PARK AND RECREATION BOARD

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

MINUTES OF JUNE 5, 2002


 DRAFT - SUBJECT TO AMENDMENT BY PARK AND RECREATION BOARD UNTIL APPROVED


The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, June 5, 2002. In attendance were Bernard Bires, Chairman; Andrew Levine, Vice Chairman; John Davis, Joel Grosso, Kathy Kelly, Russell G. Strover, Anne Marie Zambriscki, and Buck O'Neill, members. Also in attendance were Richard Weaver and Scott Harp, Supervisors, William Wert, Park and Recreation Director, and Susan Beasley, Planning Commission Liaison.

Call to Order 

Mr. Bires called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM

Mr. Bires said that he would alter the agenda to hear a presentation by Chris Gulbrandsen, a Boy Scout with Troop 380 at Newtown Presbyterian Church.

Chris Culbrandsen presented to the Board an outline of a proposed Eagle Scout Project that he had designed with  Russell G. Strover, chairman of the Clark Nature Preserve sub-committee. Chris said that he had worked with Mr. Strover to plan a clean-up of a trail along the perimeter of the Clark property. He intended to remove debris and fallen tree branches from an existing trail, and to re-position a portion of the trail that currently leads directly into a stream. He would like to relocate this portion of the trail so that it would run deeper into the woods and away from the stream. His outline included pictures of the trail, the stream, the fallen trees and an abandoned springhouse on the property. 

Chris said that he hoped to accomplish this project, with the help of five other scouts, on three or four Saturdays in the fall, after any of the proposed driveway improvements have been completed on the property. He would be supervised by both Mr. Strover and his scout leader. He would use his own tools, and this project would not be an expense to the Township. 

Mr. Wert assured the Board that the Scouts would be insured under the Township's umbrella liability policy and the scout troop's policy.  He said that the Public Works Department would be responsible for removing the large felled trees along the trail.

Mr. Allen Fidler asked if the plan was in keeping with guidelines of the Commonwealth Riparian Buffers. He said that the Planning Commission had just received this and had begun studying it. 

Mr. Weaver said that he would be sure that there was no conflict with these guidelines.

Mr. Strover assured the residents in attendance at the meeting that he would work closely with Chris planning and supervising the project. He said that he knew of three other Boy Scouts interested in working at the property, and that he would also help plan projects for them. He said that Chris would carry a cell phone with him while working in the event of an emergency. 

Mr. Strover moved to approve the Eagle Scout Project for clean-up of a trail at the Clark Property by Chris Culbrandsen. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

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.

New Business 

Mr. Bires advised the Board that there were no representatives present for the Hoffa Tract, Szarko Builders or The Newtown Fire House.

Old Business 

Playground Sub-Committee

Mr. Wert reported that the bid packages for installation of the playground had been finalized and that the bids would be opened on June 21, 2002. A new Public Works Director had been hired and would be supervising site preparation at Roberts Ridge Park for the playground. Once a bidder has been chosen, the installation will be completed in 30 days. 

Mr. Bires reported that the Board would be seeking sponsorship for a Big Band Concert to celebrate the grand opening of the new playground.

Shade Tree Commission 

Mr. Strover reported that he has a grant of $2000.00 for trees at Roberts Ridge Park. He hopes to put some trees along the Frost Lane side of the park and to form a grove at the lower end of the park in an ampitheatre arrangement at the site chosen for a possible gazebo.

Hidden Lake Sub-Committee  

Mr. Grosso asked Mr. Levine to read into the record a summary of the report given by Mr. Bill Mitchell of the Bucks County Park and Recreation Board. (Attached) 

Mrs. Beasley asked if motor boats are allowed on the lake.

Mr. Levine said that electric motors are permitted. 

Mr. Charles Sutton reported that not many boats use the lake.

Mr. Glenn Beasley asked if the Board had studied the Township Comprehensive Recreation Plan prepared in April of 1999 in regard to development of Hidden Lake. 

Mr. Levine explained that the Comprehensive Plan was prepared as a general guideline for planning and use of acquired park land. It was needed in order to apply for Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grants. He said that the Board uses the Plan to help familiarize themselves with the open space and appropriate uses for it. The Comprehensive Plan does not point out all of the restrictions on the property, and noted that the Plan recommends further study.

Mrs. Roberta Taylor pointed out that it had been suggested that the Taylor farmstead might be a possible point of entry to Hidden Lake, but that there are deed restrictions on the Taylor farmstead and only agricultural uses are permitted.

Mr. Grosso said that the Sub-Committee had visited Hidden Lake and had held a meeting. Residents of homes surrounding Hidden Lake attended the meeting and spoke to the committee about their concerns. Mr. Grosso presented the Sub-Committee's report (attached). He noted that they had discussed the many restrictions on the property; the many governmental  agencies that would need to be involved in any improvements to the property; the difficulty in police patrols of the property; and the expense involved in conducting studies of the property. 

Mr. Dawood asked why the Park and Recreation Board was looking at the property if the Comprehensive Plan had not recommended improving Hidden Lake.

Mr. Levine explained that Township owned open space must be periodically evaluated. The open space requires maintenance and exposes the Township to liability. The Park and Recreation Board must be familiar with the open space in the Township and with the uses of that open space.

Mr. Jenci asked Mr. Harp if he was aware of the Township Comprehensive Plan. 

Mr. Harp responded that he was familiar with the Plan, but he was also aware that some residents of the Township are currently using Hidden Lake for recreation and he asked the Board to look into the possibility of making the property more accessible to all of the residents.

Mr. Bill Cowen asked if the work the committee had done cost the taxpayers any money. 

Mrs. Beasley answered that the Comprehensive Plan had been financed by a grant and that the Park and Recreation Board and its sub-committees are volunteers.

Mrs. Elinor Campbell suggested that the property should be a wildlife preserve. She noted that her home borders the property and she has seen eagles, red fox and deer on the property. 

Mr. Levine said that the property cannot be designated as a wildlife preserve as it is not a naturally occurring eco-system, but a man made system for flood control, and it must be maintained as such. 

Mrs. Taylor expressed concern about soil erosion caused by ATV's. 

Mr. Levine said that ATV use on public land is a problem throughout the county and that the Bucks County Park and Recreation Board is investigating whether the use of ATV's may violate Federal environmental laws. 

Mr. Sutton said that he thought that problems of pedestrian traffic and ATV's still needed to be addressed. He said that the property needed to be protected rather than developed. He said that he thought that the Township should spend its money on development of other parks. 

Mr. Howard Altman stated that his home borders Hidden Lake and that he has heard hunters on the property in the fall, and that the police have not been responsive to his complaints. 

Mr. Levine said that this would be discussed with the police department. 

Mr. Bires asked the residents in attendance if they felt that ATV's are a big problem on the property. 

Members of the community all said that they are not a big annoyance, however loud radios late at night are a problem. Members of the community agreed that they all frequently hear radios and that they believe that teenagers camp out on the property at night. 

Mr. Kaplan said that he appreciated the work done by the sub-committee. He was afraid, however that the Board of Supervisors would not be as receptive to the residents' concerns. He said that protecting the dam is important, and that opening Hidden Lake as a passive park would be expensive and would expose the Township to liability. He expressed concern about traffic entering and exiting a parking lot on Washington Crossing Road and about possible fires on the property. 

Mr. Oelshlegel said that he uses the lake for fishing and that he was sure that teenagers are hanging around on the property at night. He has not observed many ATV tracks on the property. He asked if the property could be marked as "closed at dusk". 

Mr. Rick di Paola said that it was his understanding that deLuca developers had deeded the land to the Township as open space to meet the three acre zoning requirements of the CM Conservation Management district. 

Mr. Davis responded that the Township requires developers to either provide open space or pay a fee in lieu of open space. 

Mr. Marchionni asked if the Board is concerned about exposure to liability on this property. 

Mr. Levine said that the sub-committee was studying the property now to evaluate the Township's exposure. He said that liability would be discussed with the Township solicitor. 

Mr. Steve Brown questioned why Township money was spent on a parking plan for the property. 

Mr. Harp responded that this is part of the administrative expenses and the investigative process. 

Mr. Sutton asked if Hidden Lake would be on the Board of Supervisors agenda. 

Mr. Harp responded that it would not be on the next agenda but would be on a future agenda. 

Mr. Sutton, Mr. DiPaola and Mr. Barbagallo all stated that they felt that there were too many problems and too many costs involved in opening Hidden Lake as a park. 

Mr. Harp said that he thought that the Board and the Sub-committee should include the Chief of Police in further discussions of the property. 

Mrs. Beasley asked if the parking lot plan was designed before the formation of the Hidden Lake Park Sub-Committee. 

Mrs. Zambriscki said that the parking lot plan was presented to the Board at the April meeting. She said that this was the first time that many on the Board had heard of the property. She said that the Board is newly formed and that it is possible that the members who had previously served on the Park and Open Space Committee may have known about the property. 

 Mr. Grosso asked the Board if they would like to make a motion to approve the Sub-committee's recommendations. 

Mr. Davis said that he thought that the recommendations should include clearly marking the Township's property lines. 

Mrs. Kelly expressed concern about accepting the recommendations without further investigating the existing problems on the property, such as camping, hunting and ATV use. 

Mr. Cowen said that deLuca Builders is about to turn over ownership of the open space adjoining the park to the Lakeview Estates Homeowners Association, and that he was concerned about their exposure to liability.

Mr. Davis moved to table further discussion until the Sub-committee had time to refine their recommendations. Mrs. Zambriscki seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Development of Silver Lake

Mr. Bires said that this would be put on hold.

Clark Nature Preserve 

Mr. Strover reported that the Director of Churchville Nature Center had walked the property and pointed out that there are no new sources of trees. He  identified 20 species of birds. 

Mr. Strover stated that the DCNR forestry agent had told him that a PowerPoint presentation could be put together to be used as a guide for planning on the property. 

Skate Park 

Mr. Harp said that he is still waiting for sketch plans on this project. No location has been chosen at this time. The property behind Staples has drainage problems that must be considered and remedied if it is used as a site for the skate park.

Capital Planning 

There was no capital planning report.

Planning Commission 

Mrs. Beasley reported that the Planning Commission had looked at a sketch plan for a new Fire House. They would like to leave the dirt mound between the Fire House and the Police Shooting Range in place.

The Planning Commission reviewed plans for a Tea Garden at the Village at Newtown Shopping Center. 

The Planning Commission will be reviewing the Riparian Buffers that have just been received. She thought that the Park and Recreation Board would also be looking at these soon. 

The Planning Commission is beginning to review what is permitted to be built in the Office Research District. 

Board of Supervisors 

Mr. Weaver reported that the Board of Supervisors had also received Commonwealth Riparian Buffers and he would keep the Park and Recreation Board informed about these. 

Park and Recreation Director 

Mr. Wert presented the Board with copies of the Park and Recreation Department Annual Report. 

Mr. Wert reported that Gary Crossland had just been hired as Director of Public Works and he would be involved in some of the heavy clean-up at the Clark Property. He said that "Nature Preserve" may not be an appropriate name for the Clark Property, as this has a specific meaning to the DCNR, and that a nature preserve does not have human intervention.. 

Mr. Wert reported that the sign for Helen Randle Park is finished and can be installed. 

Mr. Bires suggested that a dedication ceremony be planned on Saturday, June 29 at 9:30AM at the Park. He requested Mrs. Randle be notified of the time and date. 

Mr. Wert reported that enrollment continues to grow at the day camps, although there are still spaces in all of the camps. 

Mr. O'Neill reported that the Little League season has gone well, and that he would like to speak to Mr. Wert about repairing the fields at the end of the season. 

Members Comments 

Mr. Grosso asked if there is an organizational chart for the Township. He said that he was not sure of exactly who the Board reports to. 

Mr. Harp said that the Park and Recreation Board work with the Park and Recreation Director to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. 

Mr. Davis moved to adjourn at 9:15 PM. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Summary of Mitchell Report

Summary of Hidden Lake Report

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

______________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary