PARK AND RECREATION BOARD

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

MINUTES OF MAY 7, 2003


Approval of the Minutes: The recording secretary reported that in the May 7, 2003 minutes, the name McCrane was misspelled, and on page 3, paragraph 2 should read "access to park through Eagle Road".

Mrs. Sutton moved to accept the minutes of May 7, 2003, as corrected. Mr. Clancy seconded and the motion passed 6-0.


The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, May 7, 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, Susan Sutton, and Anne Marie Zambrisczki, members. Also in attendance were Richard Weaver, Supervisor; Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director; and Russell Strover. 

Call to Order 

Mr. Bires called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM. 

New Business 

Newtown Friends Village Sketch Plan 

Connie Lazenby, Architect; Moonlight Tong, Engineer; Will Bauer, Kirk Norris and Lou Wittman, Board Members of Newtown Friends Village presented a sketch plan for improvements to the Friends Village property. The expansion includes: an additional laundry room; an expanded front entrance; a system of ramps and walking trails throughout the village and to the front entrance that will accommodate wheelchairs and walkers; a new boiler room for upgraded central heat and air-conditioning; and three new two bedroom units. The total new construction is 5000 square feet. 

Mr. Levine explained that the Park and Recreation Board only has jurisdiction over open space or a fee in lieu of open space. He explained that the Township requires that builders pay a fee if they do not provide open space. 

Mr. Levine asked if the Friends Village had 501(C)(3) non-profit status. 

Mr. Norris said that they are non-profit. 

Mr. Levine moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors waive any fee in lieu of open space for this project, as Newtown Friends has 501(C)(3) status. In the event that the Board of Supervisors does not waive the fee, then the Park and Recreation Board recommends that the Board of Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space. He also recommended that Newtown Friends Village consider connecting their system of internal trails to the Newtown Trail. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 8-0. 

Eagle Scout Project 

John Kaisar of Scout Troop 280 in Holland presented an Eagle Scout project for an ADA compliant, handicapped accessible trail which will run from the handicapped parking spaces at Clark Nature Center to the outdoor classroom on the property. John said that he had planned the five foot wide trail with Mr. Strover and Mr. Wert. His project will be to clear the trail only. Mr. Wert said that wood chip mulch will be donated and will either be spread as another Eagle Scout project or by Public Works. Mr. Strover, the Scout Master and a number of parents will be present as John supervises other scouts working on the trail. If the Playwicki Scout District approves the project, he hopes to begin in June. 

Mrs. Sutton moved to approve John Kaisar's Eagle Scout Project of clearing a handicapped accessible trail at the Clark Nature Center. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 8-0. 

Old Business 

Active Recreation Sub-Committee Report  

Mr. Grosso reported that he and Mr. Clancy had met with Township Manager, Bob Pellegrino, to review the 1999 Comprehensive Plan for the Woll Tract. They found that this conceptual plan will need modification. He said that they had discussed access to the park and agreed that an entrance on Rte 413 would be best. This would require road widening and would need Penn Dot approval. He said that Mr. Pellegrino thought that it could take up to six months to get Penn Dot approval. 

Mr. Clancy said that the project would need funding, and would need approval from the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. He said that he thought this would be a three to five year project. He said that the goal of the sub-committee is a first class facility with some lighted playing fields. He hoped that eventually the Township's various sports associations would host tournaments, using the Woll fields and other township fields. 

Mr. Clancy said that the sub-committee would like to look for some outside funding. He said that USTA has grants for public tennis courts and instruction, as does US Soccer. 

Mr. Clancy said that at the time that the Woll Tract was acquired by the Township the deed required that Council Rock School District have access to the fields during the school day until 4:30PM. He said that he would like to meet with School Board representatives about this. 

Mr. Grosso said that he and Mr. Clancy would make a timeline of all that would need to be done, including reviewing the community's current and future playing field needs. The sub-committee will work with the Planning Commission, the Park and Recreation Department, the School Board and local sports associations, and will review all census information and population projections as they proceed with planning. 

Mr. Jim McCraine a resident of St. Andrew's Briar said that he and his neighbors had concerns about these plans to put active recreation facilities on the Woll Tract, as the tract backs onto their homes. He said he was particularly concerned about lighted playing fields, evening activities, and  noise. 

Mr. Clancy said that the sub-committee would be sensitive to the concerns of the neighbors. He said that not all fields would have lights, but that the lighted fields would be closer to the non-residential neighbors. He said that Mr. Pellegrino had suggested building some buffering berms now along the border between the fields and the neighboring homes. He suggested that plants would begin to fill in before any park facilities would be open. 

Mrs. Dorothy McCraine said that she was also concerned about access to the park through Blayze Court and Eagle Road, and increased traffic on her street. 

Mr. Tom Jirele, Township Supervisor, explained that access to the Woll Tract through Eagle Road is deed restricted to emergency vehicles only. He said that Elliot Builders was required to inform all home buyers that the Woll Tract and the 10 acres deeded to the Township as open space would be used for active recreation. He explained that passive recreation consists of nature preserves, grass areas and walking areas. Active recreation refers to playing fields, tennis and basketball courts, and organized sports. 

Mr. Brandon Wind of Newtown Grant asked who would maintain the park and whether an additional traffic light would be required. 

Mr. Clancy said that the Public Works department would be responsible for park maintenance, with possible help from the school district, and that a traffic study would be done to determine if a light would be needed. He said that a traffic light might not be necessary because one is planned for North Drive, and it could be timed with the lights at Durham Road and Wrights Road. 

Mr. Paul Zotter of Devonshire development asked how old the comprehensive plan is, and if a new plan would be drawn. 

Mr. Grosso said that the plan was made in 1999 and a new plan would be drawn. Some of  the community needs have changed since the original plan, with some sports gaining and others losing popularity. 

Mr. McCraine expressed concern about the plans to host tournaments. He said that this would cause traffic problems because the park will only have one entrance. He said that he thought that the sub-committee should limit its scope to the needs of  the Township residents only. 

Mr. Bires said that Newtown has already hosted a number of sports tournaments, including  girls softball and heroes scholarship. The events are planned, managed events scheduled throughout the parks system, using additional parking at the Community College, nearby public schools and other facilities. These events take place over one weekend and are fun for the participants, bring in business to the Township, and have created no traffic problems. 

Mr. Grosso said that the fields are needed to accommodate the Township residents. The existing fields are over-used. The addition of lights adds flexibility to the field use, because games can be scheduled in the early evening in the Spring and Fall. Consideration would be given to neighboring homes, lights would not be placed on fields closest to the homes and games would not be scheduled late in the evening. 

Mr. Grosso said that he was not sure of the procedure to pursue this project. 

Mr. Jirele said that money would have to be budgeted for a few years to complete the project. He said that the Board of Supervisors would want to understand the vision of the sub-committee. He suggested that the sub-committee present its ideas to the Board of Supervisors at a work session. He said that the comprehensive plan had estimated the cost at 1.4 million dollars. He said that money would need to be budgeted for a master plan and then funding would be needed for the next few years to implement the plan. He reminded the residents in attendance that the Woll Tract is deed restricted to Park and Recreation use for active recreation only. 

Mr. Grosso moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the Park and Recreation Board pursue plans for a first class active recreation facility on the Woll Tract. Mr. Bires seconded and the motion passed 8-0. 

Shade Tree Commission 

Mrs. Sutton reported that she had researched a "tree plan" to deal with planting near power lines, but she said she had found that the plan had never been approved by the Board of Supervisors. 

Mr. Weaver said that he would look into the authorization needed. 

Mrs. Sutton reported that Arbor Day had been very successful and that everyone had a wonderful time. 

Roberts Ridge Park Sub-Committee 

Mr. Levine reported that he had met with Township Planner Goldstein about future plans for Roberts Ridge. He said that they discussed a limited expansion of the playground, and about accelerating the tree planting program. They also discussed planning a landscaped flower and herb garden. He said that leaving the park as a largely passive park, with a picnic area and expanded playground to accommodate about 100 children would require 60 parking spaces. He said that they discussed the gazebo/bandshell idea, but felt that this would require running electricity to the park and would require more parking. He said that he thought that the plan for the park should be updated. 

Mrs. Zambrisczki moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that  the Roberts Ridge Park plan be updated. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 8-0. 

Silver Lake Park Sub-Committee 

Mrs. Kelly said that the Board of Supervisors had suggested that this discussion be tabled. 

Mr. Jirele said that some of the items that the sub-committee had submitted to YSM for their Master Plan were more elaborate than what the Board of Supervisors had envisioned. He said that they had decided not to go forward with the master plan because they wanted a passive park with a trail. He suggested that the sub-committee should re-evaluate their plans and scale back on such ideas as a "corporate picnic pavillion" and a bandshell. 

Park and Recreation Director's Report 

Mr. Wert reported that revenue is down 3% for Park and Recreation Department Programming but that participation is up 12%. He said that more people are participating in the inexpensive short term programs. The Day Camp registration is below last year's. He said that flyers were being sent home with school children, and the camps would be re-advertised in the Summer Brochure, to be mailed in mid-May. He said that he thinks that registration may be down because the camps do not supply before and after programs for working parents. He said that registration was good for the one week specialty camps. 

Mr. Wert said that he had been asked to testify in Harrisburg against House Bill 298 and Senate Bill 321, which prohibit Government competition with private enterprise. He said that if passed, Park and Recreation Departments would not be allowed to offer programs that are offered for profit in the private sector. For example, he said that he could not offer dance classes or exercise programs. He said that about 74% of the programs offered by Parks Departments in the State are also offered by private enterprise. 

Mr. Weaver said that he thought that this bill extended beyond park programs to road work and other areas. 

Mr. Levine moved to adjourn at 10:30PM. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 8-0. 

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

_________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary