PARK AND RECREATION BOARD

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

MINUTES OF JUNE 2, 2004


Approval of Minutes: Mr. Davis moved to accept the minutes of June 2, 2004. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 5-0-1, with Mrs. Sutton abstaining.


The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, June 2, 2004 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Joel Grosso, Vice Chairman (late); Michael Clancy, John Davis, and Kathy Kelly, members. Also in attendance were: Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director; Russell G. Strover, Naturalist; Scott Harp and Richard Weaver, Township Supervisors; and Frank Mendicino, Planning Commission Liaison. 

Call to Order 

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

Approval of Minutes 

Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of May 5, 2004.  Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1, with Mr. Levine abstaining.

New Business 

Mr. Levine reported that the Roberts Property representatives had requested that their plan be presented at the July 7, 2004 meeting. (Mr. Grosso arrived). 

Committee Reports

Park Development 

Mr. Bill Boyce and Mr. Paul Grim of Boyce Associates of Trexlertown, PA, presented preliminary plans for an expansion of the playground at Roberts Ridge Park. 

Mr. Boyce said that his firm represents Little Tykes Commercial “kid builders” playground equipment. He explained that in putting together his proposal, he included a comparison of “state Contract” pricing and “U.S. Communities” pricing, stating that the “U.S. Communities” program offered an opportunity for non-profits to purchase playground equipment at discounted prices. Mr. Wert and Mr. Levine said that they are unfamiliar with this program, and would need to research it further.

The Board discussed the plans presented. Mr. Clancy expressed concern that the plans shown kept the handicapped specific events separate from the existing equipment. 

Mr. Boyce explained that to retrofit the existing equipment would involve ramping that would require a one-inch per foot rise with a 48-inch wide ramp. He said that the existing equipment does not have the required fall zone to accommodate such long ramps, and at a few locations the width of the equipment is less than 40 inches. He said that the goal in building a handicapped accessible playground should be to “bring all of the children to the field of play”. He noted that by installing a tile safety surface around and through the existing structure, children in wheelchairs would have access to the events on the lower levels of the existing equipment. The trail would then link the existing to the proposed handicapped specific events. 

The costs for the safety surface, the equipment itself and the installation were discussed. It was noted that typically installation costs are about equal to ½ of the price of the equipment. Even with the Public Works Department preparing the site, the cost of the playground, safety surface and installation will be close to twice the $40,000 allotted in this year’s Robert’s Ridge budget. 

The Board discussed eliminating certain features of the proposed plans, but decided that they would prefer the new equipment to be very similar to the existing equipment, including the roof and palm trees. The Board agreed that they would like to see plans that would show the existing equipment and the new proposed equipment. They would like a better idea of how the two play areas would be placed in relation to one another. 

Mr. Clancy asked if it would be possible to postpone other budgeted Park and Recreation projects and use that money toward the playground. He said that he felt strongly that the additional parking area is not needed, and he would rather see the money used toward the playground instead. 

Mr. Levine said that he thought that the Park and Recreation Board should approach the Board of Supervisors with the plan, showing existing and new equipment, and ask for direction. He said that there might be some community interest in contributing toward the playground, and fundraising might also be considered in funding the project. 

Township Supervisor Thomas Jirele suggested that the Board make a presentation at the July Work Session. 

Mr. Boyce said that equipment could be delivered within three weeks of placing an order. He said that work would have to be complete before November 1, 2004 or postponed until spring because the safety surface tile cannot be installed in temperatures below 45°. 

Public Comment 

Mr. Harp introduced Tom Coates, a resident, Bill Lynch and Boyd Woodhaus, representatives of Pop Warner Football.  

Mr. Coates said that he is a teacher and football coach at Council Rock, and a father of six children. He said that he, along with many other Newtown parents, would like to see a football program in the Township. Right now children interested in football must travel to Northampton or Lower Makefield. He said that he is familiar with the Pop Warner program, and would like very much to see it in Newtown. 

Mr. Lynch and Mr. Woodhaus discussed introducing a program, first by holding “punt, pass, kick” contests to gauge community interest and support. They said that Pop Warner is open to children from ages six through sixteen, with teams organized by weight. There is a cheerleading component, as well. 

Mr. Grosso expressed concern that a tackle football program might conflict with the Township sponsored NFL flag football program. He expressed concern about the level of commitment required by such a football program. 

Mr. Lynch said that Pop Warner is a very different game than flag football. He said that he thought that there would be room for both programs. He said that Pop Warner would have travel teams, which would compete with other teams rather than establishing an intramural league in Newtown. Typically, teams have a game a week and two evening practices. He noted that eligibility is tied to school grades, and children must maintain their grades to play. He said that through the organization and through the NFL there are grants available for establishing teams as well as for fields. He explained that the initial cost for equipment can be very high. 

Mr. Wert suggested that the Newtown Little League’s parent organization, the Council Rock Newtown Athletic Association might be able to help with the introduction of such a program. 

Mr. Clancy suggested that if there is a great deal of interest in such a program, that field needs might be considered in the planning of the playing fields at the Woll tract. 

Planning Commission Report 

Mr. Mendicino reported that the Planning Commission heard a presentation for a plan to build 102 carriage houses on the Roberts Nursery tract. He said that the plans resemble age restricted housing communities, however the builder does not want to restrict the homes to 55 and over. The Planning Commission discussed the possible need for a new definition in the ordinance for this type of residential use. He noted that the Park and Recreation Board might be interested in these plans, as the development would abut Roberts Ridge Park. 

Park and Recreation Director’s Report 

Mr. Wert reported that Pickering Corts and Summerson would hold the first public meeting on the Woll tract at the July 7, 2004 Park and Recreation Board meeting. He said that notices would be placed in the newspapers, on the Web site, and that neighboring developments’ Home Owners Associations would be notified. He said that interviews with key community leaders were still taking place. 

Mr. Jim McCrane, a resident, asked who was to be interviewed. 

Mr. Wert responded that members of this Board, the Board of Supervisors, representatives of the surrounding developments’ Home Owners Associations, officers of the various sports leagues and clubs were included in these interviews. He said that the public input would be garnered at three public meetings, beginning in July. At the July meeting the topic of concentration would be access to the Woll tract. 

Mr. Wert reported that revenue for Park and Recreation programs is up 5% over last year. He expected that number to be even higher by the end of the month. He noted that while participation in Camp Beechtree is down by 14% this year, overall participation in the camps is up by 15%. 

Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 10:00. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 6-0.

 

Respectfully submitted 

 

______________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary