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:
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.
Carl Sedia Park
Helen Randle Park
Field behind Staples (No name field)
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.
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.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary