NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD

MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING OF APRIL 25, 2007

The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, April 25, 2007, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Joel Grosso, Vice-Chairman; John Davis, Kathy Kelly, Buck O’Neill and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director, Russell Strover, Township Naturalist, and Philip Calabro, Township Supervisor.

Call to Order

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

Zoning of Park Properties

Mr. Levine said that he wanted to hold this special meeting in order to begin consideration of the zoning of the Woll tract, and possibly the Wiggins tract. A large portion of the Woll tract is zoned POS, Park and Open Space. Ten acres of the Woll tract and the Wiggins tract are zoned CM, Conservation Management. Under POS zoning the maximum allowable impervious surface ratio is 8%; under CM zoning the maximum impervious surface permitted is 15%. This might not be enough impervious surface to accommodate active recreation, which would entail trails, parking areas and paved surfaces for tennis/basketball courts. If artificial turf is used on any playing field, that is also considered impervious.

Mr. Levine outlined ways to increase allowable impervious surface:

  • Seek waivers or variances from the Zoning Hearing Board
  • Change zoning to MS, municipal services
  • Add a new zoning category, POS 2, active recreation.

Mr. Levine explained that he has asked the Township Solicitor about rezoning to MS, Municipal Services. That zoning district allows 60% impervious surface, and athletic fields is a permitted use in MS zoning. Because we are in a jointure, each of the three municipalities’ planning commissions and boards of supervisors would have to review any added zoning category or change in zoning. The process could take a few months, so he suggested that the Board begin to examine all of the possible ways to address the permitted impervious surface.

Mr. Levine said that although the use of artificial turf involves an underground stormwater management system, it is still regarded as impervious, as are most porous paving materials. He has asked the sales representatives for the artificial turf to prepare information on stormwater management and also a cost comparison. The initial cost of artificial turf is very high, but it appears that over the life of the turf it becomes more comparable to grass fields, since maintenance is not as intensive.

Mr. Davis noted that the artificial turf can be used continuously, while grass fields need to remain unused for periods of time in order for the grass to continue to grow. He suggested preparing a comparison of the two surfaces not just for outlay of money, but also per use costs, or a comparison of the number of fields that would be needed to equal the continuous hours of use of the artificial fields.

Mr. Wert briefly discussed the zoning of other Township owned parks and open space, but the Board agreed that initially only the Woll tract should be reviewed. Wiggins is not being used right now, but the Comprehensive Plan anticipates active recreation, so inclusion of Wiggins in a new POS-2 zoning district should be evaluated.

SKATE PARK LOCATIONS

In preparation for the next regular meeting, Mr. Levine asked the Board to consider possible locations for a skate park. Each location was listed and members discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each location.

Woll Tract

PLUS
MINUS

Available space

Not available for three years

Creates inclusive environment with children in other sports

Out of the way location/must drive

Park still in planning stages

Difficult to supervise/not visible from street

Easily converted to other use if unsuccessful

Silver Lake

Good Regional location

Detracts from appearance as gateway to Newtown

No residential neighbors to be disturbed

Roberts Ridge

Available space

Designated for passive recreation

Accessible to much of population on foot

Not pleasant aesthetics

Possible unwelcome interaction with toddlers

Because of topography expensive construction costs

Carl Sedia Park

Accessible on foot from schools/town

Possible opposition of neighbors

Flat area for easy construction

Dangerous drop to creek

Existing parking/restrooms

Already committed to Chandler Hall residents for future development for seniors

Library tract

Convenient location to elementary schools/Woll tract

Limited development potential/complex site to develop

Visible from street

No parking

Duplicating efforts of Woll

Municipal Complex

Near public safety

No room until land acquisition completed

Close to Park and Rec staff/easily supervised

No timeline for completion of municipal expansion

Helen Randle Park

Existing pad using one basketball court

Out of the way location/ must drive

Existing parking/restroom

Takes away existing basketball court which is frequently used

Easily disassembled and returned to basketball if unsuccessful

Size less than half what had been requested in design

No residential neighbors

Can easily ascertain public interest/use of skate park facility for possible move to larger space at Woll in future

Creates inclusive environment for children in other sports

Field behind Staples (No name field)

Available parking

Takes away Township’s only soccer field

Accessible on foot from schools/town

Open Space belongs to shopping center/ only field is Township owned

Close to stores/food

Need to get permission from shopping center to expand uses

The Board discussed reasons for immediate action on the skate park. Mr. Wert noted that skate park has been in the budget for a number of years, but has never been acted on.

Mr. Levine said that recently more children have come forward asking and willing to volunteer their time on the project. The Supervisors have indicated willingness to consider a skate park, and with the Woll tract in the engineering phase, it is a good time to decide whether a skate park is a good idea, and if so, what would be the best location.

Mr. Wert said that he has recently discussed skate parks with Debbie Lemanna of Middletown Township. Ms. Lemanna is considering expanding the skate park in Middletown. Lower Makefield is also considering a skate park. He said that considering a regional approach to building a skate park, to be used by the three communities, might be worth investigating. Silver Lake Park is at a good location for easy access to the other two municipalities. Mr. Wert also discussed staffing of a skate park with Ms. Lemanna. Our insurance carrier recommends staffing, but does not require it. Ms. Lemanna indicated that the attendant on duty in Middletown has been extremely helpful when skaters are injured.

Little League

Mr. Wert said that the Little League would be on the May agenda to discuss bringing a second batting cage to Chandler Field and purchasing a storage shed.

Mrs. Kelly moved to adjourn at 8:45 PM. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary