AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MAY 1, 2002
Approval of Minutes of May 1, 2002: Mrs. Zambriscki moved to approve the minutes of May 1. 2002. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on May 1, 2002. In attendance were Bernard Bires, Chairman; Andrew Levine, Vice-Chairman; Joel Grosso, Kathy Kelly, Buck O'Neill, Russell G. Strover, Susan Sutton, and Anne Marie Zambriscki, members. Also in attendance were Richard Weaver and Scott Harp, Supervisors.
Call to Order
Mr. Bires called the meeting to order at 7:00
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.
Mr. Bires advised the Board that the Hoffa Tract had been removed from the evening's agenda.
Silver Lake Park
Mr. Harp said that he would like the Board to add Silver Lake Park to the agenda for June 5, 2002. Mr. Wert had made copies of the Recreation and Open Space Master Plan, Site Specific Plans for Silver Lake Park, which he distributed for the Board to review prior to the June meeting.
Hidden Lake Park
Mr. Jeffrey Marshall and Mr. Charles Sutton, owners of the properties adjoining the entrance of Hidden Lake were in attendance for a presentation by Mr. William Mitchell of the Bucks County Park and Recreation Board.
Mr. Mitchell was present at the meeting to explain the County's interests in Hidden Lake, as well as to answer Board members' questions and give advice on possible future development of the park.
Mr. Mitchell explained that the Township owns the land, but that the County has easements on the entry road, the reservoir and the dam, including a "Conservation c-curve" area surrounding the reservoir, for control of flooding. He explained that the "lake" is part of a storm water management system. There are 12 such sites in the County.
Mr. Mitchell outlined some of the problems inherent with improving the site for public use. He said that the spillway at the lake is very steep, and cannot be re-graded, and walking on it is prohibited. When the Township begins improving the paths in the park, they become subject to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the inclines are currently too steep. Because the area is made up of protected wetlands, there are strict limits on the impervious surface ratio.
The County does allow boating on the lake, but the boats must have County tags. Boats must be carried into the property and carried out. Currently fishing is also permitted.
The area proposed for parking is private property that does not belong to the Township. If the Township were to acquire this property, it would need to be stabilized to prevent erosion along the stream bank before parking could be added. The park is surrounded by private property except for the Taylor Farmstead, which backs onto the park. This could be a possible point of entry to the park.
Any improvements made to the park would be subject to the approval of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Traditionally, DEP has held steadfastly to its rules and limitations. DEP, along with the County Public Works Department and the USDA inspect all dams annually, and have required other townships to remove such improvements as boat docks and benches.
It is evident that the land has been used by ATV's, which have carved trails throughout the property. Although the land is restricted as to the use of ATV's, this has not been strictly enforced on this property. Access to the property has been gained through the current entrance and through the private properties adjoining Hidden Lake. Mr. Mitchell advised the Board to avoid posting the property as "at your own risk", as this is not in any way enforceable, and the Township can still be held liable in the event of an accident that can be shown to be caused by negligence on the part of the Township.
Mr. Mitchell advised the Board that the Township is open to liability right now, and that the Police Department should be involved in discussion of expanding the accessibility and use of this property.
Mr. Levine asked if the County was trying to enforce limitations on ATV use.
Mr. Mitchell said that this is difficult to enforce. He does not want to authorize Park Rangers to pursue ATV users, as the ATV's leave park property when they are confronted by Rangers. He said that the use of ATV's where they are prohibited on County property has become a problem. He is working on requirements for mandatory registration of ATV's.
Mr. Levine asked if any of the ATV users on the Hidden Lake property were recognizable.
Mr. Marshall said that he sees the same people regularly.
Mr. Bires suggested that the Park and Recreation Board should all make an effort to visit Hidden Lake at some time before the next meeting. Mr. Grosso, Mr. Levine, Mr. Bires, Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Sutton agreed to meet there on Saturday, May 4, at 10:00 AM. Mr. Marshall offered his driveway for parking for the committee's visit.
Mr. Bires suggested that because this seemed to be a very complicated and sensitive matter, a sub-committee should be formed to look into restrictions to and development of the property as a passive park. Mr. Grosso agreed to chair the sub-committee. Mr. Levine, Mrs. Sutton and Mrs. Kelly agreed to serve on the sub-committee. Mr. Bires asked Mr. Marshall and Mr. Sutton to participate in the sub-committee work as well. He also thought that Chief Duffy should be invited to the sub-committee meetings.
Mr. Weaver suggested that the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) should also be asked to look at the property and make recommendations.
Clark Nature Preserve
Mr. Wert reported that Pinnoni Associates is preparing a site plan for the Clark property which will show the house, barn and trees drawn to scale. He said that the parking configuration had been approved at the last Board of Supervisors meeting. Mr. Wert said that once parking is installed, the Board will not need to appear before the Board of Supervisors for additional approvals for the clean-up phase of the park opening.
Mr. Weaver said that the DCNR is reluctant to put in any paved parking. 90% of park parking lots are crushed stone. He said that only the widened entrance would be paved.
Mr. Strover presented a draft of a "Planning Framework" for the Clark property. His draft includes marking and labeling of trees and trails, clean-up of overgrown brush and fallen trees, and eventually themed garden areas such as Herb Garden, Kitchen Garden, picnic areas and improvements to the buildings.
Mr. Weaver said that the DCNR has grants available for improvements for such projects as converting the barn to a nature center.
Mr. Strover said that DCNR also has a Forestry Stewardship grant that could be used for the area behind the barn. He also suggested that some of the cleared trees could be sold as firewood.
Mr. Bires suggested that a sub-committee be formed to work on the plans for the Clark Property. Mr. Strover agreed to chair the sub-committee.
Mrs. Sutton moved to name the property The Clark Nature Preserve. Mr. Strover seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Shade Tree Commission
Mrs. Sutton reported that Arbor Day was very successful. Boy Scouts planted trees in Roberts Ridge Park, then participated in activities in Linton Peaceable Kingdom Park. A few members of the Park and Recreation Board then planted trees donated by Mr. Harp along Municipal Drive. Mrs. Sutton hopes to expand participation in Arbor Day in cooperation with the Newtown Borough celebration next year.
Mr. Wert said that he would like the Board to consider projects that it would like to include in next year's Capital Planning.
Mr. O'Neill asked if a skate park was still a consideration for the Park and Recreation Board.
Mr. Wert said that the 2002 budget already included $75,000.00 for a skate park, although no site had been chosen by the Supervisors.
Mr. Bires said that he thought that the park behind Staples could be used as a skate park. There is room there for both a skate park and a field for soccer or football, or possibly a roller hockey court.
Mr. Wert said that he was concerned that a skate park may not be used once Middletown opens its $300,000.00 park in Maple Point Park.
Mr. O'Neill said that he thought that a smaller skate park would still be used by Newtown children, because they could walk to it after school, or easily get rides. He said that he thought that younger teens would use a smaller skate park in Newtown regularly, because it would be close to home. They would not need to arrange carpools and be driven far. He said that he has seen these parks in other locations being used even though large parks are a short distance away. He said that for young teens there is not much to do after school, and he thought that the committee should not abandon this project, especially if money has already been budgeted for it.
Mrs. Zambriscki agreed with Mr. O'Neill that a small skate park close to the schools and shopping areas would be used often.
Mr. Wert said that there would be a fee collected for use of a skate park, either as a seasonal pass or an entry fee, which would cover the cost of staffing the skate park.
Mr. Bires suggested that the priorities for 2003 be continued improvements to Roberts Ridge Park, including a band shell, the Clark Nature Preserve, Hidden Lake and Silver Lake.
Mr. Wert suggested that the Woll Tract, which is on Route 413, opposite the Clark Nature Preserve could be considered for active recreation, such as baseball and soccer fields.
Mr. Levine moved to recommend to the Capital Planning Commission the following list of priorities for 2003: Roberts Ridge Park, Clark Nature Preserve, Hidden Lake for passive recreation, Silver Lake for passive recreation and the Woll Tract for active recreation. Mr. Strover seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver reported that he had been discussing the possibility of adding Tackle Football to Newtown Township Park and Recreation sponsored activities. He had asked Mr. Wert to speak to the Northampton Indians about their program and to Newtown Athletic League about sponsoring a Tackle Football League.
Mr. Wert said that the Park and Recreation department will be offering that NFL flag football program in the fall, and so had spoken to Dale Balasko about the Northampton Indians. Mr. Balasko said that Northampton Indians was not limited to Northampton residents. There are currently 38 players from Newtown as well as players from Upper Makefield, Wrightstown, and Ivyland. Northampton is willing to work with Newtown to expand the Northampton Indians, rather than form a new league. Northampton already has a large organization with lit playing fields. Because players for the Indians will attend both High Schools, Mr. Wert said that he would continue discussions about expanding the Indians.
Park and Recreation Director's Report
Mr. Wert said that the Board of Supervisors had voted to change the name of Swamp Road Park to Helen Randle Park, and would be ordering a new sign. He contacted Ruth Bannon Signs for a design for the sign, and presented it to the Board. He said that he would like to use the same design and color scheme for all signage on Township parks. He showed a photograph of the Newtown Junior High School sign make by Bannon as an example of the color scheme.
Mr. Grosso moved to approve dark blue background with white lettering for the official signage for Newtown Township Parks. Mr. Strover seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Wert reported that the Spring Park and Recreation Brochure had been mailed. He said that camp registrations continue to come in. He has 124 children registered for Camp Newtown, 42 for Teen Sensational Summer, and 20 for Camp Beechtree.
Mr. Wert further reported that there is an increased interest in special programming in all age groups. He reported $200,545 in income this year over $174,550 at this time last year. 60% of registration is by telephone, and he has begun investigating a secure Web server to do on-line registrations.
Mr. O'Neill said that the Newtown Little League has used Mindspring.com, which charges a flat fee.
Mr. Wert reported that he is finalizing prices for the playground equipment for Roberts Ridge park, and that the design had to be flipped around to accommodate the path to the younger children's poured in place safety surface. The bid packets will be going out shortly, and he should have more information on progress with park construction by the next meeting.
Mr. O'Neill reported that the Little League volunteers had installed the fence toppers at the baseball fields.
Mr. O'Neill requested that the skate park be added to the June agenda under Old Business.
Mr. Bires reported that he had contacted an 18 piece big band that would waive 1/2 of its $1,200.00 fee for a concert at Roberts Ridge Park for the opening of the playground. He thought that perhaps some sponsorship could be found for the other $600.00.
Mr. Strover asked that trees, a gazebo and restrooms for Roberts Ridge Park be added to the next agenda.
Mr. Wert asked that the Board review the plan for Silver Lake and that it be added to the next agenda.
Mrs. Sutton moved to adjourn at 9:40PM. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson Recording Secretary