PARK AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF AUGUST 4, 2004
Approval of Minutes: Mrs. Kelly moved to accept the minutes of August 4, 2004. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 5-0-2, with Messrs. Davis and O’Neill abstaining.
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, August 4, 2004. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Joel Grosso, Vice- Chairman, Michael Clancy, Kathy Kelly and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were Scott Harp, Township Supervisor; William Wert, Director of Park and Recreation Department, and Russell Strover, Naturalist.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:40 PM
Mrs. Nancy Crescenzo, a resident, asked to address the Board on a number of concerns she has with the Clark Nature Center. She said that she had recently visited the park and was concerned about the width of the new trails. She said she was concerned that herbicides might have been used to clear some of the underbrush, and that the removal of trees and underbrush was causing erosion of the streambed. She asked why the outdoor classroom was located in the woods, and why the grass in the meadow is mown, rather than reforested.
Mr. Wert responded that at no time have herbicides been used to clear undergrowth along the trails. He explained that over the past few years, under the direction and supervision of the Park and Recreation Department and the Park and Recreation Board, a few Eagle Scout projects have been undertaken on the trails in the park. All Eagle projects involving the clearing of undergrowth are completed with the use of simple hand tools such as rakes and shovels. The projects have been directed at clearing invasive species of rose plants and weeds, and the widening of the trail to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mr. Wert explained that the site for the outdoor classroom was chosen in an already existing open clearing within the trees, and that the width of the trail leading to it is necessary to accommodate those with disabilities. He said that only dead or hazardous trees have been removed from trails.
Regarding the erosion of the streambed, Mr. Wert reminded the Board that at the direction of the Township insurance carrier, the trail along the stream was relocated farther away from the stream to prevent accidents.
Mr. Levine suggested that Mrs. Crescenzo discuss her concerns about erosion with Mr. Strover on site. He suggested that Mr. Strover report back to the Board about Mrs. Crescenzo’s concerns.
Mrs. Crescenzo commented that the Board of Supervisors had recently approved the formation of an Environmental Advisory Council, and that this Council might have input on these matters.
Mr. Levine responded that the Council had not yet been formed and that he did not yet know whether the parks would fall within their purview.
Mrs. Crescenzo commented that she had researched the correspondence between the Township and the attorneys representing Lyman and Mary Clark at the time that their property was acquired by the Township, and she had found a draft of a letter that states that the property would be named for Lyman and Mary Clark. She said that she was not able to locate a signed letter, only the draft. She said that she would like this Board to rename the property with the names “Lyman and Mary Clark” in the title. She noted that Supervisor Goodnoe had been involved in this transaction and could confirm that this had been part of the Township’s original agreement.
Mrs. Sutton commented that she had known the Clarks and felt that they would be very pleased with the name that had been chosen, and with the uses that the Township has made of the property. She said that she thought that the executors of the Clarks’ estates would agree to the current name.
Mr. Levine said that he would contact the executors of the Clark estates and their attorneys to discuss this matter.
Mr. Levine reminded the Board that the Park Development Sub-Committee would be attending the August 16 Board of Supervisors Work Session to discuss re-allocation of budget money within the Roberts Ridge Park budget to purchase and install handicapped specific playground equipment and to reconfigure portions of the playground to be more inclusive. He said that there was some interest at the county in this project because it is the first municipally sponsored project of its kind.
Mr. Levine said that he would like to discuss conducting a survey of the Newtown residents who participate in the Council Rock Senior Center’s activities to ascertain their level of satisfaction with that program. He said that he would like to evaluate whether the Newtown Township residents who participate feel that they are being adequately served by these programs. He said that Mr. Weaver is the liaison with the Council Rock program, and so he would table this discussion until Mr. Weaver is present.
Board of Supervisors
Mr. Harp reported that the First Fourth celebration was a tremendous success and he thanked the Park and Recreation Board for their valuable contributions to the success of the day.
Mr. Harp said that he and Mr. Wert will schedule a meeting with the directors of the Rock Softball League and Newtown Little League to help plan their presentations to this Board at the October meeting.
Mr. Harp reported that he has been in discussion with the directors of the Newtown Little League about the introduction of a football program in Newtown. He said that there is a great deal of interest in starting a program, and he hopes to see a program underway in 2005.
Mr. Harp noted that an article in the Focus on Newtown section of the Bucks County Courier Times recently highlighted our Archaeological day camp at the Clark Nature Center.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mr. Wert provided the Board with a summary of the Recreation Capital Fund with year to date spending highlighted. He said that he had discussed with the Township Manager whether it might be possible to re-allocate the restroom budget from Roberts Ridge Park toward the playground. He noted that the location of the restrooms cannot be planned until the issue of parking is resolved with the School District.
Reviewing the schedule of upcoming Park and Recreation Board meetings, Mr. Wert said that the September 1 meeting will have a public discussion of the recreational facilities for the Woll Tract, and that a special meeting has been scheduled for September 29 to discuss field lighting and any other unresolved matters. He said that he has placed these meeting dates on the Township Web site, and will advertise them in the Advance and in the Focus on Newtown. He noted that the sub-committee will be presenting the four concept plans for access to the park at the August 17 Planning Commission meeting.
Mr. Levine said that after the three public meetings have been held, and after the Planning Commission has had some input on access to the park, this Board would discuss and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. He said that Ann Toole of Toole Recreation had not yet completed all of her interviews with key community leaders because she has had an accident. He said that he would be in touch before the next meeting, but that he thought that the interviews were very close to completion.
Mr. Wert reported that the Little League and Softball League had been very happy with work done on their fields this year. Drainage of fields had been greatly improved, and some safety fences separating spectators have been installed.
Bollards have been placed at Helen Randle Park to prevent vehicles from driving onto playing fields.
Bids have been awarded for the trail extensions in front of Newtown Middle School and Goodnoe Elementary School, and work will begin shortly.
Park and recreation Program Participation has increased 13% and revenue has increased 20% over last year. Camp participation has increased 34%. The introduction of after camp hours has been very successful, and with early advertising of the extended hours, Mr. Wert said that he anticipates greater participation next year.
Deer fencing has been installed behind the garage at the Clark Nature Center. Within the fencing a 4H club is growing tomatoes, flowers and pumpkins for entry in the Grange Fair and the Churchville Nature Center competition. Also within the fencing, replacement trees for Township parks will be nurtured.
Mr. Wert presented an updated plan from Boyce Associates for the handicapped accessible expansion of Roberts Ridge playground. He noted that the plans offer two options, one retrofitting the existing structure to accommodate wheelchairs, and one providing a stand-alone structure that is wheelchair accessible. He noted that in both plans, the safety surface tiles represent 60% of the cost of the expansion.
The Board discussed the two plans presented, and agreed that they would like to see additional changes. In the retrofitting plan, it was noted, the ramping is accessed at a great distance from the parking lot. The Board felt that the stand-alone structure created a feeling of separation from the main structure. The Board agreed that they would like to see the plans further changed to place handicapped ramping closer to the parking area. They also asked if the toddler playground could be placed in the location designated for the handicapped play events, and the handicapped structure placed where the toddler play events are currently located.
Mr. Wert reported that the Public Works Department had begun work on the parking lot at Silver Lake Park.
Mr. Wert reported that the fall brochure was nearing completion and would be mailed shortly. He said that past participants in the flag football program would be notified shortly of registration for the fall program.
The Board discussed whether it would be possible to ascertain the percentage of senior citizens participating in the adult programs. Mr. Wert said that most of the adult program registration is by phone, and no age is given for the participants. The Board discussed possibly asking registrants whether they are senior citizens. The Board agreed that such question should be asked as a “survey” question. This information could be of interest to the Park and Recreation Board if it were to consider offering a “senior discount” to adult program participants.
Mr. Levine reported that he had resigned from the Bucks County Park and Recreation Board after ten years of service. He said that he will miss the Board, but that the commitment of time has become a burden.
Mr. Clancy thanked the Board for their participation in the First Fourth program. He said that he had acted as chairman of the Parade Committee and felt that the entire day had been a tremendous success.
Mr. Levine asked the Board to review the minutes of July 7, 2004 carefully, and that they would be voted at the September meeting.
Mrs. Kelly moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed5-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary