Meeting held on March 24, 2014

The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, March 24, 2014 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Chairman Steven Jenks, Steven Bacher, Amie Easterly and Autumn Thomas. Also in attendance was Planning Commission Liaison Dennis Fisher.

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

Approval of Minutes: Mr. Bacher moved to approve the minutes of February 24, 2014. Ms. Easterly seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Old/New Business

Partnership with Park and Recreation Board and Department: Megan Presienski, Park and Recreation Children’s Program Director, was in attendance to talk about ideas for children’s activities which might work well with the Environmental Advisory Council’s mission to educate the community. She said that she has tried to develop programs using Clark Nature Center to promote awareness of the park. The park is frequently used for Eagle Scout projects and has been used for a number of gardening programs in the past. A Council Rock autistic support class works in the park regularly, keeping the trails clean and weeding the herb garden. In past years, “mommy and me” programs for toddlers and pre-schoolers have been popular. She has also recently planned a family star gazing night. These are all programs that the EAC might want to help with and co-sponsor. She urged the members to think about this partnership and try to aim for some environmental programs for the fall brochure.

Ms. Presienski said that the Park and Recreation Department assembles the Township Newsletter. The EAC green corner is a regular feature, but she suggested highlighting the EAC in the column which usually features a park and recreation instructor.

Ms. Thomas asked whether there would be an opportunity to do a program at summer camp.

Ms. Presienski said that the recording secretary usually brings Art Goes to School to Camp Beechtree every summer and the children enjoy it. The presentation usually takes about 30 minutes. She would be happy to plan something similar for the EAC, with a science or nature themed visit.

Ms. Thomas said that she would try to plan a short program, possibly with a planting or bird watching theme for a visit to camp on a Friday morning. She would keep in touch about this idea.

Mr. Jenks said that the EAC would add recreation programming to its monthly agenda and try to plan a class or event for the fall brochure, meeting its July 1, 2014 deadline for submission. The EAC does plan to hold seasonal forums for community education. He would try to plan the fall forum to meet the brochure deadline as well, and partner with the Park and Recreation Department on promoting the forum.

Liaison Reports

Newtown Creek Coalition: Mr. Fisher reported that the Coalition is planning a creek clean-up some Saturday in May. He would find out the date and send it to the EAC members.

Project Updates

Earth Day: Mr. Jenks reported that he and Ms. Easterly had moved the bird houses and wood to the Martindell House for storage. They would meet at the Martindell House to help load Ms. Easterly’s car at 8:30 AM on Saturday, April 12, then go together to Core Creek Park to set up.

The following items will be needed for the Earth Day booth:

  • Paint, sponge brushes, sharpies and other art supplies for decorating
  • Plastic bags for smocks and for carrying the finished bird houses home
  • Drills, chargers
  • Safety Goggles
  • EAC Banner
  • Information on feeding birds/bird watching

Ms. Easterly urged all of the EAC members to attend at the beginning, as the houses would be distributed on a first come basis. She said that she could also ask some high school students to come and help the smaller children as a community volunteering opportunity.

Mr. Jenks agreed to work with Park and Rec on an e-mail blast. He will also compose a press release, recognizing the contributions of Lumbermen Associates of the wood and Mr. Islinger’s woodworking II class at CR South for assembly of the project. Hopefully he will be able to get some press coverage at the event as well.

Ms. Thomas said that she had added her various press contacts to the EAC Google Docs folder.

Clark Nature Center: Mr. Jenks said that he had briefly discussed Clark Nature Center with former EAC member Eric Korn. He would like to research some ideas further, but noted he does not have the resources or knowledge that Mr. Korn had.

The members briefly discussed building a rain garden at Clark in the fall. Perhaps they could combine building a rain garden with a Park and Rec class on using rain gardens to offset impervious surface and as stormwater management.

Environmental Forum: Mr. Jenks confirmed that the next forum on alternative energy will be held in the Township main meeting room on Saturday morning, April 12, 2014 at 9:30 AM. The recording secretary will arrange with Public Works and Technology Departments for room set-up and projector/screen.

Mr. Jenks said that he would arrive early for set-up and welcoming attendees. He would continue to promote the event with the Park and Rec department through e-mail blasts and Facebook. He would also send a press release.

The members would be in touch with Ms. Escalante about refreshments for the event.

Old/New Business

Mr. Fisher said that he has noticed an increase in deer on the sides of the road. The EAC had been active in Wildlife Management when Mr. McGuigan was on the EAC. He asked if anyone would be championing this going forward.

The members briefly reviewed Mr. McGuigan’s efforts, which included placing flashers on the deer crossing signs, working with Public Works to place signage at frequent deer accident spots, and tracking deer/vehicle accidents. Mr. McGuigan had created a map for the Township Web site which showed some of the most frequent accident locations. Publishing the map in the newspaper seemed to have helped because it created heightened awareness and driver vigilance. Mr. McGuigan also tracked the success of Eccologix on wildlife management in Township Parks.

Member Comments

Mr. Jenks noted that Lower Makefield had recently changed its ordinance to permit porous paving to offset impervious for development. He asked if Newtown would ever consider this.

Mr. Fisher said that our Ordinance counts porous paving as impervious for base site calculations, but does consider it as part of stormwater management. To make a change to our ordinance would require the approval of all three Jointure partners’ planning commissions and boards of supervisors. Any of the three partners can introduce a suggested change. Mr. Fisher said that perhaps our EAC could review Lower Makefield’s ordinance and use it to make a recommendation to Newtown’s Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors for consideration. He noted that amendments to the Ordinance can take a long time, as changes impact each municipality differently.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted by:


Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary