PARK AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF FEBRUARY 4, 2004
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of February 4, 2004. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, February 4, 2004 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Joel Grosso, Vice-Chairman; Michael Clancy, John Davis, Kathy Kelly, Buck O’Neill and Sue Sutton, members. Also in attendance were: Scott Harp, Supervisor; Russell G. Strover, Naturalist; Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director; and Frank Mendicino, Planning Commission Liaison.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.
Mr. Jim McCrane of St. Andrews Briar was in attendance to discuss the Woll Tract. He said that although the Woll Tract was not on the evening’s agenda, he had seen in the minutes of the January meeting that there had been some discussion about accessing the tract through Eagle Road. He said that he had understood from discussions at previous meetings that the land connecting Eagle Road to the Woll Tract could only be used for emergency access, and yet he noted that the Requests for Proposals (RFP) would include plans for three access options, one being Eagle Road. He said that he was very concerned about increased traffic along Eagle Road if the park entrance were placed there. He said that the entrance to his street has very limited sight line distances. He said that he and his neighbors were very concerned about increased traffic, and the safety of cars attempting to exit a park onto Eagle Road.
Mr. Levine asked Mr. McCrane if his builder had ever stated in writing that this land would never be developed or that it was only to be used for emergency access.
Mr. McCrane said that he does have documents stating that the land is “open space, not to be developed”.
Mr. Wert said that Mr. Harris, the Township Solicitor has been reviewing this question, and that it seems that there are no restrictions on this Township owned land.
Mr. Mendicino said that the Planning Commission had discussed this property during the development phase, and it is his recollection that there are no restrictions on the land.
Mr. Davis said that as part of the planning process, proposals will be drawn showing access to the property from Wrights Road, Eagle Road and Durham Road. All three of these access points will be considered before a decision is made on the final design for the park.
Mr. Wert said that there would be a few public meetings about the park plan, and the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors would also review the proposed plan in public meetings.
Mr. Greg Killian, representing Pheasant Pointe Homeowners Association asked what the timeline for the development of the Woll Tract would be.
Mr. Clancy said that the RFP deadline is February 27, with public meetings in April or May, and a final plan chosen by July 2, 2004. He said that groundbreaking should be in May of 2005.
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.
Yamamoto Preliminary Plan
Mr. Bill Breigel, Director of Planning and Engineering for Orleans Corporation, was present to discuss the preliminary plans for 18 homes on ½ acre lots on a 27.7 acre parcel along Rte 532. He said that 55% of the land would remain as open space. He said that the open space would surround the homes as woods and fallow fields. The only large portion of land abuts the Woods of Saxony open space.
Mr. Grosso asked if there was access to this space from Rte 532.
Mr. Breigel said that the space could only be accessed through the yards of the homes and through the Woods of Saxony common ground. He said that the land would belong to the Homeowners Association and would be maintained as woods and fields.
Mr. Wert said that a fee in lieu of open space would be about $93,000.
Mr. Davis moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space for this property. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Jim Worthington, owner of Newtown Athletic Club, said that he has had a good relationship with the Park and Recreation Department in the past, and has been able to help sponsor programs jointly, and to allow the department to use some of his rooms for Township Park and Rec programs. He said that he is aware that the Park and Rec Department has had a hard time finding locations for some of the classes that they would like to offer, and he has tried to help when he could. He said that he has recently begun to negotiate to acquire the Dunmore property next to his club. He said that he is also an owner of the vacant lot on the other side of the Dunmore property. He said that he would like to include the Park and Recreation Department, and this Board, as he begins planning for this property.
Mr. Worthington said that the Dunmore property is 50,000 square feet of warehouse space. About 8,000 square feet of the space is suitable for office or conference rooms. He said that the warehouse area has very high ceilings, suitable for basketball courts or an auditorium.
Mr. Worthington said that he has no definite plans in place yet for this property, and has considered either finding a tenant, using the building himself or demolishing the building. He said that he will be looking at the building with an architect tomorrow, and asked if the Park and Recreation Board had any interest in pursuing a joint venture of any kind. He asked if there was any requirement that the Park and Recreation Department be located at the Municipal Complex. He asked if this Board would like to look at the facility with him and possibly continue discussion.
Mr. Harp said that the Park and Recreation offices could be at another location.
Mr. Wert agreed to join Mr. Worthington and his architect to look at the property and report back to the Board.
Mr. Levine reported that he had attended the January 20, 2004 Planning Commission meeting to discuss the proposed additions to Roberts Ridge Park. He said that the Planning Commission did not think that the proposed parking lot should be placed along Lower Dolington Road because it would be unsightly and dangerous. They also felt that all of the parking options are too far away from the playground structure, especially if a handicapped specific play structure is added. They suggested that the entire structure be moved closer to the proposed restrooms and the existing parking area. They questioned whether there was adequate handicapped parking for the additional handicapped specific play structure.
Mr. Mendicino said that at the Planning Commission meeting, they had also discussed the water and electric lines to be brought in to the proposed restrooms.
Mr. Wert provided the Board with a memo outlining his conversation with Buzz Burger, Inc, who had originally installed the playground, in which he discusses relocating the play structure closer to the parking lot. Buzz Burger estimated that relocating the structure to another location in the park would cost $19,800. This estimate does not include site preparation at the new location and regrading the current site, nor does it include the safety surfacing and borders.
The Board discussed possibly relocating only the handicapped play structure closer to the parking lot. Mr. Wert said that he thought that it is more important to include the handicapped structure as part of the playground, rather than separating it. He said that the special safety surface needed for the handicapped structure is similar to the surface that is now under the play area for small children, and could easily be incorporated into that portion of the playground. Borders can help to keep the wood chips inside the play area for the older children and away from the handicapped structure to make it safer for children on crutches and in wheelchairs.
Mr. Clancy stated that the entire park is not really very large, and that the location of the playground is not very far at all from the parking lot, and moving the structure would only really save a few steps. He suggested that the handicapped equipment should be placed on the side of the structure closest to the path and the parking lot.
Mr. Harp said that the Board of Supervisors had budgeted money for an addition to the parking area, and they would like this Board to make recommendations as to a location for this additional parking. He said that the Board of Supervisors would make a final decision based on this Board’s recommendation, and would also consider input from the Planning Commission.
Mr. Grosso said that if the Planning Commission did not want to add the parking lot on the Lower Dolington side of the park, he would like this Board to recommend that parking not be permitted along Lower Dolington Road at all. He said that people want to park there, and are not using the existing parking lot. He said that this would continue to be the case unless the parking lot is the only permitted parking. He suggested that the Board should possibly recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they not build any additional parking lot, as the current parking lot and the spaces along Lower Dolington Road are adequate.
Mr. Levine pointed out that this Board had already made that recommendation to the Board of Supervisors when they reviewed the proposed Park and Recreation budget. He said that at this point, the Board of Supervisors had voted to build additional parking with an eye to future growth of the park facilities, and they are only asking this Board for a recommendation of a location.
Mr. Strover and Mr. O’Neill suggested extending the existing parking area to the south for an additional 46 spaces. Mr. Strover pointed out that fewer trees would be disturbed if the lot were extended southward.
Mr. Clancy said that he agreed with Mr. Grosso that additional parking is not really necessary at this time, but if the lot is being planned for future uses of the park, he would also like to recommend that parking be restricted along Lower Dolington Road. He said that he feels that it is dangerous to park there with young children and he agreed with Mr. Grosso that as long as parking is permitted, people would park there rather than in the parking lot.
Mr. Davis said that he did not think it was the place of this Board to make recommendations about parking and traffic. He said that the Township Traffic Engineer had studied this situation and had determined that it is not hazardous on the west side of the street.
Mr. Grosso moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the existing parking lot at Roberts Ridge Park be extended to the south for an additional 46 parking spots, and that parking be eliminated along the west side of Lower Dolington Road. Mr. Clancy seconded.
Mr. Wert said that when the Township Engineers had evaluated the parking on Lower Dolington Road, they said it is safe to park there, however they suggested that it might be safer to restrict parking from Frost Lane to the lower end of the park on the west side of Lower Dolington Road.
Mr. Grosso amended his motion to restrict parking along the west side of Lower Dolington Road for the length of the park. Mr. Clancy seconded the amended motion and the motion passed 6-1, with Mr. Davis voting nay.
Mr. Levine provided copies of a letter dated February 3, 2004, addressed to the Board of Supervisors from Paul Salvatore, rescinding the Newtown Rotary offer to donate $8,000 to be used toward the purchase of handicapped specific playground equipment for Roberts Ridge Park. The letter further indicated that the Rotary intends to donate the money to Newtown Borough for the renovation to the playground at the former Chancellor Street School.
Mr. Harp said that the Board of Supervisors intended to write a response to Rotary International, addressing the Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board’s planning process for a handicapped playground facility. He said that it is Mr. Salvatore’s contention that Newtown Township has not followed up on this offer, and the Board of Supervisors will respond, explaining that this Board has been working with the Township Planner and the Board of Supervisors to design the playground alongside the existing ADA compliant playground in Roberts Ridge Park, giving consideration to such problems as parking and sidewalk access to the equipment.
Mr. Levine asked whether discussion of the handicapped playground should be tabled until it is ascertained whether the Chancellor Street playground will be handicapped specific, and whether there is a need in the community for two handicapped specific playgrounds.
Mr. Wert noted that the $8,000 anticipated from the Rotary donation was to be added to the $40,000 that Newtown Township had budgeted toward this playground project. He noted that a substantial portion of the cost of a handicapped specific playground would be for safety surface and access to the playground area. He suggested that he invite a representative from Little Tykes to attend the next meeting to discuss equipment and safety surfacing.
Mr. Harp suggested that the Board of Supervisors respond to Mr. Salvatore, but that this Board continue to plan for a handicapped specific playground area at Roberts Ridge Park.
Board of Supervisors
Mr. Harp reported that the First Fourth Steering Committee had met and voted to hold this year’s celebration on July 7, 2004 at the Newtown Middle School. He invited the Park and Rec Board members to participate in the planning.
Mr. Mendicino reported that the Planning Commission had reviewed a change to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance that Upper Makefield had proposed that would restrict lights in parks. He said that our Planning Commission had recommended that Upper Makefield make a “stand alone” ordinance so that the lights would not be restricted in Newtown. He also mentioned that our current ordinance would not permit a community center in the L-I District, although a municipal complex is permitted by right.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mr. Wert reported that the Park and Recreation department had a 68% increase in revenue and 11% increase in participation. He noted that the department was allowing Newtown residents to register early for summer camp and this had contributed to the increase in revenue.
Mr. Wert reported that he had sent out 20 requests for proposals for the Woll Tract.
Mr. Wert reported that Mrs. Kelly will be presenting the plans for Silver Lake Park to the Planning Commission on February 17. These plans include a 22-stall parking lot, some grading work, an informal ball field, and a fountain.
The Newtown Little League had made a presentation to the Board of Supervisors and the Township Solicitor has been reviewing the history of Chandler Fields, as some residents have claimed that there are some restrictions on the fields. Mr. Wert said that he will forward any information he receives about this in the next Park and Rec packet.
Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 10:00PM. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary