PARK AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF DECEMBER 3, 2003
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Grosso moved to accept the minutes of December 3, 2003. Mr. Clancy seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, December 3, 2003 at the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Joel Grosso, Vice-Chairman; Michael Clancy, John Davis, Kathy Kelly, and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were: Scott Harp and Tom Jirele, Supervisors; Russell G. Strover, Naturalist; Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director; and Jim Ott, Planning Commission Liaison.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM
Agenda Changes and Additions
Add New Business - Pickering Manor Expansion Sketch Plan
Mr. Levine said that after the presentation of Pickering Manor, he would like to discuss making some changes to existing sub-committees. He said that he thought that some new sub-committees might be needed, and that some existing sub-committees could possibly be consolidated.
Pickering Manor Expansion – Sketch Plan
Mr. Jude Wessels of Vitetta Engineers, and Ms. Donna Clark, administrator of Pickering Manor Nursing Home were present to discuss a plan for enclosing an existing internal courtyard to create a year round atrium.
Mr. Levine said that he had a professional relationship with the engineering firm and would recuse himself from any voting.
Mr. Wessels said that he had received a letter from the Newtown Township Codes Department asking him to present his plans to the Park and Recreation Board but he did not know exactly why. He said that he had made a similar presentation to the Planning Commission of December 2, 2003.
Mr. Ott said that the Planning Commission had voted unanimously to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they waive the land development requirements for this project. The Planning Commission felt that land development requirements were unnecessary because the enclosure was of an existing patio, and would not be visible from the street. He said that no additional housing units are planned for this enclosure.
Mr. Levine explained that the Ordinance requires that additions to building footprints require a donation of open space or a fee in lieu of open space to the Township, however he was not sure that this would be required since the project only puts a roof over an existing impervious surface and is entirely surrounded by the Pickering Manor buildings.
Mr. Wessels said that the project still was within the maximum impervious surface ratio, and no variances were required.
Mrs. Sutton moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that if this project requires the donation of open space, that the Board accept a fee in lieu of open space, and that because this is a non-profit organization, that the Board waive any fee in lieu of open space. Mr. Clancy seconded and the motion passed 5-0-1, with Mr. Levine abstaining.
Board Discussion of Sub-Committees
Mr. Levine said that he thought that this would be a good time for the Park and Recreation Board to review the existing sub-committees, and consolidate some of them He said that he would like the Board to form an Open Space sub-committee, which could encompass the shade tree commission. He would also like to re-examine the Park and Recreation Board's mission and give open space equal consideration, as the current Board had been formed when the Park and Recreation Board and the Park and Open Space Committee were combined two years ago. He suggested that the Board might also consider consolidating the various active park sub-committees into a Park Planning sub- committee.
Mr. Davis said that the Township already has a comprehensive plan for open space. He also pointed out that there is a great deal of privately owned open space, that while not available for the public to use, is deed restricted and must remain undeveloped. He mentioned that the developers are required to set aside some open space, as is the school district. There is also county and state owned open space within the Township.
Mr. Levine said that he would also like to form a sub-committee to assess the recreational needs of the senior citizens. He suggested that if a sub-committee is formed, they should review the statistical data on the senior population, spend time speaking to our recreation department about senior citizen participation in programming and meet with Sheila Jobs of Council Rock Senior Center to learn about Newtown residents participation in their senior center.
Mr. Clancy said that he thought that if there was a real need for senior programming, then senior citizens would attend Park and Rec meetings. He said that he thought that this Board had already discussed a community center and did not feel there was a need for one.
Mr. Harp said that he thought that the sub-committee could investigate whether our Park and Recreation Board could provide some senior activities with programming using existing spaces available to us. He suggested that if there is interest among senior citizens, the Park and Recreation Department might consider scheduling programs during the mornings and early afternoons.
Mr. Levine pointed out that when the Board addresses the recreational requirements of children, they have organizations that come forward with requests. Senior citizens do not have any organization to come forward with requests for programming. He said that he thought that the Board could examine outreach to the senior population at some point.
Mr. Wert said that while the 2000 census shows Newtown to have a population of over 2000 people over age 55, he was not sure of the number that would be interested in senior programming. He said that included in the 2000 census are residents who are still working full time and the residents of our nursing facilities. He said that the next Newtown Newsletter would feature information on the activities available through St. Andrews and Council Rock Senior Centers, including a telephone directory.
Mrs. Sutton suggested that a survey might help with assessing Newtown's senior programming interests.
Discussion of Budget
Mr. Levine said that in speaking with some of the Supervisors, he has begun to feel that perhaps the Park and Recreation Board should be planning with the budget in mind. He said that when he saw the proposed budget, he was surprised at the dollar amounts assigned to some of the park improvements that this Board has considered. He suggested that the Board review this year's budget and see which things could be pared down. He said that he thought it would be better for the Board to do its own review of its priorities, than have the Supervisors do it without this Board's input.
Mr. Grosso said that he did not think that the Park and Recreation Board had recommended all of the items listed in the proposed budget, for example he thought that they had made no recommendations for the Clark Nature Center, and had not been considering Silver Lake Park at all until the Board of Supervisors asked them to. He said that he thought that it would be a good idea to examine those items on the list that this Board had requested.
Mrs. Sutton said that she had always considered the Park and Recreation Board only an advisory board, and they had never been involved in budgeting, only visioning.
Mr. Grosso said that the public perception is that this Board is deciding on the money to be spent. He said that the Board should be more mindful of the costs encompassed by their suggestions.
Mr. Levine said that he agreed with Mr. Grosso, and suggested that the proposed budget be reviewed by the Board in preparation for the next meeting.
Mr. Clancy said that he thought that the Board should have been involved more in the budget process. He suggested that the Board review the budget right away, and set their priorities, rather than wait for the Board of Supervisors to make changes that they do not agree with.
Mr. Davis said that the Park and Recreation Board has in the past always made recommendations as if there was an unlimited budget, and that is how the comprehensive plan was created. He said that the allocation of funds has always come from the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Levine said that the Board does not have any mission statement, and they have sometimes wasted their time researching projects that will never be funded. It is his suggestion that the Board make its recommendations for projects that can realistically be funded.
Mr. Levine provided copies of the portion of the Newtown Township 2004 – 2009 Parks and Recreation Capital Improvement Program for the Board to review and make recommendations.
Roberts Ridge Park
Mr. Clancy said that he did not think that additional parking is really needed at Roberts Ridge Park at this time. He said that the parking lot and street parking along Lower Dolington Road are adequate for even the busiest afternoons at the playground.
Mr. Harp said that the school parking is available on weekends and in summer.
Mr. Jirele said that although there are parking requirements in the Ordinance, frequently some space is held in reserve and not developed unless a need for additional parking arises.
Mr. Levine suggested that the "pavilion" listed as costing $50,000. is not necessary. He suggested that the shade structure over the picnic tables would be needed right away, and he would like to build the restrooms also. He suggested that the trail extensions be eliminated at this time.
Mrs. Sutton said that community organizations were interested in working with the Township on the handicapped specific play structure.
Mr. Jirele said that he would contact Paul Salvatore about fundraising to help with the costs for the handicapped playground area.
Mr. Levine noted that by eliminating the additional parking, the pavilion and the trail extensions, $170,000. could be saved from the Roberts Ridge Budget.
Mr. Harp suggested that rather than use the word "eliminate" the Board consider "postponing" the improvements.
Silver Lake Park
Mrs. Sutton said that she thought that the parking area is the only necessary improvement needed this year.
Mr. Jirele said that he thought that some engineering money was in the 2003 budget, and some money was being held in escrow for parking from an old easement. He said that he would look into the engineering money in the budget for Silver Lake, but he thought that some money might be available outside of the 2004 budget.
Clark Nature Center
Mr. Levine noted that the Heritage Conservancy letter about the Clark Nature Center indicated that the barn is a historic structure worthy of preservation, but he did not think that the house needed to be restored at this time.
Mr. Wert said that the money assigned to restoration of the Clark house and barn is to keep the house in decent repair.
Mr. Harp said that he thought that the proposed trail extensions should be left in the budget, as they will improve safety for children and parents who walk to Goodnoe School and to Newtown Middle School.
Mr. Levine moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors defer the following expenses from the 2004 budget, for possible re-inclusion in the 2007/08 budget: from Roberts Ridge Park the trail system ($50,000), the pavilion ($50,000), the additional parking lot ($70,000); and from Silver Lake Park the trail system ($60,000) and that the engineering budget be reviewed for a possible additional savings of $30,000. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mr. Ott reported that the Planning Commission had also reviewed the Pickering Manor plans. He also noted that the Melsky Tract appears on the Park and Recreation Budget, however this tract belongs to Council Rock School District. He said that he had brought up the possible re-activation of the trail committee, and both Mrs. Doorley and Mrs. Beasley expressed interest in serving if the committee is formed.
Board of Supervisors
Mr. Harp reported that the Board of Supervisors would recognize Anna Marie Zambrisczki at the next Supervisors meeting for her many years of service to the community.
Park and Recreation Director's Report
Mr. Wert reported that he had hired a replacement for Karen Brask, who had resigned a few months ago. Tracy Hughes, who has worked at the YMCA, joined the staff today. She has had some experience in summer camp extended day programming at YMCA camps, and he hoped she would look into this for Newtown's camps, as the Board had suggested.
Mr. Wert said that the Park and Recreation department is now 95% self-sufficient. He said that in order to trim some expenses, the department is eliminating one brochure, reducing the number to only two a year, although it had not been determined what the new publication dates would be. He noted that this would be a 3% cut in department expenses. The biggest cost is the printing of the brochures, not the mailing. He said that by reducing the number of brochures to only two a year, he was concerned that the cut would most impact the portion of the population without children. He said that registration for programs falls off a few weeks after the brochures are mailed, and for programs occurring long after the brochure publication date, flyers are sent home with children in the daycares, nursery schools and elementary schools. Adult programs, and programs for all ages are also included in these flyers, and they produce the biggest registration response. People without children in schools do not receive any updated information or reminders of upcoming programs.
Mr. Wert said that the new brochure would be mailed in the next week. He was very pleased with the many new programs that Mrs. Pawlenko had added. He said that she had worked alone on the brochure, and had done an excellent job of providing something for every interest.
Mr. Wert reported that the new brochure would announce a new summer camp registration procedure. Camp registration for residents will take place beginning January 2, 2004 at the Park and Recreation office. He said that the department would also begin selling discount lift tickets for area ski resorts for the first time. He said that this has been a good fundraiser for other townships.
Mr. Wert thanked Mary Donaldson, the recording secretary for this Board, for helping in the Park and Recreation office while they were shorthanded.
Mr. Strover said that the Park and Recreation Department would be sponsoring a 4-H at the Clark Nature Center. The program will be offered to boys and girls ages 8 through 19. The first project planned is growing vegetables and tomatoes for the Grange Fair.
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.
Mary Donaldson Recording Secretary