PARK AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF JANUARY 5, 2005
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Levine asked that the minutes of January 5, 2005, page 3, paragraph 2 read, “…the property of St. Andrew’s Briar Homeowners Association”.
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, January 5, 2005, 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 Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were: William Wert, Park and Recreation Director and Scott Harp, Township Supervisor.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM
Mr. Davis nominated Mr. Levine to serve as Chairman. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Clancy nominated Mr. Grosso to serve as Vice-Chairman. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Woll Tract Master Plan
Mr. Evan Stone of Pickering Corts and Sommerson was in attendance to present a draft of the master plan for development of the Woll tract for active recreation.
Mr. Stone said that he had worked with the Active Recreation Sub-Committee to put together a master plan that would include all of the playing fields and amenities that had been requested in a design that would be aesthetically pleasing and would include plantings and trees to separate the fields from the passive recreation areas.
Mr. Stone provided copies of the plan to the Board and to the public, noting the plan included:
§ 3 ball fields: 1 softball, 1 Little League and 1 Babe Ruth, all with lights
§ 3 multipurpose rectangular fields, 1 with lights
§ 2 basketball courts
§ 2 tennis courts
§ 1 playground structure
§ A building to house restrooms, a community meeting room, storage and snack bar
§ Walking trails
§ Landscaping and buffering
Mr. Stone pointed out that the primary access would be through Route 413, with secondary access on Wrights Road. A walking trail through the passive area connects the park to the Newtown Walking Trail at Eagle Road. There are three stormwater management basins at the lower levels of the park, all planned for aquifer recharge.
Parking has been planned in a “U” shape around the Route 413 entrance, with secondary parking along the Wrights Road connector, which can be phased in. There is room for additional parking on hard turf along the Wrights Road entrance road if needed. The plan shows 236 parking spaces, with 100 spaces held in reserve. Newtown Zoning requires 1 parking space per 5 users.
Mr. Stone said that he has attempted to locate the lighted fields closer to the Route 413 side of the park and away from the residential neighbors. The poles would be between 60 and 80 feet tall, and the lighting required would have a brightness of 1/10 of 1 foot candle at the property line of the nearest residential neighbors. The “total control lighting” being considered would not flood onto the neighboring properties, however when looking toward the park, the neighbors will see the lighted playing fields. The terracing of the park and the buffering planned should also help to screen the neighbors from the lights.
Mr. Stone explained that the lighting poles are made of galvanized steel and cannot be disguised. He said that the parking area poles would be 16 feet high. Every attempt would be made to plant trees that would grow taller and eventually shield the sight of the poles from the residential neighbors.
The landscaping plan would include planting of buffering evergreens and deciduous trees along borders with neighbors as well as between playing field areas. No trees are to be removed except possibly along Route 413 if necessary to create a deceleration lane.
The pavilion as shown is 80 by 120 feet, and should be large enough to house all of the activities that the Board has requested. There are some prefabricated buildings available for park pavilions.
Mr. Levine pointed out that the entrance on Wrights Road has been changed from the original discussions, and is now closer to Route 413, and does not share the Newtown Elementary entrance.
In response to questions from the public, Mr. Levine said that the existing fields along Wrights Road belong to the School District, and are not to be incorporated in this plan, nor would the Township be involved in refurbishing them.
Resident Jim McCrane questioned the height of existing and planned buffer trees.
The Board discussed the distance from the light poles to the nearest residential properties, the height of existing trees, and the possibility that healthy trees would reach a height of 80 feet or more. Mr. McCrane expressed concern that buffering would not be adequate to shield residents from the sight of the light poles.
Mr. Levine said that at this time no costs have been calculated for this park. He explained that the master plan is the first phase of planning, and costs could now begin to be calculated. Upper Makefield Township is involved in a park project, and that could serve a guideline.
Mr. McCrane said that he and his neighbors are still very concerned about the lights and the noise coming from the park during the evenings. He asked about the existing retention basin next to the planned passive recreation area.
Mr. Stone said that the retention basin would remain the property of the Pheasant Point Homeowners Association.
Mr. David Felker of Council Rock Little League/Babe Ruth League asked about the location of the pavilion and about the winery’s possible use of the parking lots.
Mr. Levine said that he did not know about whether the parking would be convenient and accessible to winery customers. Mr. Clancy said that the pavilion had been located centrally, and near the playground so that it is convenient to all and does not interfere with field drainage.
(Following this meeting, the Zoning Hearing Board granted the winery variances with the condition that there be no off-site or on-street parking)
Mr. Steve Popescu of Upper Makefield/Newtown Soccer expressed concern that there have been three ball fields with lights planned but only one lighted soccer field. He noted that three soccer clubs would be asking for use of this field.
Mr. Clancy responded that Little League, Babe Ruth League and girls’ softball each require a different size field. The Board discussed the possibility of lighting the rectangular field behind Staples, which will be available for play in the fall of 2005. Mr. Levine suggested that the soccer organizations discuss this possibility with the Tyler Walk Homeowners Association. He reminded the Board that the Tyler Walk Homeowners Association had strong objections to the lighting at the Acme shopping center.
Mr. Joseph Garvey of Newtown Rock Girls Softball and Mr. Felker asked about the timeline for the project, and about the sports organizations’ obligation to pay for field lighting.
Mr. Levine said that there is currently no funding for this park in the budget. He said that the Board has always said that the expense of lighting would be the responsibility of the sports organizations. Wiring to the fields would be part of the construction.
Mr. McCrane again expressed concern about the noise.
Mr. Levine said that when the park is open, rules would be established for use of the park, but that this would not be part of the master-planning phase. He said that the Board is very aware that this is an issue of great concern to the surrounding neighbors.
The Board discussed the possibility of using temporary lights for soccer practice and the scheduling of the fields that do have lights. Mr. Wert expressed some concern about scheduling the use of lighted fields among organizations that have contributed private funding for lights on publicly owned fields.
Mr. McCrane said that he had attended meetings at which the Board of Supervisors had assured residents that the Woll Tract would be the only Township park that would have lighted fields, and that Helen Randle and Chandler fields would never have lights.
Mr. Levine and Mr. Harp both said that they would reserve comment until they have had an opportunity to check the record, however both said that it had been their understanding that the sports organizations had withdrawn their requests for lighting until the plans for the Woll tract had been completed.
The Board agreed that they would continue to explore ways to provide some lighted fields, but that they are faced with the difficult problem of residents involved with sports wanting lights and residents not wanting lights near their homes.
Mr. Levine suggested that the discussion of the plan be tabled until the next meeting to allow the community to review it. He asked Mr. Wert to post the draft on the Township Web site. The timetable for this project would then be to present the draft master plan to the Planning Commission for their comments in order to have a comprehensive proposal, which would include a budget, to be presented to the Board of Supervisors by July. The proposed budget would include dugouts and bleachers, and both the construction and maintenance of the park. The proposed budget would be itemized to help plan for the phasing in of the park.
Mr. Clancy said that once a budget had been established, he could pursue grants available through the State and through various sports organizations.
Mr. Levine asked that Mr. Popescu present his organization’s field needs and requests at the March meeting, and that he be in touch with Mr. Wert to help prepare a written wish list as the baseball/softball organizations do.
Board of Supervisors
Mr. Harp reported that at the last meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Mr. Grosso and Mr. Davis were re-appointed to the Park and Recreation Board.
Mr. Harp reported that he had invited Judge Durkin of Pottstown to meet with members of the Park and Recreation Board and representatives of the various sports organizations to share his experience and knowledge in organizing a Pop Warner Football league. Mr. Harp said that while football would not be sponsored by the Township, the Township would lend support to help facilitate the start-up, and to continue to support the organization as it does with the baseball and soccer organizations.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mr. Wert provided the Board with a list of Park and Recreation Department Statistics for 2004, noting that revenue had increased 11%, participation had increased 3% and there was a 16% increase in number of programs offered. The department is 83.4% self sufficient, with a net cost to taxpayers of $3.71 per resident. He noted that the summer camps had been extremely successful, with a 33% increase in participation.
Mr. Levine said that Mrs. Kelly and Mrs. Hibbs have agreed to work with the senior sub-committee to investigate interest in senior programming here and at the Council Rock Senior Center. Mr. Levine asked that they be included on the April agenda.
Mr. Felker announced that Rock Softball, Newtown Babe Ruth and Little League would be co-sponsoring a Monte Carlo night fundraiser on April 1, 2005 at the Newtown Athletic Club.
Mr. Garvey announced that the Rock Softball would be hosting a tournament on April 9, 2005.
Mr. Grosso moved to adjourn at 9:45 PM. Mr. Clancy seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary