PARK AND RECREATION BOARD

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

MINUTES OF AUGUST 7, 2002


Approval of the Minutes of August 7, 2002: Mr. Grosso noted that the last paragraph on page 2 should read "Mr. Harp agreed to pursue this with Mr. Pellegrino". 

Mr. Davis moved to approve the minutes as corrected. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 7-0. 


The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, August 7, 2002 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were Bernard Bires, Chairman; Andrew Levine, Vice-Chairman; John Davis, Joel Grosso, Kathy Kelly,  Buck O'Neill, Russell G. Strover, Susan Sutton, and Anne Marie Zambriscki, members. Also in attendance were Scott Harp, Supervisor; Bill 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.

Public Comment 

Mrs. Nancy Crescenzo, a resident, said that she was in attendance because the Skate Park is on the agenda, and she was eager to see the park built. She expressed concern that the High School would be using the playing fields behind Staples for emergency parking until the new school opens, and that this would delay the project. She also expressed interest in the Hidden Lake sub-committee report.

Mr. Bires said that he would like to address Mrs. Crescenzo's concerns as they came up on the agenda.

Approval of Minutes  

Mr. Strover noted that on Page 2, the Shade Tree Commission grant is for $3,000.

Mr. Grosso moved to approve the minutes of June 5, 2002,  as corrected. Mr. Strover seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.

Old Business 

Playground Sub-Committee Report

Mr. Wert reported that a gravel path had been placed from the Roberts Ridge playground to the Newtown Trail, and that he was pricing asphalt for the path. The bid for installation of the playground had been awarded to Buzz Burger, Inc. Work would begin next Monday and would take a few weeks.

Mr. Bires reported that an opening ceremony is planned for September 15, 2002. (changed to Sept. 22)  There will be a ribbon cutting at 5:00 PM and a concert by Monday's Blues Big Band would take place at 6:00 PM. The Bucks County Parks Department bandstand will be rented. The total cost for the band and bandstand is $1500.00. The Musicians Union will donate a portion of their fee, and Mr. Harp is working to find a sponsor for the remainder of the fees. Mr. Wert will handle publicity for the opening. 

Mr. Bires said that he thought this concert would give the Park and Recreation Board a chance to measure the response to Township sponsored concerts and give an indication in the community's interest in a permanent band shell/gazebo in the park. 

Shade Tree Commission 

Mr. Strover reported that he is still waiting on paperwork for the tree grant. He would like the Board to consider planting more along Frost Lane. Six trees did not survive the summer, three of which will be replaced by "Tree the Streets". He said that he had heard that Yardley had gotten a $40,000 grant for materials for parks, and he wanted to look into applying for a similar grant. 

Hidden Lake Sub –Committee 

Mr. Grosso reported that the Hidden lake Sub-Committee had met on July 23, 2002. Chief Duffy and some concerned residents also attended.  Mr. Grosso said that Chief Duffy felt that there is no safe parking available, and that exiting onto Washington Crossing Road could be dangerous. He said that currently the police do not regularly patrol at Hidden Lake, and that they do not have the manpower to begin regular patrols. The area cannot be patrolled with a car or bicycle, only on foot. The chief felt that there are some dangerous conditions at the lake and that it should not be made more accessible. 

Mr. Grosso said that during the discussion at the Sub-Committee meeting, residents expressed concern about the lack of Township owned land for parking. They were also concerned about trespassing on their private property to access the lake. Many asked about their own and the Township's liability in the event of an accident. He presented a written report with recommendations to the Park and Recreation Board for consideration in making its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. 

 In reviewing the written report, Mr. Davis asked if the committee had discussed the property owners installing fences to delineate their property lines. He questioned whether the property could be posted as "no trespassing" if fishing and boating are allowed by the County. 

Mrs. Beasley suggested that the Board might want to ask the  Planning Commission to research  whether parking is allowed on the small area of Township owned property at the entrance to Hidden Lake, or if it can be posted as "No Parking". 

Mr. Harp said that the Board could prepare a list of questions  for the Township Solicitor.  Matters such as posting "no parking" and "no trespassing" signs and clarification of the easements on the property could be researched by the Solicitor. Mr. Grosso agreed to pursue this with Mr. Pellegrino. 

Mr. Grosso said that the Sub-Committee had considered the report of Bill Mitchell of the Bucks County Park and Recreation Board, the concerns of the Police Chief, the original intent in the creation of the lake, and the Comprehensive Recreation Plan, and felt that the property should remain as it is now. The Sub-Committee felt that this property is not viable for further development. Mr. Grosso also said that the Sub-Committee felt that leaving the property as it is now did not address the safety and liability issues that currently exist, and recommend the forming of a task force to address these specific concerns. 

Mr. Levine moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the open space at Hidden Lake be left in its natural environment; only routine maintenance should be performed on the property; that a task force be formed consisting of members of the Board of Supervisors, area residents and Chief Duffy for the purpose of addressing the safety concerns and other issues associated with the lake; and that the original intent of the lake supports the notion that Hidden Lake is open space and cannot nor should not be considered a park. Mr. Grosso seconded the motion. 

Mr. Davis said that he thought that the "original intent" should not be part of the motion, as the Comprehensive plan says that Hidden Lake "may not" be suitable for further development. 

Mr. Levine amended his motion to recommend to  the Board of Supervisors that the open space at Hidden Lake be left in its natural environment; only routine maintenance should be performed on the property; that a task force be formed consisting of members of the Board of Supervisors, area residents and Chief Duffy for the purpose of addressing safety concerns and other issues associated with the lake. Mrs. Sutton seconded the motion. 

Mr. Jeff Marshall, a resident said that the lake is currently being used and that the Park and Recreation Board  cannot just leave it the way it is. They must address the safety and liability issues, either restrict access or make it safe. 

Mr. Levine asked if the lake is accessible through Lakeview Estates. 

Mrs. Beasley said that because Lakeview Estates has only one entrance, an easement was created through the Marshall property for emergency vehicles only. This is not a public easement. When people enter the lake area through Lakeview Estates they are trespassing. 

Mr. Bires asked the Board to vote on Mr. Levine's motion. 

Mr. Levine's motion, seconded by Mrs. Sutton passed unanimously. 

Clark Property 

Mr. Wert reported that he had toured the property with Don Gephardt, the regional representative of the DCNR. He and Mr. Gephardt discussed possibilities for future grants, particularly for renovating the barn as a nature center or environmental center. Mr. Gephardt said that he would have to research the impact on existing facilities outside the township if the barn is used for educational purposes.  

Mr. Levine said that he had worked with the DCNR on County projects at Silver Lake, and they had been given Keystone Grants. 

Mrs. Beasley said that she thought that there are seminars given on applying for Keystone Grants. 

Mr. Strover reported that the parking area should be completed very soon. 

Skate Park 

Mr. Harp said that at this time no sketch plans had been completed for a skate park. Council Rock School District had been in touch with the Township about using the property behind Staples for temporary parking during the split sessions in the fall. The Township is willing to work with the School District on this. 

Mrs. Crescenzo said that she thought that the Staples land should not be used for student parking, but as a staging area for CR North Construction or staff parking. 

Mr. Levine asked if the $75,000.00 allocated for the skate park could be used for other purposes if the skate park is put on hold. 

Mr. Harp explained that the money is specifically allocated for a skate park, and a change would have to be presented to the Board of Supervisors for approval. 

Mrs. Crescenzo asked if the opening of the Middletown Skate Park, and a proposed skate park in Northampton would diminish interest in a park for Newtown. 

Mr. O'Neill showed the Board a recent USA Today article that stated that skate boarding is now more popular than Little League Baseball, with 7.5 million  skate boarders and 6.9 million Little League Ball Players. Newtown and all the surrounding towns have ball fields, so if the children are this interested, we should offer skate parks as well. He said that his development, Eagle Ridge, and Headley Trace have banned skateboard use, and he thinks this is true in other developments also. He said that he did not think there would be less interest if nearby towns were offering skate parks. He asked if any land in Helen Randle Park could be used for a park if the Staples site cannot be used. 

Mr. Bires said that the land available at Helen Randle Park could not accommodate a regulation size skate park, and that the men's softball field was very close and fly balls would be a danger to the skate boarders. 

Mr. Wert said that he was concerned about the operation of a skate park if there is diminished interest. He said that an employee must always be on site during operations to collect admission and supervise for safety. He said that he does not know if the skate park could be financially self-sufficient. 

Mr. Bires said that before construction is begun, it might be a good idea to do a survey for community interest. 

Mr. O'Neill volunteered to chair a Sub-Committee to begin planning a skate park, including investigating alternate sites, and conducting a survey of community interest. 

Mr. Harp said that he thought that Mr. Weaver might have a lot of information of skate parks. 

Mrs. Crescenzo said that she had saved all the paperwork form a previous skate park committee and that she would make this available to Mr. O'Neill.

Silver Lake Park 

Mr. Bires said that this is an addition to the agenda. He asked if a Sub-Committee could be formed to investigate and make recommendations for improvements to Silver Lake Park. 

Mrs. Kelly volunteered to chair a Sub Committee. She suggested that anyone interested get together to walk through the park before a meeting is held.

Mrs. Sutton volunteered to be on this committee. 

Liaison Reports

Capital Planning – No Report

Planning Commission 

Mrs. Beasley reported that Szarko Builders had presented a plan for a Minor Sub-Division, but had been advised that the plan would need to be resubmitted as either a Major Sub-Division or a flag lot with zoning variances.

Wiltshire Walk had presented a Conditional Use application for removal of 40,000 cubic yards of topsoil. The Commission is recommending that the Board of Supervisors grant the Conditional Use with the condition that an effort be made to remove the topsoil to another location within the Township, School District or County. 

Maple Leaf Learning Center had applied for Conditional Use for a daycare/nursery school at the Assembly of  God Church. They were advised that the Church lot size is too small for a nursery school and that a variance would be needed. The Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors grant the Conditional Use with the condition that at zoning variance for lot size be applied for. 

Tudor Square reviewed its plan to build a third office building on Newtown Yardley Road.

Board of Supervisors – no report 

Park and Recreation Directors Report

Mr. Wert provided a written report to the Park and Recreation Board, showing an overall 10% increase in revenue and a 14% increase in participation for the Summer programs. 

All camps have been successfully completed. There was a 3% decrease in revenue and 13% decrease in participation, however the young teen camp was a tremendous success and Mr. Wert expects an increased enrollment next year.

There were 48 applicants for the NFL Flag Football program. The Lower Bucks Athletic Association contacted Park and Rec about joining their league, which sponsors teams in Lower Makefield, Bensalem and Levittown. Newtown teams would have home games at Helen Randle Park and travel to these teams for away games. Games are on Sunday afternoons. Newtown can field 2 teams of 6-8 year olds, 3 teams of 10 to 12 year olds and 1 team of 12 to 14 year olds. He said that Lower Bucks encouraged Newtown to sponsor Spring League teams also. 

Northampton Township had contacted Mr. Wert about co-sponsoring computer classes at their new computer room. Newtown would advertise in our brochure and do our own enrollments and collection of fees. Mr. Wert said that he was not sure if he wanted to send our residents outside of the Township.

Mrs. Sutton said that she thought that unless this program would be competing with one in Newtown she thought it would be a good idea. She said that Northampton programs are open to non-residents anyway. 

Member Comments

Mr. Harp noted that the Walk America flag walk would pass through Newtown on September 4th. They will be at Carl Sedia Park at 10:00 AM carrying flags that have been carried across the country and will be presented at ceremonies at Ground Zero on September 11, 2002.

Mr. Bires moved to adjourn at 9:15PM. Mr. Levine seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

_____________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary