PARK AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 2, 2005
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of November 2, 2005. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, November 2, 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 Russell G. Strover, Naturalist.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM
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.”
Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of September 7,2005 as amended. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Levine reported that he had recently attended a meeting at which he got into conversation with a member of the Middletown Park and Recreation Board. They discussed how the municipalities in the area are all working toward similar goals and perhaps it would be beneficial to have a joint meeting of Park and Recreation Boards to better evaluate where projects overlap or duplicate. Much could be gained by sharing of research and information with the surrounding communities.
Mr. Wert said that Evan Stone, who had been working on the Woll tract design, has been working with Upper Makefield and Northampton on some of their park projects, and he had recently sent a letter to the Park and Recreation directors of the municipalities in Council Rock School District proposing a similar meeting. He noted that DCNR has grants available for parks, and is particularly interested in working with regions that are planning joint projects.
Mr. Levine said that he would like to propose a meeting, not to discuss park planning, but recreation programming. He also thought that the School District might not need to be involved in recreation planning. He suggested not including the School District in a meeting of the Recreation Boards at this early, informal stage of discussion.
Reports of Sub-Committees
Mr. Levine reported that the money for the Roberts Ridge Park of Possibilities is in the bank, and equipment is to be delivered in early spring. Because the safety surfacing must be installed when the weather is warmer, it was decided to postpone construction until after the winter.
Mr. Wert reported that the unnamed field behind Staples is being used by St. Andrew’s CYO Soccer and Upper Makefield/Newtown Soccer. All of the local sports organizations had been notified when the field became available, and these two organizations requested use. Upper Makefield/Newtown Soccer has applied for a permit for temporary lighting on the field. Mr. Wert, Mr. Jirele and Mr. Pellegrino will work with any concerned residents before a permit is issued. This is for lighting for only a few weeks, and only for early evening, to extend practice time.
Mr. Levine reported that the Planning Commission has again canceled a meeting at which the Woll Tract plans were to have been reviewed. He hopes to appear at the Planning Commission on November 15 and then to present the plans to the Board of Supervisors on November 16 for approval of the master plan. Because this review request had been sent to the Planning Commission such a long time ago, he hopes that their comments will be concise and well thought out. Once the plan has been approved, the various sports organizations can begin applying for field grants. He said that he believes engineering for the park is in the 2006 budget. He asked for support from the Board at the Planning Commission meeting and at the Board of Supervisors meeting.
The Board began to discuss a preliminary list of goals and objectives for 2006. This list includes a grant for a forest management study for the Clark Nature Center; development of the Wiggins Tract for temporary use as a playing field; continued work on the Park of Possibilities at Roberts Ridge and continued work on the trail system.
Mr. Wert said that he had recently attended a trail seminar, at which a statewide hike/bike system was discussed. DCNR is interested in seeing each county develop a greenway plan. Bucks County has not yet participated in this plan. He said that he had attempted to discuss joining the open space of the proposed development on the Goodnoe tract with existing open space in the Township to create a continuous greenway from Tyler Park, through Helen Randle Park, Clark Nature Center, the Woll Tract, the Goodnoe Tract, Hidden Lake, Wiggins tract and Silver Lake. There was some resistance from some of the Supervisors. He is working with the technology department to map out the existing system of trails and sidewalks.
Mr. Levine suggested that the Board continue its discussion of priorities at the December meeting.
Mr. Wert said that he had a preliminary budget for Park and Recreation for 2006. He briefly reviewed some of the allocations, which he based on discussions at the September meeting.
Mr. Clancy expressed disappointment that more money was not budgeted for development of the Woll tract. He noted that the engineering is really money unused in 2005, and there are no additional allocations. The Board had agreed that its 2005 and 2006 top priority was development of the Woll tract.
Mr. Grosso agreed that the budget does not really reflect the Board’s priorities.
Mr. Levine said that because the master plan has not yet been approved, additional funding cannot be requested. He also noted that funds for the Clark Nature Center are badly needed to maintain the property, in particular the rhododendron garden. He said that fencing of the rhododendrons should protect them from deer. These are rare and valuable specimens.
Mr. Strover and Mr. Wert agreed that the fencing is very sorely needed, as the deer population is destroying the plants. They also pointed out the importance of preserving those portions of the property in good condition while investigating ways to improve areas that have been damaged.
Mr. Wert said that funds tentatively allocated to Helen Randle Park are carried over from last year for ongoing work for drainage of the fields.
Mr. Grosso and Mr. Levine both said that discussion of priorities should take place earlier in the year, so that clear guidance can be given to Mr. Wert as the budget is being discussed. Mr. Grosso asked that when Mr. Levine reports to the Board of Supervisors, he should stress that many of next year’s budget allocations are carried over from unfinished projects from this year.
Mr. Wert said that he has discussed a forest management project with Evan Stone, who suggested that the project take a three-pronged approach:
Mr. Stone should be able to give some cost estimates for such a project.
Mrs. Sutton reported that there has been no follow-up on the part of participants in a senior summit held by the County last May.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mr. Wert reported that there has been an increase in revenue of 9% over last year, and a slight decrease in participation. The department has offered 331 programs, an increase of 50% over last year. The drop in participation is across all programs, not in one area in particular. The drop is slight, and although the department is attempting to evaluate the reason for the drop, it is not evident that any one factor has contributed. The summer camp attendance has increased dramatically this year. The department is 91% self-sufficient.
A video of the Little League parade has been completed and will begin airing on Channel 23 shortly.
Mr. Wert reported that the Woods of Saxony Homeowners Association has donated its soccer nets to the Park and Recreation Department for use at the unnamed field behind Staples.
The Board discussed possibly appearing on the “Let’s Talk” television show on Channel 23 to give a detailed presentation of plans for the Woll Tract.
Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 9:15PM. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed unanimously.