PARK AND RECREATION BOARD

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

MINUTES OF OCTOBER 1, 2003


Approval of Minutes:  Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of October 1, 2003. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mr. Harp thanked the Board for its hard work over the past year, and said that he looks forward to working with them next year.
Mr. Clancy thanked the Board for a wonderful experience his first year with them.
Mr. Davis moved to adjourn at 10:00PM. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 6-0.


The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, October 1, 2003, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were Andrew Levine, Vice-Chairman; John Davis, Joel Grosso, Kathy Kelly, and Susan Sutton, members. (Anna Marie Zambriczki arrived later). Also in attendance were Richard Weaver, Township Supervisor; Russell Strover, Township Naturalist; and Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director. 

Call to Order 

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

Re-organization 

Mr. Levine said that Bernard Bires, former chairman, will not be returning to the Board, and the Township Supervisors have asked him to re-organize the Board, electing a new Chairman and Vice-Chairman. 

Mr. Davis moved to nominate Andrew Levine as Chairman. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 5-0. 

Mr. Davis nominated Mr. Grosso as Vice-Chairman. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 5-0. 

Mr. Levine then asked that the Board members begin to consider a way to acknowledge Mr. Bires' many years of stellar service to the Park and Recreation Board and to the Township. 

Presentation by Rock Newtown Girls Softball Association 

Mr. Pat Cawley, President and Mr. Joseph Garvey, Vice President of Rock Newtown Girls Softball Association, were present to speak to the Board about their "wish list" for the 2004 season.

Mr. Cawley said that the Rock Softball league has had a very successful season. The league has grown from 24 to 32 teams. They have re-opened the snack shed at Helen Randle Park and have hosted a tournament at the park. They are very excited about all of their teams, especially the growth and success of their competitive travel team. He said that it is the goal of the Rock Girls Softball Association to develop a solid program that girls in their teens will continue to participate in. He said that as the girls turn 16 they begin to look to other leagues for competitive programs. 

Mr. Cawley presented a list of three requests for the Board to consider: permanent lighting for Helen Randle field 6; a better drainage system for field 1, with improved maintenance for both fields 1 and 6; and fenced in bench areas for all fields. 

Mr. Cawley said that the lights would extend the playing time into the evenings in early spring and also help to enable the League to remain competitive with the other Townships in the travel league. He said that the Rock has investigated the costs of purchase and installation and gotten prices from Armor Electric, who installed the High School lights and from Musco of Iowa. He said that the Musco lighting would cost about $30,000. He also said that the Rock would be willing to work with the Township to help with funding for the lights. 

Mr. Garvey said that the Rock would work toward raising funds for the lights, but that the lights are necessary, both for competitive tournament play, and for teams in the regular season. He said that the tournaments can bring as many as 480 children, with their families, to Newtown. He said that these families spend the day, eating lunch and dinner in area restaurants. 

Mr. Levine said that residents who have attended Park and Recreation Board meetings have expressed concern about field lighting and about tournaments. The Board agreed that it would be a good idea for The Rock to gain the support of the nearby residents, especially in Tyler Walk, before they present the lighting request to the Board of Supervisors. They also thought it might be helpful to provide some numbers to support the claim that hosting a tournament provides economic benefit to the Township.

Mr. Wert said that the Township Public Works Department would work with both the Rock Girls Softball and with Newtown Little League to improve field maintenance and drainage. 

Mr. Cawley said that the request for fenced in bench areas was for the safety of the players. 

Mr. Levine moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they approve the installation of permanent lighting on field 6 of Helen Randle Park, with the condition that Newtown Rock Girls Softball and the Township coordinate funding efforts and that there is no opposition from the community; and to approve fenced in bench areas to promote the safety of the players. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 5-0. 

Mr. Grosso said that the Rock Softball's input would be important in the planning for the development of the Woll Tract for active recreation. 

Mr. Cawley thanked the Board for their consideration. He said that the lighting that the league is considering is very direct and is not very visible beyond the field areas. 

Newtown Little League 

Mr. David Felker, President and Mr. Howard Lemonick, Vice President of Newtown Little League presented their "wish list" for the Spring 2004 season. 

Mr. Felker asked the Board to consider a list including ten requests:

  1. five lock boxes with combination locks for equipment storage at Helen Randle and Chandler fields;
  2. fenced dugouts at the Chandler Intermediate (front) field, with tarp covering the sides and roof, and tarps and roofs for the already enclosed back field;
  3. rebuilding of Major (back) field at Chandler to correct drainage and ramping effect;
  4. practice pitching mounds and permanent home plates at the Major (back) field at Chandler;
  5. lights for the Major (back) field at Chandler and Field 6 at Helen Randle Park
  6. a pitchers mound at the middle field at Chandler;
  7. relocation of the fence to a distance of 200 feet from home plate on the Intermediate (front) field at Chandler;
  8. protective fence along Sycamore Street at the front field at Chandler;
  9. paving of the gravel parking area next to the front field at Chandler;
  10. input into the planning of the fields when the Woll Tract is developed including sizes of fields being constructed in accordance to "baseball standards", use of Turface infield surface, enclosed dugouts, batting cages, enclosed bullpens, full service snack bars, restrooms, electronic scoreboards and lights.

Mr. Felker said that the fenced and covered dugouts, the rebuilding of fields, and the fencing along Sycamore Street were all considered necessary for player safety. He said that the relocation of the fencing at the front field, the practice pitching mounds and the lights are requested to help the players have a better learning experience and to make them more competitive with neighboring leagues. They would also be better able to host some tournaments, although typically, little league tournaments are not as large as those hosted by Girls Softball. He said that there has been an injury caused by flying gravel at the parking lot. 

Mr. Felker said that the Little League had also been investigating the Musco lighting that Mr. Cawley had discussed for the girls fields. He said that the lighting produces minimal light polution, and is set on a timer to go off at a predetermined curfew time. He said that the Little League would also want to be involved in fundraising efforts to help defray costs. 

Mr. Grosso asked if the additional playing time afforded by lighted fields would cause additional wear and tear. He also asked if the practice times would be extended after dark on school nights. 

Mr. Wert said that he did not think that the fields would be adversely affected by the additional playing time, as baseball does not tear up the fields the way that football and soccer do. 

Mr. Weaver said that he was aware that Lower Makefield limits evening practices to two nights a week, ending by 8:00PM during the school year. 

Mr. Felker said that a similar curfew would be adopted in Newtown. 

Mr. Wert said that the Public Works Department would work with the Little League on the pitching mounds requested. He also noted that permission to install a fence along Sycamore Street at Little League expense had already been given in the 2003 "wish list". He said that he was not sure that it would be possible to re-locate the fence as requested in item 7. He said that the area would have to be measured. 

Mrs. Zambriczki arrived at this point in the meeting. 

Mr. Levine said that the Planning Commission would have to review the paving of the gravel parking lot, as this would increase impervious surface. 

Mr. Wert suggested that Little League also provide some data to support the claim of economic benefit to the Township when hosting tournaments. 

Mr. Davis said that, because some residents had expressed concern over the hosting of tournaments, it would also be important to include data on the number of Newtown children participating in these tournaments. He also suggested that the Little League gain the support of the neighbors for the installation of lights on the fields. 

Mr. Levine moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they approve requests 1 through 7 and 9 with the condition that logistics and funding be worked out with Mr. Wert and the Board of Supervisors, and that the Planning Commission be consulted about paving of the parking area and installation of lights. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 6-0. 

Mr. Grosso told Mr. Felker that the Little League would be consulted as part of the planning of the active recreation fields at the Woll Tract. 

Agenda Change 

New Business 

Newtown Yardley Road Associates (Newtown Office Park) 

Mr. Bill Messick was present to show plans for the development of 9.2 acres on Newtown Yardley Road at Friends Lane. The plans call for 4 two-story office buildings, with a 40,280 square foot footprint, for general office and medical uses. He said that some local dentists have shown interest in locating to this office park. He said that he had calculated the fee in lieu of open space at $52,001. 

Mrs. Sutton moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they accept a fee in lieu of open space for this project. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 6-0. 

Approval of the Minutes of September 3, 2003 

Mr. Grosso noted that page 3, paragraph 4 should read "in the capital planning budget". 

Mrs. Kelly moved to accept the minutes as amended. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 5-0, with Mr. Levine abstaining. 

Review of Community Center Ad Hoc Committee Report 

Mr. Levine said that he had spoken to Mr. Jim Worthington about attending this meeting. Mr. Worthington was unable to attend, but will attend a future meeting to discuss current and future involvement of the business community in recreation activities. 

Mrs. Sutton said that she had reviewed the Ad Hoc Committee Report and did not feel that a need for a community center had been demonstrated. 

Mr. Levine said that at a prior meeting a resident had requested that this Board review and discuss the report. He asked Mrs. Zambriczki to comment on the report, as she had been part of the Ad Hoc Committee. 

Mrs. Zambriczki said that in the early 1990's she had participated in an informal committee that was formed to address the recreational needs of teenagers. She said that as the children get older, the various sports team opportunities dwindle, and many of the children are no longer interested in sports. She said that this committee began first to go to locations where teenagers congregated, and then they held Sunday evening meetings at the Township Building with teens. The teens all said that there is nothing to do and no place to go after school or on weekend evenings. For the most part, the teens were looking for a place to just hang out with friends, listen to music and to talk. They showed little interest in organized activities. This committee sponsored a few "battle of the bands" events at God's Love Luteran Church that were well attended. 

The committee felt that if a place were established for the teens, such as a community center, that it could also be used during the school day by senior citizens. It would also have been nice to have some rooms for the Park and Recreation department to use for its programs and classes. 

Some few years later, the Board of Supervisors appointed the Ad Hoc Committee to investigate the viability of a community center. The Acme property was about to become available to the Township for lease, and, because of its location within walking distance to the High School, seemed like a good temporary location for such a center. 

At the time that the report was completed and presented to the Board of Supervisors, it had become apparent that the Board of Supervisors was favoring inviting the YMCA to build in Newtown, and that renovation of the Acme would be too costly for a short term community center location. The committee was disbanded and the matter was dropped. 

Mrs. Sutton said that she thought that there had been some improvement in the availability of teen activities, specifically the teen dances sponsored by the NAC. She also said that the senior citizens that she knows are already very actively involved with the Council Rock Senior Center, which they feel is more than adequate. 

Mrs. Zambriczki said that the Ad Hoc Committee, and she personally, felt at the time of the report, that a Community Center would have met the needs of the teens more than a YMCA would have. She said that there are already plenty of gyms and sports related activities in Newtown. What her informal committee had learned was that many teens were looking for a place to go without having to participate in a structured, supervised activity. 

Mrs. Kelly said that she did not feel that there is enough for teens in Newtown. She said that she agreed that what the teens need is just a location for hanging out with friends, not necessarily with organized events and programs. 

Mr. Levine said that he thought that it might be a good idea to approach some of the business leaders in the community and request that they make a commitment to help with some teen activities, and some meeting space. 

Mr. Davis asked if Mr. Wert felt that the Park and Recreation Department was being given adequate consideration in the planning of the proposed municipal expansion. 

Mr. Wert responded that in some of the proposals the Park and Recreation Department would be given space in the current Public Works building. In some plans Park and Recreation has been given four meeting rooms and the use of the kitchen. He said that he hoped that the final plans would still include meeting space for Park and Rec, because right now they are at the mercy of their hosts at area health clubs, churches and schools. 

Mr. Grosso said that when this Board had evaluated its priorities at the July 2, 2003 meeting they had agreed that active recreation was the Board's number one priority. He said that he would like to see space allocated to Park and Rec in the municipal expansion, and he would like to continue to work with the business community to provide some teen activities, but he felt that the Board should continue to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that development of active recreation facilities is the top priority. The rest of the Board expressed agreement with Mr. Grosso on this. 

Shade Tree Commission

Mr. Strover reported that he had recently replaced three Liberty Elm Trees at Roberts Ridge Park. 

Clark Nature Center 

Mr. Strover provided copies of some aerial photographs of the Clark Nature Center, on which he had outlined the property lines, existing trails, trails in progress and streams. He noted that the property is larger than they had thought, and that he has discovered an already existing trail from the property to Helen Randle Park. 

Mr. Wert said that he was investigating the possibility of a lease agreement with PECO for a trail up to Twining Bridge Road. He said that Horsham Township has a trail system along the PECO wires, and he would like to speak to the Horsham Park and Rec Department about their trail. 

Mr. Strover reported that picnic tables had been installed at the property, along with some benches along the trails. 

Mr. Wert said that Jeffrey Marshall of the Heritage Conservancy had visited the Clark house and Barn this week. Mr. Marshall said that he thought that the house was probably constructed in the mid 1800's, and that it had been built in one piece. He suggested that this might not have been the original house location. He suspected that what we had thought was the springhouse might have been the original house. He also expressed great interest in the construction of the barn, which is constructed of hand hewn beams and asymetrical gables, which are of a German influence. Mr. Marshall would like to continue to research the history of the buildings on a volunteer basis. 

Roberts Ridge Park 

Mr. Levine reported that the Roberts Ridge Sub-Committee had met to review the Pennoni plan. They have suggested the following changes:

  1. Rename the flower/herb garden as "garden"
  2. Move restroom building to the Northwest corner, as on the original plan
  3. Discuss parking with Planning Commission, considering options
    1. Expand Northwest parking area, eliminating parking on Lower Dolington Road
    2. Permit parking along Lower Dolington Road
    3. Add gravel to expand parking along Lower Dolington Road
  4. Reference an electric junction on South open field area
  5. Reference 25% increase in playground area
  6. Remove restroom/pavillion , change to restroom/overhang at Northwest corner
  7. Add arbor over existing picnic grove area
  8. Reference a large arbor at Southern portion of proposed picnic grove
  9. Reference trees in "garden" area
  10. Eliminate word "sledding " from hill area, refer to only as "hill" although sledding will be permitted

Mr. Wert said that parents will prefer having the restrooms closer to the playground area. 

Mr. Levine said that the Sub-Committee felt that they wanted to preserve the open aesthetic, and they did not feel that the expense involved in locating the restrooms near the playground was justified. The plumbing costs will be considerably less if the restroom is located close to the parking lot. 

Park and Recreation Director's Report 

Mr. Wert reported that there is a 5% increase in revenue and an 18% increase in participation in Park and Recreation Department Programs. 

Mr. Wert reported that the Staples field has been rough graded. The area is large enough to provide two practice fields or one regulation playing field. The arrangement with Council Rock North High School to use this field for ninth grade teams was never finalized. 

Supervisor's Report 

Mr. Weaver reported that the Board of Supervisors had voted to approve the proposal that the Park and Recreation Board had recommended for improvements to Silver Lake Park. 

Mr. Levine said that control of the geese in this park cannot be handled by the Park and Recreation Department. He said that the Federal Government must be involved in any goose control program, as these animals are protected. 

Members Comments 

Mr. Levine said that he had organized a Yahoo Group for the Board. 

Mr. Levine moved to adjourn at 9:30PM. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 6-0. 

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

______________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary