PARK AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF OCTOBER 6, 2004
Approval of Minutes: Mrs. Kelly moved to accept the minutes of October 6, 2004. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 6-0-1, with Mr. Clancy abstaining.
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, October 6, 2004, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Joel Grosso, Vice-Chairman; John Davis, Kathy Kelly, Buck O’Neill and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were Allen Fidler, Planning Commission Liaison; Russell G. Strover, Naturalist and Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM.
Newtown Little League Field Needs
Mr. David Falker was present to discuss the field needs of Newtown Little League and Babe Ruth League. He provided a written list for the Board’s consideration, which included:
In discussion of the wish list, Mr. Levine noted that it would be necessary to assign priorities and costs associated with the items.
Mr. Wert explained that because of some insurance requirements, the Township is beginning to investigate the replacement or retrofitting of the old aluminum bleachers with fencing. He said that the new bleachers are very expensive, and the Township is currently evaluating the replacement costs. In response to Mr. Falker’s request that discarded bleachers be sold to either the League for use at Pickering Field or to St. Andrew’s Soccer Association, Mr. Wert said that the Township might first look into selling the bleachers as scrap aluminum.
Mr. Falker said that in addition to the replacement of existing bleachers, the League would like four additional bleachers, two at Helen Randle Park and two at Chandler Fields. He said that the League would like to have spectators on each side of each field. He noted that it is particularly important to separate the spectators during tournament play.
Mr. Davis asked if Mr. Wert and Mr. Falker could prepare a chart that would show where existing bleachers are located, where existing bleachers are to be replaced, and where additional bleachers are required. He said that it would help the Board better evaluate what the more immediate needs might be.
Mr. Wert said that when the restrooms at Chandler Park are winterized, the League could use them for storage. He said that Mr. Crossland, head of the Public Works Department, would be in touch with Mr. Falker when this work is completed. He also confirmed that work would be completed to bring a water line to the Chandler snack shed.
Mr. Wert said that the outfields at Chandler and Helen Randle Parks have been reseeded and fertilized this past week. He explained that the repair to the 90-foot field at Helen Randle Park is a very expensive project that would have to be bid out.
Mr. Falker also asked if it would be possible to purchase and install signs for all fields prohibiting dogs or requiring that dogs be on leashes, and if they could put up a sign at Chandler Park recognizing it as home of the 11 year old state champions.
Mr. Fidler suggested that no permit would be required for “temporary, seasonal signs.”
The Board agreed that it would be necessary for Mr. Falker to present his list again, with priorities enumerated, and with costs associated with each item noted, and the Board would then make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Wert agreed to help Mr. Falker with some cost estimates, and would provide information about insurance requirements for the bleachers.
Newtown Rock Softball Field Needs
Mr. Joseph Garvey and Mr. Pat Cawley were present to discuss field requirements for Newtown Rock Softball fields. Mr. Garvey provided a written list, which included:
Mr. Wert said that fields 1 and 3 would be rebuilt as part of the 2004 budget. Work should commence shortly.
The Board discussed the fencing of the outfields at Helen Randle Park. Mr. Wert noted that areas in the outfield are used for sports played on rectangular fields, including soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. He said that there is some overlap of seasons, especially since Rock Softball has introduced fall ball.
Mr. Garvey asked that the softball fields be restricted to use by girls softball, at least during the spring/summer season. The Board agreed to consider this request again after the Staples field becomes usable.
Mr. Levine asked if the girls softball representatives would relinquish a claim for lighted fields at the Woll tract if lighting were installed at Helen Randle Park.
Mr. Cawley said that he believed that the Little League representatives would work with girls softball to provide an additional field at Helen Randle Park in exchange for a lighted softball field at the Woll Tract. Mr. Garvey said that he thought that there would not be an outcry from neighbors to Helen Randle Park if lights were installed because the sky was already flooded with spillage from Bucks County Community College and the field that would be lighted is farther away from residential areas. He also noted that in summer, there is a buffer of tall trees.
Mr. Levine suggested the Girls Softball meet with representatives of the Tyler Walk Homeowners Association to determine if there would be strong opposition to lighting on the Helen Randle field.
Mr. Cawley and Mr. Garvey agreed that the girls would not need a lighted field at the Woll tract if there were one at Helen Randle Park.
Mr. Falker confirmed that the Little League would be willing to give up their field at Helen Randle Park if the girls did not take a lighted field at the Woll Tract.
Mr. Levine reminded the Board that this evening’s agenda did not include discussion of lighting at the Woll tract. He asked Mr. Garvey if Rock Softball would be willing to contribute toward the cost of lighting at Helen Randle Park.
Mr. Garvey said that if permission for lighting were given, his organization would begin a fundraising effort to contribute to the cost.
Mr. Fidler advised that there are some lighting requirements in the ordinance for using the park after dark. Mr. Levine said that he had also begun researching our ordinance and other municipalities’ ordinances on sports lighting, to determine what is permitted, what is prohibited and what is required if lighting is permitted.
Mr. Garvey asked the Board for permission to light the batting cage at Helen Randle Park. He said that he would not be installing lights on poles, but attaching lights to the fence around the cage to extend the time that the cage can be used safely as darkness approaches.
Mr. Levine said that he thought that this request should be addressed by the code enforcement officer.
Mr. Wert explained that Helen Randle Park is opened from dawn to dusk each day. He said that there are no set hours for the park, but it can only be used during daylight hours. He pointed out that there are no lights along trails or in parking areas. He said that he did not think that lighting would be permitted at the batting cage because the rest of the park is dark.
Mr. Garvey said that he would only like to light the batting cage to gain a little additional use of the cage at dusk, but that use would cease at dark.
Mr. Fidler suggested that the Board first needed to ascertain whether the park could remain open at all after dusk, before any decision about lighting could be made. He said that if a park is open after dark, it is not just the fields that are lighted, but the trails and parking areas as well.
Mr. Levine asked Mr. Garvey and Mr. Cawley to provide the Board with a wish list that included priorities and costs.
Mr. Garvey said that he would also like the Township to maintain the fields with the new machine through the fall. He said that the machine grooms the infield and when used regularly makes the fields beautiful. He said that the fields have become very hard as the clay dries after rain. He said that the girls cannot be taught to slide because of the hardness, and there have been a number of injuries.
Mr. Wert said that the machine is being repaired right now. He noted that at the end of summer the public works department loses its seasonal employees and that there is not sufficient manpower to groom the fields as regularly and thoroughly as in the summer. He said that he had been grooming the fields himself until the machine had become damaged.
Mr. Garvey said that if manpower were an issue, he would volunteer to be trained to use the machine. He suggested that many parent volunteers would be willing to help.
Mr. Wert said that he did not think that the Township’s liability carrier would permit non-employees to use the equipment. The Board agreed to look into whether this would be possible, or if a sub-contractor could be employed to run the machine.
Mr. Cawley asked that the Board treat boys and girls equally. He said that he would like the Board to recommend equal spending for boys and girls sports.
Mr. Levine agreed that the Board would work toward equitable treatment of boys and girls, however he said again that detailed wish lists with priorities and costs must be submitted before this Board could make any recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. He said that Mr. Wert would be available to help ascertain costs and insurance requirements.
General Public Comment
Resident Nancy Crescenzo commented that she agreed that boys and girls sports should be treated equally, however she said that she thought that the Board should concentrate more effort on establishing a community center to meet the needs of non-athletic children, teens and senior citizens. She asked if such projects as the skate park and the playground for handicapped children had been dropped. She said that she thought that taxes would have to be raised to fund the various park projects that the Board has been involved with. She suggested that the Board look into projects for which grants are available.
Mr. Levine said that the Board works toward planning for park and recreation projects, and makes recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. He said that this Board had presented plans for a skate park, however the Board of Supervisors has not yet followed up on this recommendation. Regarding the plans for the handicapped specific playground, Mr. Levine said that this Board had asked Boyce Associates to modify the plans that had been submitted, and they have not yet been returned for review.
Mr. Fidler said that the capital Planning Committee had recently met to discuss a five-year plan for expenditures, and to look at funding options for the expansion of the municipal complex and development of the Woll Tract. He said that there was some discussion of waiting until the Wiggins tract debt is extinguished in 2006/07 before entering into any new debt.
Mr. Fidler reported that the Planning Commission had heard a proposal from K. Hovnanian for development of property at Rte 532 and the By-pass for 45 age restricted single-family homes. He said that the Commission was very concerned about access to Rte 532 so close to the intersection with the By-pass. He said they also heard a proposal from Joan Tardy for a café on Sycamore Street and from Toll Brothers for a PRD variance for decks at the Overlook development.
Mr. Fidler said that the Planning Commission had learned that PennDoT would not approve pedestrian activated flashing lights on state roads. He said that flashing lights at pedestrian crossings would remain on at all times.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mr. Wert reported that the current revenue is up 11% over the entire 2003 revenue. He expects that percentage to increase as winter programming gets underway. He prepared some figures on participant demographics, noting that 52% of participants are under age 15, and that the average age for adult participants is 42. He said that of those participants providing a birth date, 4% are 55 or older. He said that adult participants of many programs do not provide age information.
Mr. Wert reported that trails at frost Lane and at Richboro Road have been completed.
Mr. Wert said that two students at Bucks County Community College and their professor are cleaning and cataloging the findings from the archeological digs at Clark Nature Center. The students will earn course credit for their work. He also said that an Eagle Scout project is being researched for Clark Nature Center to build a bird blind.
Mr. Levine noted that the Board would hold a meeting on November 9, 2004, to discuss their recommendations to Pickering Corts and Summerson for the Woll tract and to discuss budget priorities for 2005.
Mr. Grosso moved to adjourn at 10:15 PM. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary