NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD

MINUTES OF MEETING OF OCTOBER 4, 2006

The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, October 4, 2006, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Joel Grosso, Vice Chairman; Michael Clancy, John Davis, Kathy Kelly, and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director; Philip Calabro, Township Supervisor and Russell G. Strover, Township Naturalist.

Call to Order

Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Levine noted that page 1, paragraph 7 should read, “Neighbors have expressed some concern about use of the property for a few soccer fields for daytime use”.

Mr. Grosso moved to accept the minutes of September 6, 2006. Mr. Clancy seconded and the motion passed 6-0.

Subcommittee Reports

Park Development

Mr. Levine reported that Roberts Ridge Park of Possibilities playground is now moving quickly toward completion. The picnic area is to be completed shortly, and safety surfacing is expected to be poured in about one week. Once completed, the park will be informally opened, with a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled some time in early November. The Newtown Rotary Club has donated $5000 in plantings for the playground. The plants are from Roberts Nursery, which will be selling them at wholesale cost. This donated garden is in memory of H. Stanford Roberts, a founding member of Newtown Rotary.

Mr. Wert suggested that other service organizations might be interested in making similar donations. Mr. Wert reported that with the arrival of new pieces of equipment it is apparent how well the old equipment has held up. The dark green equipment has not faded at all, and blends in very well with new pieces. He said that work has been done by 41 volunteers from the Electricians Union locals 126 and 269, the Steelworkers Union local 19 and the Carpenters Union, contributing a total of about 500 work hours.

Mr. Levine reported that the Woll tract RFP for engineering is almost complete and ready to be advertised. One outstanding question is whether to include a skate park in the RFP. Members discussed whether to redesign to allow for a skate park, or to let the proposal move forward as is, with the understanding that a skate park could be placed on any of the other paved areas, such as the basketball courts or tennis courts.

Mr. Wert said that substituting a skate park on a basketball court would not affect engineering.

The members briefly discussed ongoing interest among residents for a skate park. It was noted that there had not been much interest in recent years, until some students attended a meeting this past spring. Members agreed that the students currently involved in planning the project should attend Park and Recreation Board meetings periodically to update the Board on their progress. Members could then suggest that the students include in their proposal some supporting evidence of ongoing interest, such as a survey or petition. Mr. Levine suggested holding a public meeting closer to the time when a decision would have to be made about the skate park equipment. Such meeting could be advertised in schools to better gauge interest among children.

Mr. Wert said that it would be reasonable to expect that the Woll tract could possibly break ground in fall of 2007, as a number of land development projects will be contributing recreational impact fees shortly. He said that there had been some confusion about when developers are expected to make these payments, but this issue has been resolved.

Open Space

Mr. Grosso asked that at a future meeting, some mapping of the existing trails be presented.

New Business

Mr. Levine said that he represents the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in a lease termination with the AARK Foundation. He asked whether Mr. Wert or the Township has been contacted by the AARK about the use of Township property.

Mr. Wert said that he has spoken briefly about using the Clark barn as a possible drop-off point, if the AARK is relocated onto a property it is considering in Hilltown. He said that he would need a formal proposal before he could bring the idea to this Board or the Board of Supervisors. He has number of questions and concerns, particularly about liability if wild animals are kept in outdoor cages, that he would need addressed.

The members discussed preparation of a list of priorities for the 2007 budget. Possible projects were briefly discussed with the aim of prioritizing them at the November meeting. Projects to be considered were:

  • The Woll tract
  • Completion of Roberts Ridge Park, including restrooms
  • Possible acquisition of the Preston house for use as a recreation/community center
  • Opening two to four soccer fields for the fall 2007 season
  • Completion of the restoring of Helen Randle ballfields
  • Upgrading the Helen Randle playground
  • Carl Sedia Park exercise stations

Mrs. Sutton suggested that in considering possible future uses for Carl Sedia Park, discussion take place with residents of Chandler Hall. These senior citizens could give valuable input into uses for the park.

Regarding restrooms for Roberts Ridge Park, Mr. Wert noted that there was $80,000 in this year’s budget earmarked for restrooms. He said that once work is completed, port-0-potties would be moved closer to the play structures.

Park and Recreation Director’s Report

Mr. Wert reported that program revenues are up 4.16%, and participation is about the same as last year. The fall brochures have been mailed and registration in programs has been steadily increasing.

Silver Lake fountain has been installed. There have been no further discussions about installing handicapped parking at the Upper Silver Lake Road trail entrance to the park. Grading at the park has made handicapped accessibility a problem.

Program Director Kathy Pawlenko has worked to create a partnership with Lockheed Martin to provide programming to employees on-site. The first program will be self-defense. If successful, other “lunch and learn” programs will be investigated. These programs will be conducted at the Lockheed Martin site, and opened to Lockheed Martin employees only.

Mr. Calabro said that it is possible that once a program has been presented, Lockheed Martin could contact instructors directly to contract for programming, and the Township would be cut out. With that in mind, he questioned whether it was worth the time and effort the staff has put into this type of programming.

Mr. Wert said that in the department’s experience, that has rarely been the case for other groups. Employers might want to provide the programming, but they do not have the personnel to organize the paperwork and collect fees, etc. The Township will provide all publicity, collect registration and book the program. All the employer has to do is provide the space. He said that he feels confident that it will be a successful venture, and that his department hopes to form similar partnerships with other large employers in the Township.

Member Comments

Mr. Levine reported that he will be reporting to the County Park and Recreation Board about a plan to hold informal discussions with the PRB’s of other nearby townships, including Wrightstown, Upper Makefield, Middletown and Northampton. Of particular interest and concern to all of these boards is playing field use.

Mr. Wert reported that he attended an open space task force meeting, at which sub-committees were formed to address the following:
  • Farm preservation
  • The County park system
  • Municipal park systems
  • Sensitive natural areas, such as swamps.

Mr. Clancy suggested that Mr. Wert’s monthly report to the Board be placed on the Web site. Each month the report contains valuable information about the department in a very neat and concise format.

Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 9:00PM. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary