PARK AND RECREATION BOARD

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

MINUTES OF AUGUST 6, 2003


Approval of Minutes: Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of August 6, 2003. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 6-0.


The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met at the Clark nature Center on Wednesday, August 6, 2003. In attendance and voting were Bernard Bires, Chairman; Andrew Levine, Vice-Chairman; Michael Clancy, Joel Grosso, Kathy Kelly, Buck O'Neill, Susan Sutton, and Anna Marie Zambriczki, members. Also in attendance were Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director; Jim Ott, Planning Commission Liaison; Russell G. Strover, Naturalist; Richard Weaver, Tom Jirele and Scott Harp, Township Supervisors.

Call to Order:

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

Local Artist, Craig Hackett, was present to donate his original watercolor painting of the Clark Barn to the Township and to the Park and Recreation department. Mr. Bires and Mr. Wert accepted the gift on behalf of the Township, thanking Mr. Hackett for his generosity.

Public Comment:

Resident Nancy Crescenzo commented that she has observed that active recreation at the Woll Tract has been on the Park and Recreation Board agenda and on the Board of Supervisors work session agenda, although the current budget does not allocate any money toward development of the park. She noted that there is $20,000. allocated for a plan for the park only, and that the Planning Commission has not been involved. She has noticed that trees have been removed from the property and that work is being done there. She said that she feels that work should not proceed on a large active recreation project while the Park and Recreation Board has not done any work on planning for a community center. She said that she was aware that members of the business community have made offers to help finance a community center. She also noted that future Township budgets tentatively have allocated about $620,000. for Park and Recreation projects. She suggested that the Park and Recreation Board consider the needs of the community members, seniors and youth, who would benefit from a community center, while they are not involved in organized sports.

Mr. Levine responded that, while the Park and Recreation Board would agree that a community center might be an asset to the Township, it has not been approved, and he questioned whether other, smaller, projects should be held up.

Mr. Grosso said that the Park and Recreation Board had recently listed priorities and had included small projects that would be a benefit to those not involved in organized sports, such as playground improvements and a picnic pavilion at Roberts Ridge Park. He said that the Park and Recreation Board is working to complete those projects for which money has already been allocated. He said that at this time the Active Recreation Sub-Committee is investigating the need for playing fields, and is asking for money to be allocated in the next budget to update a master plan. He said that the Sub-Committee is in the very early planning stages and has not put together anything to bring to the Planning Commission yet.

Mr. Bires suggested that the Park and Recreation Board review the Feasibility Study for a Community Center that had been prepared by the Community Center Ad Hoc Committee, and that a discussion be added to a later agenda.

Resident Taylor Milnor said that the senior citizens that he knew all attend Council Rock Senior Center in Northampton or at St. Andrew's Church. He said that he thought many seniors would rather take advantage of existing senior activities and not bare the tax burden that building a community center would entail. He said that a referendum for a community center had failed recently in Lower Makefield.

Mr. Ott said that perhaps the Park and Recreation Board should ascertain exactly what contribution the business community is prepared to make toward a community center project.

Mrs. Zambriczki said that she thought that the Park and Recreation Board should also consider the recreational needs of non-athletes.

Mr. Clancy said that he would like to continue to pursue active recreation at the Woll tract. He said that there are 9,000 residents of Newtown between the ages of 2 and 17, and that 4,000 of them are enrolled in an organized sport.

Approval of Minutes:

Mr. Clancy said that page two, paragraph two, should read "that may no longer be reflective".

Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of August 6, 2003 as amended. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 8-0.

Kosacci Major Sub-Division Preliminary Plan:

Mr. Emmanuel Kosacci presented his preliminary plan for a major subdivision off of Washington Crossing Road. He said that the 10.68-acre lot would be divided into four parcels. There would be no available land contiguous with the creek to be dedicated to the Township.

Mrs. Sutton moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space for this project. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 8-0.

Old Business:

Clark Nature Center:

Mr. Strover said that he had been looking into the history of the Clark house and had learned that the original dwelling, consisting of one room on the first floor and two on the second, represents a style typical of homes in pre-Revolutionary America. He said that he would like to further investigate the house's history, with the goal of restoring the house to demonstrate typical life in America 1750-1838. He suggested that the portions of the house that had been added later, along with the garage and the barn loft could be used to store and display various artifacts of Newtown's history. He suggested that a sub-committee be formed to govern the restoration and maintenance of the buildings, to develop fundraising activities, and to guide the use of the buildings. He thought that the sub-committee should be made up of members of the Park and Recreation Board, HARB and the Joint Historical Society.

Mr. Bires said that he thought that this was an excellent plan, and he asked if anyone present wished to serve on the sub-committee. Mrs. Sutton, Ethel Hibbs and Mary Donaldson expressed interest in volunteering.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that she felt strongly that the Park and Recreation Board should not be starting any new projects until they had addressed the community center issue. She said that it was her understanding that the only money budgeted for the Clark Nature Center was for access to the property for storage of public works equipment. She also felt that the name of the property should be "Mary and Lyman Clark Nature Preserve". She said that the property should honor both of the Clarks. She also questioned whether it was the intent of the Clarks to have their property used in this manner. She questioned whether it had been their intention for the property to be used for archeology camps.

Mrs. Milnor said that she had known the Clark family well. She said that Mrs. Clark had been a modest woman who would not have insisted that her name be used for the property. She said that she felt that Mrs. Clark would have approved of the preservation project suggested, especially if a place were found for displaying her paintings and her collections. She also said that Mr. Clark had enjoyed digging around the property and showing his findings. She said that she thought that Mr. Clark would have approved of the archeology project.

Mr. Levine moved to recommend that a sub-committee be formed to supervise restoration and maintenance of the Clark home and buildings. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 8-0.

Mr. Jirele suggested that members of HARB and the Joint Historic Commission be involved in this project, and members be sought to serve on the committee.

Roberts Ridge Park:

Mr. Levine reported that the Board of Supervisors had approved money to update the site plan for Roberts Ridge Park to include the handicapped specific playground equipment, a picnic grove/pavilion, accelerated tree planting and restrooms. He said that he would review the plans with the Planning Commission.

Mr. Wert reported that the port-a-potty had been knocked over twice last weekend, and the playground equipment had been vandalized. The playground was closed for a day while the area was cleaned.

Mrs. Sutton asked if the updated plans would include a children's garden.

Mr. Levine said that he would like to include such a garden, near the restrooms, so that water would be available.

Active Recreation Subcommittee:

Mr. Clancy reported that the sub-committee was still working on preparing a presentation for the Board of Supervisors to request funding to revise the comprehensive plan for the Woll tract. He said that the sub-committee was confused about the correct procedure for requesting that money be budgeted for the project.

Mr. Levine suggested that the Planning Commission should be consulted early in the planning, as they have knowledge of the history of the property, the surrounding property, the codes and zoning.

Mr. Ott said that the Planning Commission would be interested in looking at informal sketch plans for the property. They could be helpful with such things as road access. He said that they were involved in creating the comprehensive plan, and would have valuable input in revising that plan. He said that it has become a concern among Planning Commission members that work is underway on the Woll tract already, when they have not even seen a sketch plan.

Mr. Wert said that the Township has been given good quality topsoil by some of the developers. They are accepting delivery for playing fields at the Staples property and Helen Randle fields, and are intending to create buffering berms at the Woll tract. The topsoil is available now, so the Township Manager applied for permits from PennDOT to access the property from Rte 413 for delivery of this topsoil. He said that in order to create adequate sight lines, some trees had been removed, and a gravel drive had been put down.

Mr. Jirele said that at this time there is not a standard procedure for developing plans. He said that this is something that the Board of Supervisors should address, so that they can give clear direction to the Park and Recreation Board as to how to proceed with plans.

Mr. Grosso and Mr. Clancy said that they would attend the next Planning Commission meeting to discuss revising the comprehensive plan. Mr. O'Neill agreed to attend the Planning Commission as a liaison with the Park and Recreation Board.

Liaison Reports:

Planning Commission:

Mr. Ott said that the Planning Commission had reviewed the history of plans for Village at Newtown, and the plan that had allocated space for a community center had never been filed by the developer.

Park and Recreation Director's Report:

Mr. Wert reported that Park and Recreation Department has seen an increase of 6% in revenue and 16% in participation. Summer camps have been very successful, and will have been completed on August 8, 2003.

Four benches have been installed at the Clark Nature Center. The archeology camps at the Clark Nature center were very popular. The children uncovered many artifacts, which were numbered and labeled. These items were all found in five-inch deep pits. Some Boy Scout Eagle projects have been proposed, including corral clean-up, trail extensions and a bird blind.

Mr. Wert said that he had also been involved in researching the history of the Clark house. He has been reviewing personal papers with the Milnors, and has spoken with Dave Callahan of the Historical Society about storage of these old documents. He said that he had learned that in 1923 the property had been confiscated for failure to pay taxes and been sold to Cheltenham Builders for $130.00.

Adjournment:

Mr. O'Neill moved to adjourn at 9:35 PM. Mrs. Zambriczki seconded and the motion passed 8-0.

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

______________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary