AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF APRIL 2, 2003
Approval of the Minutes: Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of April 2, 2003. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, April 2, 2003 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Bernard Bires, Chairman; Andrew Levine, Vice-Chairman; Michael Clancy, John Davis, Joel Grosso, Kathy Kelly, Buck O'Neill, Susan Sutton, and Annemarie Zambrisczki, members. Also in attendance were Richard Weaver, Supervisor; Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director; Jim Ott, Planning Commission Liaison, and Russell Strover.
Call to Order
Mr. Bires called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM
Approval of the Minutes
Mr. Ott noted that page three, paragraph two, should read, "that the Board of Supervisors could offer some help and advice on road access because of their ongoing relationship with the Council Rock School District".
Mr. Clancy moved to approve the minutes of March 5, 2003, as amended. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Shade Tree Commission
Mrs. Sutton provided volunteer information sheets to Board members who have agreed to participate in the Arbor Day celebration. She said that the Goodnoe Elementary School Student Council would be planting trees in Roberts Ridge Park before the start of the program at Linton Park.
Mrs. Sutton said that she would continue to gather information on Tree City, USA.
Clark Nature Preserve Sub-Committee
Mrs. Sutton reported that the sub-committee had walked the trails of the Clark property and had noted extensive damage caused by the deer population. Mr. Strover commented that the deer had been eating the ground cover flowers.
Mr. Wert said that the regional State Forester had also visited the property and had spoken to him about a number of management plans. He advised Mr. Wert that there might be money available for Forest Stewardship grants for deer management. The State Forester spoke of methods for inventorying existing trees and monitoring the deer activity. He said that the cost of fencing at Bowman's Hill was twelve million dollars, so he did not think that fencing would be a solution at the Clark property.
Mr. Strover reported that the Boy Scout projects approved in the fall would be beginning shortly, and that he expected a few scouts to make presentations to the Board at the May meeting.
Silver Lake Park Sub-Committee
Mrs. Kelly reported that the sub-committee had reviewed the twelve master plan proposals that had been submitted to Mr. Wert. She said that the sub-committee felt that YSM, whose proposal met all of the guidelines set forth by the committee and was within the budget at $17,600, had shown expertise in park planning. They had designed the master plan for Northampton Township's park at Welch Elementary School and the Navy Ground at Warminster. Mrs. Kelly provided copies of the proposal to the Board for review.
Mr. Levine moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors contract with YSM for a master plan for Silver Lake Park. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Roberts Ridge Park Sub-Committee
Mr. Wert reported that a sub-contractor would be installing the benches, picnic tables and trash receptacles within a few weeks. The installation has been delayed because of the extremely cold weather this winter.
Mr. Levine reported that the sub-committee has been in contact with Paul Salvatore of the Newtown Rotary about fundraising among Newtown's service organizations for playground equipment specifically designed for handicapped children. He said that there would be additional expenses beyond the handicapped apparatus itself, such as an upgraded surface for the area. He said that the paths and the surfaces at the playground currently comply with ADA requirements, however for an apparatus designed for use by a child in a wheelchair, interlocking tiles are preferred.
Mr. Levine had discussed the idea of a community garden with Mr. Fidler, whose nursery abuts the park. Mr. Fidler expressed concern about seeds from a community garden blowing onto his planting fields. He asked Mr. Levine if other community gardens are consistently well maintained throughout the season. He reminded Mr. Levine that a community garden would need a water source. They discussed a possible floral ornamental garden at the other end of the park. Many of the Board members have seen these gardens in other parks and thought that it would be worthwhile for the sub-committee to investigate further.
Mr. Clancy reported that he has noticed that the playground is almost always in use. He expressed concern that the parking lot is not yet clearly marked, and that cars continue to park on both sides of Lower Dolington Road near the playground.
Mr. Wert said that larger signs directing cars to the parking lot were to be installed shortly. A second handicapped parking space has been added. Mr. Wert has discussed the stop sign at the corner of Frost Lane, and the traffic engineers feel that the corner does not warrant a three way stop.
Mr. Grosso asked if the master site plan prepared by Pennoni would allow for a picnic pavilion near the playground. He said that he thought that this would be used every day, and may be a better choice for the next park project instead of a gazebo. He said that the sub-committee would continue to investigate this.
Mr. Wert reported that he had been contacted by Lower Bucks Lacrosse about using the drainage area in Roberts Ridge Park for games and practices. He said that he had also observed soccer teams practicing in this area.
Mrs. Sutton said that she is happy that the park is being used for sports, but since these are not regulation playing fields, they should not be exclusively assigned to organized teams. The rest of the Board agreed that the area could be used, but that no one team has exclusive right to the park at any time.
Mr. Levine said that perhaps the active recreation sub-committee should look into needs of Lacrosse teams.
Active Recreation Sub-Committee
Mr. Grosso reported that the sub-committee has been working on gathering information on current and projected future playing field needs. He will add Lacrosse to the list of sports needing fields. He will be contacting Upper Makefield and Council Rock about working together on some field plans, and possibly sharing some expenses. He said that he would make a presentation to the Board at the May 2003 meeting, and he hoped that developing the Woll Tract into an active recreation park could be included in the next year's budget.
Skate Park Sub-Committee
Mr. O'Neill reported that he has not yet found a location for a skate park. He said that the equipment that he has been pricing is made of galvanized steel, and it can be installed on any paved surface and it can easily be moved. He thought that he would like to find a temporary location, and would like a permanent location at the Woll Tract when it is developed. He said that the basketball courts at Helen Randle Park are used all the time, and would be missed if a skate park were placed there. He asked about the Staples fields.
Mr. Wert reported that he has been working with the Council Rock High School athletic department to develop that property into all-purpose fields that can be shared by the Township and the High School for its ninth grade teams. He said that school district will use the fields until 4:30 PM and will maintain the fields, and in exchange, certain usage fees for recreation programs at the schools would be waived.
Mrs. Zambrisczki said that prior to the formation of the Park and Recreation Board, the old Recreation Board had earmarked the Staples property for a skate park. She said that she did not realize that this plan had not been approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Grosso asked if the Wiggins property could be looked at as a possible location for a skate park, as it had at one time been planned for some skating activities.
Mr. Ott reported that the Planning Commission had been discussing the possible re-zoning of the Roberts Nursery property for some retail use. No decisions had been made. He pointed out that any decision would have to be approved by the Jointure.
Park and Recreation
Mr. Wert reported that Park and Recreation programs have seen an increase of 16% in revenue and 30% in participation.
Mr. Wert presented the Board with a proposal from the Park and Recreation Department for an Archeological Summer Camp. "Newtown Kids Dig Archeology" would be a one week, half day camp for children ages 8 through 12, run by Vivian Braubitz, an archeologist. Ms. Braubitz was involved in recent archeological discoveries of Revolutionary War remains in Langhorne. She has conducted other camps in public parks. The campers would dig four pits, each five feet square and two feet deep. One pit would be located on the barn floor, two outside the barn and one next to the springhouse. Ms. Braubitz had told Mr. Wert that the best chances for the children to find antiquities would be close to buildings. While visiting the property, he and Ms. Braubitz have already discovered pieces of bottles and other objects. Mr. Wert said that any evidence found would remain on exhibit at the property.
Mrs. Sutton moved to approve the sponsoring of an Archeology Day Camp at the Clark Nature Preserve by the Park and Recreation Department. Mr. Bires seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Wert said that Mr. Harp had asked him to discuss sponsoring summer concerts at Roberts Ridge Park.
Mr. Bires said that the concert held to celebrate the opening of the Roberts Ridge Playground had cost over two thousand dollars, although a portion had been covered by the musicians union and a portion by Commerce Bank. He said that he has attended the concerts sponsored by the Borough and by Northampton, and they are not well attended.
Mrs. Sutton expressed concern about sponsoring concerts at the park until the traffic and parking issues have been resolved. The entire Board agreed with Mrs. Sutton that concerts should not be considered while there are still parking problems.
Mr. Wert reported that he had toured the fields at Helen Randle Park with Gary Crossland, the Public Works Director, Mr. O'Neill, who represents Newtown Little League, and Messrs. Cawley and Garvey of Rock Girls Softball. They have decided to close field four at the end of the season, for one year, to repair the field. Field six will have a skin infield. The Rock has gotten approval from the Supervisors for all the requests they had presented to the Board. The Little League will be making a presentation to the Board of Supervisors at the next work session, asking for approval for the requests that they had presented to this Board.
Mr. Wert provided the Board with copies of a Citizen Advocate Handbook prepared by the NRPA.
Mrs. Zambrisczki moved to adjourn at 9:15 PM. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary