr. Annarelli moved that the EAC should draft a letter of support to the County Planning Commission and County Commissioners to conduct a feasibility study on the reactivation of the R-8 line. Mr. Leck seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Approval of Minutes

M. McGuigan moved to moved to accept the minutes of March 22, 2010. Dr. Annarelli seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Liaison Reports

Planning Commission: The recording secretary reported that EAC Liaison Dennis Fisher had discussed developing a pamphlet on methods of controlling run off from home improvement projects which increase impervious surface with the Planning Commission and Township Engineer Michele Fountain. Ms. Fountain has provided copies of some similar publications distributed with permit applications in the City of Philadelphia and Whitpain Township as a starting point for Newtown to develop a similar pamphlet.

Park and Recreation Board: The recording secretary reported that EAC member Autumn Thomas had attended the Park and Recreation Board April meeting at which she agreed to help guide a Brownie project to clean up areas of Clark Nature Center. This project involved some pruning of rare rhododendrons and magnolias. Ms. Thomas has also agreed to represent the EAC in the formation of a “friends of the park” group to help preserve Clark Nature Center.

Mrs. Fitzpatrick reported that the Park and Recreation Director has applied for a grant from the Bucks County Conservation District for rain barrels which will be decorated and distributed with water conservation information and instructions by children of Newtown Elementary School.

Project Updates

Wildlife Management: Mr. McGuigan reported that he presented the information the EAC has gathered on deer/vehicle collisions and some of the information on controlled hunts to the Board of Supervisors. The Board has authorized the EAC to pursue estimates for controlled hunts on certain Township owned properties. The Board indicated that use of Township land for a controlled hunt in conjunction with the Tyler Park annual hunt would be an acceptable beginning to a wildlife management program.

Member Comments

Mrs. Fitzpatrick reported that she has recently participated in a series of classes on watershed protections. She gave a brief presentation on the need to protect our waters, including the Delaware River, the Neshaminy Creek and the many creeks that run through the County to the River. She reviewed some statistics on general household uses of water and the importance of conservation through measures like quick showers, natural plantings in lawn areas and preservation of riparian buffers. She also discussed some anticipated dangers associated with drilling for natural gas and dredging of the river downstream. She asked the members to complete a brief questionnaire on the presentation.

Dr. Annarelli moved to adjourn at 10:15 PM. Mr. Leck seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

 

Respectfully submitted by:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary