PARK AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MAY 4, 2005
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Clancy noted that the approval of the minutes of May 4, 2005 should read, “with Messrs. Clancy, Levine and Davis abstaining.”
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, May 4, 2005, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Joel Grosso, Vice-Chairman; Kathy Kelly, Buck O’Neill and Susan Sutton, members. William Wert, Park and Recreation Director, was also in attendance.
Call to Order
Mr. Grosso Called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM
Approval of Minutes
Mrs. Sutton moved to accept the minutes of March 2, 2005. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
104 Pheasant Run – Sketch Plan
Mr. Don Marshall was present to discuss a sketch plan for the property at 104 Pheasant Run. Mr. Marshall explained that the existing France building and the adjoining lot have been purchased by Cameron Triolo to be developed as an office building and hotel/conference center. The property is 10.75 acres. The existing 72,895 square-foot compressor factory will be converted to 67,000 square feet of office space, with a 3300 square foot branch bank and a 2197 square foot café. A new building will be constructed on the adjoining property for a Hilton Homewood Suites Hotel with 120 rooms, conference and meeting facilities, a breakfast dining room, pool and fitness center. The new building would be five stories, and a zoning variance would be sought to allow a height of 62 feet, instead of the maximum allowable height of 50 feet. The plan calls for sidewalks along the frontages of the buildings.
The Board discussed requesting a fee in lieu of open space. Mr. Marshall said that he was not sure that any fee would be required for the renovation of the existing building. In response to Mr. Wert’s question, Mr. Marshall said that the property would have a long-term lease with a Hilton franchise owner, and so he was not able to commit to the use of any of the meeting rooms for Township recreation programs.
Mr. Grosso moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they accept a fee in lieu of open space for the project at 104 Pheasant Run. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Sub-Committees
Mr. Grosso reported that the sub-committee had presented the master plan for development of the Woll tract to the Board of Supervisors at their work session on April 25, 2005. The Supervisors did not give any indication of their feelings about the plan. They advised the sub-committee to present the plan to the Planning Commission for its input and then return to the Board of Supervisors for comment. He said that there were a few residents in attendance who continued to express concerns about the park’s location, the lights and the projected costs.
Mr. Wert reported that the Township had authorized the formation of an Environmental Advisory Council. In response to a request from the Assistant to the Township Manager, he has forwarded to the EAC members the comprehensive plan and the municipal open space plan.
Mrs. Sutton said that she had read the EAC minutes on the Township Web site and was very excited about their discussion of the environmental program GLOBE.
Mrs. Sutton reported that she and Mr. Wert had met with Sheila Jobs, Director of Council Rock Senior Center. The senior center has 1080 members, 18% from Newtown. Of the members attending regularly, 98% drive and 2% take Bucks County Transit. They offer a variety of informal activities such as bocce, pool and card games as well as classes and outings. All activities are geared toward very active senior citizens. They learned that the state of Pennsylvania sponsors one senior center in each school district. Years ago Newtown Township’s Board of Supervisors declined the opportunity to host the Council Rock Senior Center.
Mrs. Sutton said that she also visited Gloria Dei, Friends Village, and Pickering Manor. The active residents at these facilities are members of the CR Senior Center, although many only participate in the recreation programs offered in house.
At the St. Andrew’s Senior Fellowship Mrs. Sutton spoke with members, who all agreed that they prefer this weekly program, with frequent outings and bus trips, and were not interested in joining any other groups.
Mr. Wert reported that the county has been hosting a series of meetings on aging, sponsored by the Bucks County Agency on Aging. They have put together a task force to conduct a survey among senior residents. Supervisor Dick Weaver is heading the group representing Newtown at these summits. They have concentrated on larger issues of interest to senior citizens, such as taxes and transportation. Mr. Wert hopes to be invited to the final summit, which will have workshops run by experts on various topics.
Mrs. Sutton said that she thought that if there were daytime programs available to the Newtown senior residents they might attend, but she did not think that the senior citizens she spoke to were very interested in a Senior Center in Newtown.
Mr. Wert said that he has run into difficulty finding room for daytime programming. Many of the Park and Rec programs offered are housed in School District locations, which are not available during the school day. He said that if the municipal expansion takes place, rooms for Park and Rec are part of the plan. He said that the Woll tract master plan also included a meeting room, which would be available during the day for programming.
Mrs. Sutton said that the Park and Recreation brochures are currently mailed one to each address. She suggested that a number of copies should be made available to the senior housing facilities in the Township. Mr. Wert also suggested that, when the Park and Recreation Department prepares flyers for upcoming programs, copies be dropped off for the common rooms at these locations.
Mrs. Sutton said that a big problem for some of the seniors is transportation. She had heard that MTA is experimenting with a shuttle bus from the railroad to the business commons, and there is some speculation that a loop through the Township is being considered also. She was not sure if such a system would be helpful to the senior residents who no longer drive. She said that she had some conflicting information about when and where the Bucks County Transit would provide rides for seniors.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mr. Wert reported that the summer issue of the program brochure would be mailed by the end of the week. He provided copies for the Board members, and complimented Mrs. Pawlenko and Mrs. Hughes for the new look, and the expanded program offerings.
Mr. Wert reported that Park and Rec has an increase in revenue of 10.13% and a decrease in participation of 12.76%, compared to the same time last year. He noted that the programming brochures are now only published twice a year, compared to three times each year in the past. As a result the summer brochure is being delivered later than it was last year. He suspects that this might be part of the reason for the decreased participation. He is watching the pricing of the programs closely, to keep them competitive with other municipalities.
The Park and Recreation Department’s Web site, linked to the Township Web site, has been redesigned. He said that it is much easier to use, and in addition to containing all of the program information, it will now be updated when program information changes, such as when a class is full.
Mr. Wert provided the Board with a written report on the current park projects. He noted that at Chandler field the protective fencing had been installed and the water and sewer lines had been brought to the snack shed. At Helen Randle Park dugout fencing had been installed, the new storage shed has been delivered and fields 1 and 3 have been reconstructed with infield drains.
Mr. O’Neill commented that the fields have all been in excellent condition this season and complimented the public works department.
Mr. Grosso moved to adjourn at 9:00 PM. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary