PARK AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF JUNE 1, 2005
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of June 1, 2005. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Grosso abstaining.
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, June 1, 2005, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Michael Clancy, John Davis, Kathy Kelly, and Buck O’Neill, members. William Wert, Park and Recreation Director, and Russell G. Strover, Township Naturalist were also in attendance.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM
Reports of Sub-Committees
Mr. Paul Grimm of Boyce Associates was in attendance to review draft plans for handicapped accessible playground equipment for Roberts Ridge Park.
Mr. Levine provided the Board with copies of “Field Performance Testing of Improved Engineered Wood Fiber Surfaces for Accessible Playground Areas”. He said that the biggest cost to building a playground, and especially a handicapped accessible playground, is safety surfacing. He asked that Mr. Grimm, and the Board, review this report. He said that he had done a little research into some of these new products and they seem to offer considerable savings.
Mr. Levine said that he has also contacted Easter Seals and The March of Dimes to ask their help and guidance in selecting a plan for the handicapped accessible playground. He has invited Ms. Kathryn Elokdah, a recreation therapist who serves on the Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities, to join the meeting.
Mr. Grimm provided copies of three plans for the playground, two involving new structures and one retrofitting the existing structure with ramps. He said that in trying to adapt the existing structure he has incorporated some play panels. He said that ramping the existing structure would enable wheelchair bound children to go up into the play structure, but once they get inside there has to be something for them to do. He also pointed out a number of play events that could be placed at ground level. These panels and playhouse structures do not require any safety surfaces because they do not have fall zones.
Mr. Clancy expressed concern that a ground level play area for handicapped children would not address the issue of inclusion. He said that he would prefer to see some retrofitting of the existing equipment.
Mr. Levine said that in his conversations with the experts at Easter Seals and the March of Dimes, he learned that inclusion does not always provide fun for the handicapped children. He said that he would like to work toward finding a balance of inclusion and handicapped specific fun events.
Mr. Wert asked that Mr. Grimm also consult with Bonnie Parsons, the Newtown Elementary School teacher who works with the handicapped children in Council Rock School District.
Mr. Grimm said that a new, fully inclusive, playground has recently been installed in Downingtown, in Chester County. He suggested that the Board look to this structure for examples of play events that are fun for all children. This playground was built for $118,000, using the U.S. Communities program.
Ms. Elokdah reviewed the three proposed plans briefly and commented that handicapped children enjoy the same types of motion events as any children, and were not afraid of falling. She said that including events like swings would be a good idea. She noted that when planning events that would take the wheelchair bound children inside a structure, or up a ramp, it is important to consider how the caregiver would best maneuver the chair back out of the structure. She suggested including Ann Doloff, the accessibility coordinator for the American Camping Association, in planning. Ms. Doloff had recently been involved in designing a playground at the Variety Club camp in Montgomery County.
Mr. Wert suggested getting together with Mr. Grimm, Ms. Elokdah, and Mr. Clancy to visit the Roberts Ridge playground again.
Mr. Levine suggested that Mr. Grimm attempt to provide some preliminary designs and pricing for the July meeting. He said that the Board would like to be able to recommend a plan and budget in October to be included in next year’s budget.
Mr. Wert reported that in response to suggestions made by the Board last month, the Park and Recreation Department had prepared flyers highlighting their adult program offerings. These flyers were distributed among the residents at Pickering Manor, Friends Village, Gloria Dei, Chandler Hall and Pennswood Village.
Ms. Elokdah suggested listing the adult programs that are handicapped accessible on the Pennsylvania Department of Health Web site. She said that this site provides programming information for people with special needs.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mr. Wert reported that there has been an increase of 15.57% in revenue and a decrease in participation of 2.45% in Park and Recreation programming. The summer camps are all full, and there has been an increase in participation at all of the camps, and in the extended care program at Camp Newtown.
In the parks, Mr. Wert reported that an Eagle Scout project to create a butterfly garden at Clark Nature Center is nearing completion, and fencing has been installed at the Staples Field.
Mr. Wert reported that at the May 23 Board of Supervisors meeting there was some discussion about possibly lighting fields at Helen Randle Park and the Staples field. He said that Supervisor Jirele would coordinate meetings with the residents of the adjacent neighborhoods. He said that if lighting is added to these fields, this could reduce the number of lighted fields needed at the Woll tract.
Mr. Wert reported that Mr. Pellegrino has been looking into using the Wiggins tract for soccer. He said that the fields are in very good condition and with the help of the soccer leagues could be lined for playing very inexpensively and very quickly. There is a path from the Stonehouse parking lot to the field area. Permission to use the lot when the restaurant is not open for business would be needed.
Mr. Wert reported that the Council Rock School District has presented a conceptual plan for expansion of the Sloan School. The School District is interested in working out an agreement with the Township to provide public restrooms and access to an all-purpose meeting room for recreation programming in exchange for some additional parking. He said that he understood that the School District might be asking for some zoning changes.
Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary