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 January 27, 2014

The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, January 27, 2014 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were:Steven Bacher, Amie Easterly, Pam Fitzpatrick, Steven Jenks and Autumn Thomas. Also in attendance was Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko.

Organization of Council: Ms. Thomas moved to nominate Mr. Jenks to serve as chairman. Ms. Easterly seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Ms. Thomas moved to nominate Shannon Escalante as vice chairman. Mrs. Fitzpatrick seconded and the motion passed.

Approval of Minutes: Ms. Thomas moved to accept the minutes of November 28, 2013. Mr. Jenks seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Bacher abstaining.

New Business

Partnership with Park and Recreation Board and Department: Mr. Jenks explained that he had invited Mrs. Pawlenko to attend this evening’s meeting to discuss ways the EAC can work with the Park and Recreation Department on joint projects and help each other with promotion of events and programs.

Mrs. Pawlenko thanked the EAC members for the opportunity to speak. She said that her department has added a number of programs that might attract people interested in environmental issues, including organic gardening, composting herb gardening and environmental law. The Department has formed a partnership with the Foodshed Alliance. She would like to have a class on energy conservation and thought this might be a good partnership, since Mr. Jenks had indicated he was working on a forum on this issue. She explained that classes promoted in the Township brochure require registration. While she understood that the EAC’s forums had not been requiring registration, she saw it as an advantage, as people who register for a class are more likely to show up. She would also be able to do e-mail blasts to promote an EAC sponsored program and could gather a mailing list of residents interested in environmental issues. Looking ahead, she is planning to group the various Township programs and classes into more narrow categories, such as teen programming, gardening, music and dance. She would include any EAC programs under a heading like Environmental Programs.

Mr. Jenks said that he would be very interested in this partnership and would be planning and environmental forum this spring on energy conservation and renewable energy sources. Once his speakers and dates are confirmed he would share them with the Park and Rec department so that the program can be included in the brochure.

Mrs. Pawlenko said that the Park and Rec Department will be participating this year in Earth Day celebrations in Core Creek Park on April 26, 2014. She asked the EAC to participate in the program.

The members agreed to participate in Earth day and plan an activity for children.

Ms. Thomas asked if Mrs. Pawlenko could also promote the Audubon Society’s bird count event on the weekend of February 14. She would supply all the information and agreed that the promotion would be a co-sponsorship between the EAC and the Park and Rec Board.

The members briefly discussed ideas for an Earth Day activity and decided to investigate building/decorating bird houses. They would communicate via e-mail on planning kits for the activity for children, with wooden houses to be built by older children and perhaps simple bird houses to be decorated and painted by smaller children. The Park and Rec Department would supply the table and chairs.

Mr. Bacher asked whether the Department has sought DCNR grants for bike trails. He thought there might be Federal and State money available to extend Newtown’s trails.

Mrs. Pawlenko said that she believed that Newtown’s trails do not meet the criteria to be considered bike trails. This could complicate any applications. At a recent county wide recreation meeting, bike trails were discussed and it seems that many of our roads are not appropriate for bike trails. She also noted that DCNR grants require a Township matching fund and the Township recreation budget has been very tight recently due to the economy.

Liaison Reports

Newtown Creek Coalition: Ms. Fitzpatrick reported that the Coalition has not met recently, but has been discussing ways to improve its Web site.

Project Updates

Clark Nature Center: Mr. Korn said that he has moved away from Newtown and will not be reappointed to the EAC. He will pass on his materials on Clark Nature Center to Mr. Jenks.

Green Corner: Ms. Escalante reported that she has submitted a green corner article on environmentally friendly transportation practices and on reduction of use of paper for the winter newsletter.

Environmental Forums: Mr. Jenks said that he has confirmed willingness of two speakers on alternative energy sources. Mark Bortman will speak on solar energy and Thomas Wells will discuss home energy audits. His speakers were interested in learning more about local ordinances’ requirements for alternative energy.

The recording secretary explained that the Township had only recently adopted some ordinances dealing with alternative energy and would forward those amendments to Mr. Jenks to share with the speakers.

Mr. Jenks said that as soon as he has confirmed at date and time with the Township for the use of the meeting room, he would write a description to be included in the Township brochure for promotion with the Park and Rec department.

Bird Town: Ms. Thomas reported that the next Bird Town training will be March 1, 2014 and will be listed in the Park and Recreation brochure as a co-sponsored class. The cost is $55 and twelve attendees are required by Audubon.

Ms. Thomas reported that at the Bird Town forum she received an award for getting the most backyard properties signed up. She was very successful at the Welcome Day table last spring.

Audubon is beginning a discount card program as a reward for participation in the backyard stewardship program.

Earth Day: Ms. Easterly offered to contact a friend in the lumber business to get a donation for bird house kits.

Ms. Thomas said that she had some plans for simple birdhouses which she believed would be easy for children to assemble. She also has a large supply of craft materials which could be used for decorating the birdhouses. She would research simple bird houses that small children could decorate. She would follow up with members via e-mail.

Member Comments

Mr. Bacher said that he has completed the training for the “An Inconvenient Truth” program and would be available to give a presentation as one of the EAC’s environmental forums. He also noted that 350.org, a climate change organization, has recently formed a local chapter.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted by:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary