PARK AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF JANUARY 7, 2004
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Clancy moved to approve the minutes of January 7, 2004. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 5-0, with Mr. O’Neill and Mrs. Sutton Abstaining.
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, January 7, 2004, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Joel Grosso, Vice-Chairman; Michael Clancy, John Davis, and Kathy Kelly, members. Also in attendance were: Richard Weaver, Supervisor; Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director, Russell G. Strover, Naturalist; and Frank Mendicino, Planning Commission Liaison.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Grosso moved to accept the minutes of December 3, 2003. Mr. Clancy seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Reorganization of Board
Mr. Davis nominated Mr. Levine to serve as Chairman. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Clancy nominated Mr. Grosso to serve as Vice-Chairman. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Review of Existing and New Sub Committees
Mr. Levine reminded the Board that he had suggested in December that some of the sub-committees might be combined, and some new sub-committees should be formed to better serve the community. He had suggested that three sub-committees be formed: Park Planning, Senior Citizen Recreation, and Open Space.
Mr. Levine said that there had been some talk in the community about the recreational needs of our senior citizens. He suggested that a sub-committee take responsibility to first investigate all programs currently available to senior citizens in Newtown, then to evaluate interest in new senior citizen recreation programs. He suggested that the sub-committee meet with the director of the Council Rock Senior Center, and with the St. Andrew's Senior Center. He thought that Kathy Pawlenko, the program director for Newtown Township should also be contacted for input on current program participation among our senior citizens, and whether there could be successful expansion of Park and Recreation Department offerings.
Mr. Weaver said that he is the Newtown Township liaison with the Council Rock Senior Center, and would like to work with this sub-committee. He said that 16% of the Council Rock Senior Center members are Newtown Township residents, and membership increases at their Northampton center by 15 to 30 members a month. He suggested that the sub-committee consider ways to help the Newtown Township senior population become aware of this center's many offerings. He said that there are ongoing informal daily activities such as card playing and billiards, as well as classes, events and trips.
Mr. Levine suggested that an Open Space sub-committee be formed to keep an inventory of the open space in Newtown. He said that there is open space that is owned by the Township, County and State as well as privately owned open space. The committee's goal should be to preserve this existing open space, and to plan for the future, by reviewing the development plans that are presented to this Board, and making recommendations as to whether to accept a fee in lieu of open space. He also said that he thought that this sub-committee could be involved in planning for the Township's open space and the ways to preserve and maintain it, whether as lawns, meadows or reforrested land.
Mr. Grosso suggested that this sub-committee should also keep track of the funds generated by these fees.
Mr. Wert said that he will make those figures available as part of his monthly report to the Board. He also said that he thought that although only the Board of Supervisors can decide when and whether to acquire additional open space, this sub-committee should act in an advisory capacity on such decisions.
Mr. Davis said that he thought that there should be an effort made by this sub-committee to keep the community informed of the open space areas within the Township. He also suggested that the Shade Tree Commission remain an active part of this sub-committee, and they will be necessary if the Township seeks a "Tree City" designation.
Mr. Mendicino pointed out that the of the twenty-one acres of Township owned open space opposite Newtown Elementary School on Wrights Road, only five acres can ever be developed because of wetland, floodplain and setback restrictions.
Mr. Strover said that he has worked on obtaining grants for trees in the past, and grants are still available and he thought that the sub-committee should continue to pursue grant money.
Mr. Levine suggested that all of the sub-committees for development of the various parks be combined into one sub-committee for Park Planning. He had asked if the Board could invite members of the public to serve on this sub-committee from time to time, but had been told that only the Board of Supervisors can make such apointments.
Mr. Clancy said that he and Mr. Grosso had also been looking into organizational grants for field development at the Woll Tract. These grants would be for construction.
Mr. Weaver distributed copies of the new Capital Improvement Program. He noted that the spreadsheet did not show the Silver Lake funds that are in escrow for parking.
Mr. Mendicino said that he had been appointed as liaison by the Planning Commission at their last meeting. He said that he was very impressed with the work the Park and Recreation Board has done. He said that he would like to help the Board with planning issues, such as road access, storm water management and parking.
Board of Supervisors
Mr. Weaver said that the Board of Supervisors would like the Park and Recreation Board to continue to focus on prioritizing park projects and planning.
Park and Recreation Director's Report
Mr. Wert reported that the Park and recreation Department had a revenue increase of 4% and a participation increase of 14% for 2003. He said that the Park and Recreation Department was 88% self-sufficient, with $41,000 in taxpayer funds used to support the department. He said that Northampton Township Park and Rec, which has a much larger budget, has a similar ratio of self-sufficiency.
Mr. Mendicino asked if Mr. Wert had any information on Newtown Township residents' participation in Northampton programs.
Mr. Levine said that Mr. O'Neill has some information on this.
Mr. Wert presented a draft of a request for a proposal for a master plan for the Woll Tract. He asked Mr. Grosso and Mr. Clancy to review the draft so that he could present it to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Clancy said that he and Mr. Grosso had a great many questions about planning the park. He said that they had not resolved the issue of access to the property and did not understand how a plan could be drawn when access had not been established. He said that the placement of fields, parking, etc would be very different depending on whether access is through Eagle Road, Wrights Road or Durham Road.
Mr. Mendicino said that the engineers chosen to draw the master plan would prepare a plan with three different layouts showing the three different access points. This plan with three different accesses would be presented to the Planning Commission. He said that the plans would be drafts, and revisions would be made as the Planning Commission reviewed all three sketch plans. He said that Penn DOT could not deny the Township access to the Woll Tract along 413. He said that the Planning Commission would be helpful in determining which of the three access points would be the most desirable.
Mr. Wert said that Elliot Builders had donated 50 trees that have been planted in Helen Randle Park, as part of their final plan approval.
Mr. Levine reported that the improvements for Roberts Ridge Park would be on the agenda of the Planning Commission on January 20, 2004.
Mr. Grosso said that St. Andrew's School is having a camp fair and our Park and Rec camps might want to be represented there.
Mr. Weaver said that he had received an e-mail from the Newtown Place Homeowners Association advising that they would not oppose lights at Chandler Field.
Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 9:30PM. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary