PARK AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF JULY 6, 2005
Approval of Minutes: Mrs. Kelly moved to accept the minutes of May 4, 2005. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 3-0-3, with Messrs. Levine, Grosso and Davis abstaining.
Mr. Davis moved to accept the minutes of July 6, 2005. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, July 6, 2005, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Joel Grosso, Vice-Chairman; Michael Clancy, John Davis, and Kathy Kelly, members. Also in attendance were Scott Harp and Thomas Jirele, Township Supervisors and William Wert, Park and Recreation Director.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM
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.
Mr. Levine noted that there were still not enough members in attendance to vote on the May minutes and asked that this be added to the agenda for the next meeting.
Reports of Sub-Committees
Ms. Kathryn Elokdah, a recreation therapist who serves on the Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities, was in attendance to discuss the addition of a handicapped playground to the Roberts Ridge Park playground. Ms. Elokdah, Mr. Wert and Mr. Paul Grim of Boyce Associates had met at Roberts Ridge Park to evaluate the existing play structures and make recommendations for handicapped accessible play structures. Mr. Grim met with Mr. Wert earlier in the day to provide copies of his recommendations to the Board.
Mr. Levine updated the Supervisors in attendance about the discussion at previous meetings. He noted that a large portion of the cost of any handicapped accessible structure would be safety surfacing. The Board had begun researching a new substance, distributed by Zaeger Brothers of Middletown, PA, that would be far less expensive than a poured in place surface or the tiles currently in place at the little children’s section at Roberts Ridge. Ms. Elokdah expressed interest in contacting Zaeger Brothers about visiting a site with this surface installed.
Mr. Wert narrated the changes made to previous plans presented to the Board by Boyce Associates. He pointed out that this new plan retrofits the existing structure by adding a ramp to the section of the play structure nearest the existing trail, and adding seven play panels to provide activities within the structure that would be fun for able bodied children and for children with a wide variety of handicaps. The modifications also include a number of play stations at ground level. The addition of a doublewide slide would enable an adult caregiver to accompany a handicapped child down the slide. Ms. Elokdah noted that the location of the slide very near the ramp would allow the caregiver to easily help a handicapped child up and down, with any wheelchair or walker parked at the bottom of the slide.
Ms. Elokdah suggested that a picture communication system be added to the structure to help children with communication difficulties identify which events they want to play on. She also said that the ground level activity with a built-in talking device, carrying voices from one section of the play structure to another is popular with all children, and allows handicapped and able bodied children to play together. She also pointed out that the existing rope structure is very good for handicapped children, but that it would have to have a handicapped accessible surface underneath.
Mr. Wert said that Mr. Grim has not calculated the safety surface needs yet. He is waiting to learn whether the Board likes the new plan. He said that this retrofitting eliminates the need for some safety surfacing because the structure itself is handicapped accessible, and the children are taken above the wood chip surface.
Mr. Levine said that he has spoken to parents at the park and all agree that they would like more swings added. He suggested that Mr. Grim provide pricing for a bank of swings that would include handicapped accessible swings.
The Board members agreed that they like this plan and would like Mr. Grim to work out costs for the September meeting in order to present a plan to the Board of Supervisors to be included in the 2006 budget. Mr. Wert said that there could be some expense involved in leveling portions of the playground in order to accommodate the safety surfacing. He would try to ascertain costs associated with this as well as the purchase and installation of the equipment.
Mr. Levine asked Ms. Elokdah to work with him to find sources of grants for handicapped accessible playgrounds.
Mr. Clancy asked if the Council Rock School District plans for providing restrooms had been finalized yet. He expressed concern that the restrooms on the plan shown to the Board were not visible from the playground area, and that children could not use them unaccompanied.
Mr. Jirele said that the Board of Supervisors had expressed this same concern during their work session with the School District and had requested that the restrooms be located on the side of the building facing the playground. At this time, no final plan has been submitted to the Supervisors.
Board of Supervisors
Mr. Harp reported that the First Fourth celebration is this coming Saturday. He thanked the members of the Board for their participation in the planning of activities and said that volunteers are still needed throughout the day.
In response to Mr. Levine’s question, Mr. Harp said that he thought that finalizing preliminary plans for the Roberts Ridge Playground at the September meeting would provide adequate time to include the playground in the 2006 budget.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mr. Wert reported that all of the camps are full to capacity and are running smoothly. He did, however, report that there had been a lapse in communication with the School District regarding use of the school facilities. He said that at the first day of staff training at Newtown Elementary School he was informed that the gym is scheduled to be painted and would not be available for camp use for two weeks. He has spoken to Superintendent Mark Klein about this problem, and hopes that the painting can be postponed until after camp ends in August. He also asked that his staff be informed of such conflicts in advance in order to plan activities to work around the school maintenance schedule.
Mr. Wert also provided the Board with a written mid-year recreation review. He said that the recreation staff is closely watching participation trends and adapting programming accordingly, and the programming has been very successful.
Mr. Wert asked that the Board consider allocation of the use of the field behind Staples, which will become available for fall sports.
Mr. Levine said that the soccer organizations have consistently reported their field needs to the Board, whereas other sports have not made any such requests at any public meetings. For this reason he would like to see soccer given priority in use of this field. He also suggested that the Board begin to think about naming this park, rather than referring to it as “Staples Field”.
Mr. Jirele suggested that soccer organizations be given preference for prime times such as Saturday mornings and afternoons.
Mr. Wert noted that he has been approached by lacrosse organizations looking for fields. He also needs to provide fields for the Township sponsored flag football league and for Pop Warner, if and when it takes off. With the Board’s approval, he would like to allocate the new field on a season-by-season basis, which would be different from the way the Helen Randle fields have been allocated. The Board agreed to this suggestion.
Mr. Jirele reported that the Board of Supervisors had granted Preliminary Plan approval for development of a tract, mostly located in Lower Makefield, but accessed through Route 532 in Newtown. The developer has agreed to prepare a deceleration lane and driveway to access the Wiggins tract. Mr. Wert said that he would also attempt to get permission to use the parking lot at Restaurant 552 for use of the fields at the Wiggins Tract during non-business hours for the restaurant.
Mr. Levine reported that a meeting had been held with residents of communities surrounding Helen Randle Park to discuss lighting of the fields. He said that the Board of Supervisors had assured the residents at the time the park was built that it would close at dusk. He said that he did not know whether this was a deed restriction and would like to research the matter further. He said that one resident had expressed opposition to lighting of the field behind Staples, also.
Mr. Levine said that at this meeting he learned a great deal about conditions at Helen Randle Park that he had been unaware of and suggested that the Board periodically hold public meetings with residents of neighborhoods bordering the other Township parks.
Mr. Wert reported that he and Mr. Pellegrino have been addressing the concerns of one resident about conditions on the basketball courts at Helen Randle Park.
The Board agreed to cancel the August meeting.
Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 9:00PM. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary