PARK AND RECREATION BOARD

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

MINUTES OF APRIL 3, 2002


Approval of Minutes of April 3, 2002: Mrs. Sutton moved to approve the minutes of April 3, 2002. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, April 3, 2002. In attendance and voting were Bernard Bires, Chairman; Andrew Levine, Vice-Chairman; John Davis, Joel Grosso, Kathy Kelly, Buck O'Neil, Russell G. Strover, Susan Sutton, and Anne Marie Zambriski, members. Also in attendance were Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director; Scott Harp and Richard Weaver, Supervisors.

Call to Order

 Mr. Bires called the meeting to order at 8:10 PM.

Approval of the Minutes of March 6, 2002 

Mr. Bires moved to accept the minutes of March 6, 2002. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Old Business 

Hoffa Tract 

As there was no representative of the Hoffa Tract present, the matter was continued to the May 1, 2002 meeting.

Playground Sub-Committee 

Mr. Levine presented the Board with updated site maps prepared by Pinnoni Associates, which reflect the new dimensions of the playground, the corrected trails and a proposed path to the playground. These plans were submitted to the Planning Commission. It was suggested by the Planning Commission that a paved trail be added to the smaller children's playground, which will have a poured in place safety surface, thereby making it wheelchair accessible. The Planning Commission also asked about a water fountain, but the sub-committee felt that any work done to bring a drinking fountain to the playground would have to be re-done at such time as restrooms are added to Roberts Ridge Park. It was suggested that the sub-committee inquire as to possibly running a water fountain from the alternative school. Mr. Levine agreed to make such inquiries. 

The Planning Commission moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the playground, as shown, with the addition of a handicap accessible ramp to the poured in place safety surface area. Mr. Levine will make a presentation to the Board of Supervisors at their April 10, 2002 meeting, and if approved, the equipment can be ordered and site preparation can begin. 

Shade Tree Commission 

Mrs. Sutton reported that she has been working with Newtown Borough for the Arbor Day celebration that they have planned, and that she is asking a few members of the Park and Recreation Board to help her on April 26, 2002 at Roberts Ridge Park, where Boy Scouts from Goodnoe Elementary School will plant trees. The scouts will then walk to Linton Park on Lincoln Avenue in the Borough to participate in the activities there, and be awarded commendation certificates for their tree planting efforts. Later in the day a tree, donated by Mr. Harp, will be planted along Municipal Drive. 

Mr. Strover confirmed that he would be participating Arbor Day, and that Copper Beech and Liberty Elms will be planted along the Frost Lane side of the park. 

Mr. Strover reported that he expects to hear in the summer whether the Board has received a grant for a grove of trees to be planted at the site of the proposed gazebo. 

Mr. Strover reported that 52 people attended the seminar the Township sponsored at Bucks County Community College with the Pennsylvania Cooperative Extension, and that four people attended his morning workshop on tree planting, pruning and maintenance, held on the Clark property. 

Mr.Strover has begun investigating a Memorial Tree program. He is considering a spot at Silver Lake Park for the trees. He estimates that a memorial tree, with a plaque, would probably cost about $350.00. 

Liaison Reports 

Capital Planning  

Mr. Wert said that he is preparing a presentation for the Capital Planning Commission's May meeting, where he will outline Park, Open Space and Recreation plans for the next three, five and ten years. He would like to ask that restrooms and a band shell for Roberts Ridge Park be added to next year's budget. 

Mr. Harp said that he hoped that this board would begin discussion of both short and long term park plans at tonight's meeting, to help with the Capital Planning Commission's plans. 

Planning Commission 

There was no Planning Commission report. 

Supervisors 

Mr. Harp reported that the Board of Supervisors is eager to begin considering plans for the future use of the Clark nature preserve and Hidden Lake, and would like to add both to this evening's agenda. 

Hidden Lake 

Mr. Weaver explained to the Board that Newtown Township owns open space located between Washington Crossing Road and Eagle Road, just north of the high tension wires. Bucks County has certain easements and restrictions concerning a dam on the property. He is scheduled to meet with a representative of the County to discuss these easements next week. He presented a plan, prepared by Pinnoni Associates, to add parking spaces along the access road into the park. 

Mr. Jeff Marshall and Mr. Charles Sutton, owners of the properties on either side of the entrance to the park on Washington Crossing Road, were present. Mr. Marshall said that he owns the land to the south of the entrance road, and that the proposed parking spaces are on land that belongs to him. He is reluctant to allow the Township to use his land, as there is a creek with a steep incline, just beyond the parking area, and he is concerned about his liability. He has considered deeding the land to the Township, but he must maintain 10 acres of land to retain his current tax status. He has spoken to representatives of DeLuca Builders, who own the land on the other side of his property, about acquiring land on that side to compensate for the land he would deed to the Township, but DeLuca is not in a position to deed him the land, as it now belongs to the Lakeview Estates Homeowners Association. 

Mr. Sutton expressed his concerns regarding his own liability, as his property directly adjoins the other side of the park entrance. He is also concerned about the maintenance of the property, should it be developed as a passive park. He said that the lake is used sometimes for fishing, and he finds garbage there all the time, and he is afraid this will increase. He also speculated that because it is a secluded spot, it could become a hangout for older children, and he questioned whether the police would patrol the area in the evening. There are also ATV trails along the property now. He is concerned that ATV activity will also increase if parking is provided. 

Mr. Wert explained that the Township owns the park, and that the County has easements for the road and the dam. The dam area is deed restricted, and the Township cannot put in a fence along the border with the private property on the other side of the lake. It has also been suggested by the Township insurance carrier that police patrol the park daily. The police department should be notified that the Board is considering plans to open the park.  

Mr. Weaver said that he would discuss these matters with Joe Bush of the County Park Department when they meet next week. As he understands it, currently the County does not allow walking on the dam or hunting, although fishing and boating are allowed.  

Mr. Levine stated that he was not aware of this park at all, and that he was unprepared to discuss future use of the park at this time. 

Mr. Harp said that the Board of Supervisors wanted this Board to begin discussions of future use of all of the Township's parkland, and that tonight was the beginning of such discussion. 

Mr. Levine said that he thought that there are questions regarding the County easements and police patrols that the Board could not address at this time. He thought the discussion should be tabled until a representative of the County and a representative of the police department were present. 

Mr. Bires agreed with Mr. Levine that the Board was not prepared to discuss any plans for Hidden Lake at this time. He asked if Mr.Wert could invite Bill Mitchell of  Bucks County Park Department, and Mr. Harp could invite Chief Duffy of the Newtown Police Department to the May 1, 2002 meeting to continue the discussion. He also asked that Mr. Marshall and Mr. Sutton return at that time. 

Clark Nature Preserve 

Mr. Weaver told the Board that he, Mr.Strover and Mr. Snipes had recently walked the trails on this property, located on Durham Road. Mr. Snipes identified many of the trees, including rare hybrid rhododendrons, but also found many very rare specimens he was not able to identify. Currently there is access to the property through a narrow driveway with a turn-around area behind the house. 

Mr. Weaver presented plans prepared by Pinnoni Associates that would expand the width of the driveway, increase the turn-around area, and provide nine gravel parking spaces. He said that PennDot requires that the driveway entrance be paved and widened. Because there is a swale in the road at the property, moving the entrance would not afford the minimum required visibility.  

Mr. Weaver said that by limiting the parking to only nine spaces the access is limited, and by limiting access there is no PennDot requirement that a deceleration lane added to the road at the entrance. By putting in nine spaces, there would be some additional public access, such as for scout troops. 

Mr. Harp said that this would be a low cost project that he hoped the Board would consider bringing to the Planning Commission. He asked that Mr. Strover outline a few walking trails. 

Mr. Davis asked if other materials than gravel had been considered for the parking area. He said that he has seen other pervious materials in other parks, and thought that might be a better idea. 

Mr. Strover said that he would like to see the plan make better use of the existing turn-around area, with a minimum disruption of the trees on the property. He thought the current proposal required that too many trees at the entrance be removed. 

Mr. Weaver suggested that he could ask the engineers to redesign the plan to make better use of the existing driveway and turn-around area, and make recommendations for other materials for the pervious parking area. 

Mr. Levine said that if Mr. Strover and Mr. Weaver were satisfied with the redesigned plans, that he would support their bringing such plans to the Planning Commission's next meeting. 

Mr. Wert said that the Board can visit the property at any time. The Milner family currently supervises access to the property, but anyone wishing to visit can just let Bill know and he would inform the Milners. 

Mr. Weaver said that if the new design was completed to his and Mr. Strover's satisfaction that they could present it to the Planning Commission at the April 16, 2002 meeting. 

Mr. Levine moved to authorize the engineers to revise the design for the Clark Nature Preserve entrance and driveway to minimize disruption of trees, and to explore alternatives to gravel for pervious paving, and for Mr. Weaver and Mr. Strover to present the plan to the Planning Commission. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Park and Recreation Director's Report 

Mr. Wert presented his current financial report, which shows that the summer camp registration is down from last year. Enrollment had been 200 in 2001, but he has only received 169 registrants for 2002. The Camp Beechtree, 4-5 year old camp has 15 registered, but there is room for 50 children, the teen camp has 37 registered with openings for 70, and Camp Newtown has 117 with room for 150. He suspected that, because he had reconfigured the age groups and had been unable to include camp information in the winter brochure, registration suffered. He has included camp information in the spring brochure, and has begun separate camp mailings to last year's attendees, and flyers to the elementary schools. The camps will also be featured in newspaper press releases. 

Mr. Wert said that at the State Conference he had spoken to a vendor who books musical acts for municipal concerts. He was thinking that the Board may want to consider sponsoring a concert at Roberts Ridge Park using the Bucks County Showmobile, a truck equipped with a stage, lights and a sound system. 

Mr. Bires said that he had attended a Big Band concert last summer in Newtown Borough and it had been very successful. He would like to see the Township sponsor a similar concert. 

Mrs. Sutton suggested that a Sunday evening in August might be a good time for a concert. She thought that if a concert began at 6:30 PM, it would not be too hot and it would be over before it became too dark. 

Mr. Wert said that he would begin looking at possible plans for getting the showmobile, the entertainment and the funding for a concert. 

Mr. Wert said that he was including the NFL flag football registration information in his spring brochure, and would be sending flyers through the schools. The league would be organized over the summer, with orientation clinics to train the volunteer coaches. 

Mr. O'Neil said that he would discuss the NFL program with the Newtown Athletic Association. 

Mr. O'Neil reported that Little League opening day would be Saturday, April 6, 2002. Girls softball begins in May. All the fields are ready, and they have begun installing the fence toppers, purchased by the Township, on the fields. May 4, 2002 is World Wide Little League Hometown Hero Day. 

Member Comments 

Mrs. Sutton mentioned that the exterior of the alternative school has not been cleaned up. There are still large  piles of dirt in the yard. 

Mrs. Sutton also asked when the PennDot trailers would be removed from Swamp Road Park. 

Mr. Wert said that he did not think that the work on the traffic lights on the By-Pass had been completed yet. 

Mr. Bires expressed the Board's congratulations to Mr. Strover and Mr. Wert for their awards, presented at the PRPS banquet. 

Mr. Bires suggested that the Board begin their meetings at 7:00, as the meetings are running until past 10:00 PM. The rest of the Board agreed to meet in May at 7:00PM 

Mr. Bires moved to adjourn at 10:10PM. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

______________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary