PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF AUGUST 1, 2007
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, August 1, 2007, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Michael Clancy, Buck O’Neill and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director, and Russell G. Strover, Township Naturalist.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:00PM
Approval of Minutes
As there was not a quorum of attendees of the June 6, 2007 meeting, approval of those minutes was tabled.
Clark Nature Center
Mr. Wert reported that the Heritage Conservancy has completed a draft map of the Clark Nature Center using an aerial photograph taken in April of 2005. He pointed out that the bright green area of the map is lesser celedine, an invasive species. This invasive species has continued to grow. A forester has been on site a number of times and will return. A conservation biologist is currently capturing data. Mr. Wert said that he has urged the Heritage Conservancy to identify some specific projects in order to meet budgeting deadlines for 2008. He has been assured that after payment of approximately $8500 to the Heritage Conservancy, any remaining funds from the $12,000 grant from the Tree-Vitalize grant from Growing Greener, as administered by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society can be used to implement recommendations for forest management.
Heritage Conservancy will break their recommendations into “units” to be addressed with certain management tools. The lesser celedine invasive species will be identified as a unit. Stormwater calculations will include current calculations as well as the positive impact on the Clark Nature Center of the improvements planned for the Woll tract.
Mr. Wert indicated that planned fencing around the rhododendrons would wait until after the Heritage Conservancy’s evaluation and plan have been completed. Mr. Strover noted that all of the growth on the rhododendrons is now above five feet, and is not in deer grazing area. The biggest concern right now in that area is invasive plants on the floor of the forest.
Mr. Levine reported that he gave a presentation at the July 17, 2007 Planning Commission meeting on possible locations for a skate park. The Planning Commission was supportive of locating the park at Helen Randle Park, but suggested investigating feasibility of locating the park at Roberts Ridge. This would involve interfacing with Roberts Ridge area residents.
American Ramp Company provided a demonstration of skate park equipment on Saturday, July 28, 2007 at the Newtown Athletic Club parking lot. Despite extreme heat, and very short notice, there was a large turnout of children and teens, and the equipment was open for use for about three hours. Sixty-seven participants filed waivers, 25% from Newtown. Everyone was well behaved; there were no injuries. Mr. Levine noted that he observed a great deal of cooperation among the children. American Ramp offers skate park packages as low as$65,000. These are made of steel and require repainting every few years for aesthetic reasons, but are otherwise very low maintenance.
Roberts Ridge Park
Mr. Levine reported that a ribbon cutting was held at Roberts Ridge Park on Saturday, July 28, 2007. Among attendees were representatives of the unions who volunteered on the construction, County Commission Cawley, State Representative David Steil, John Cordisco, President of the Have-a Heart Foundation, children from the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, members of our Board of Supervisors and our Planning Commission. There were a number of compliments given for the playground itself and for the landscaping and tree identification. A plaque is to be installed honoring the many volunteers.
Mr. Levine reported that he and Chris Green of Gilmore & Associates had given a PowerPoint presentation on the Woll plans at the Planning Commission meeting of July 17, 0227. Neighbors in attendance brought up two topics to be considered: whether the Township would take dedication of the retention basin belonging to St. Andrew’s Briar, and whether a structure, specifically a maintenance shed, would be located on the 10 acre portion of the property currently zoned CM. At early planning meetings, residents of St. Andrew’s Briar had been told that this land would be passive recreation, without structures. The engineers have suggested locating the shed closer to the parking lot if neighbors are opposed to the location presented at the meeting.
Mr. Levine said that Walter Leck has continued to object to lighted fields on the Woll tract. He has had a few informal conversations with some other surrounding neighbors who have indicated that they would prefer that the light poles be shorter. Mr. Levine said that the higher poles gave better control of glare and spillage, and with shorter poles the initial promise of 1/10 of one foot candle at the boundary with any residential property could not be met. These neighbors had indicated that they would be willing to accept more spillage with shorter poles, provided that all lights are extinguished at 9:30 PM.
The Planning Commission will formally review the Woll fully engineered plans at their August 21, 2007 meeting. The Planning Commission discussed the rezoning of the Woll tract, and were inclined to recommend rezoning that portion of the tract currently zoned POS as EIR, which would allow athletic fields by right, and would have a greater impervious surface ratio. The Planning Commission preferred this rezoning to the addition of any uses to the current POS zoning district, citing that other jointure partners might object to additional uses in the open space designation. The Commission also briefly discussed the use of wetlands for stormwater management.
Resident Nancy Crescenzo said that she brought the Woll tract handouts she had received at the Planning Commission meeting to the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) meeting, where she raised her concerns about the use of bio-basins for stormwater management at a location where playing fields would be treated with fertilizers. She indicated that the EAC shares her concerns. It is her opinion that the EAC should be involved in reviewing these plans. She also questioned Mr. Levine’s statements about residents of St. Andrew’s Briar not being opposed to lights on short poles, noting that she has spoken to every resident and all are against lighting of any kind at the Woll tract.
Mr. Levine said that he has had informal conversations with the chairman of the EAC, and would continue to discuss matters with him on an informal, as needed, basis. The concerns about the effect of fertilizers on the wetland retention basins are legitimate concerns that will be discussed with the landscape architect who is designing the wetlands.
Mr. Levine said that he has also discussed the environmental impact of the use of artificial turf with the EAC chairman and with the Planning Commission. He is currently working with a few companies who are preparing cost benefit analyses of artificial turf vs. grass. He has asked that these analyses consider that, because artificial turf can be used more, and does not need any dormant season, it could eliminate the eventual need to also develop the Wiggins tract for playing fields.
Mr. Wert reported that he has provided a series of maps to the Environmental Advisory Council to help them with their inventory of open space.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mr. Wert reported that program revenue is increased 3.5% over last year, while participation is up 1.8%. There have been 51 participants taking advantage of senior pricing in 21 different programs. E-flyers have been sent to 773 active members of the mailing list; this was used in the dissemination of information on the skate park demonstration.
Public works is working with Gilmore to modify prefabricated restrooms for Roberts Ridge Park.
Work is to begin on paving of trails on State Street near Freedom Drive and on Eagle Road, from Amy Circle to Jonquil Drive.
Mr. Clancy reported that the First Fourth celebration, fireworks and parade were a tremendous success. He thanked the Board for its support of the program.Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 9:00 PM. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 4-0
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary