PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF DECEMBER 5, 2007
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, December 5, 2007, 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: Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:00PM
Mr. Levine reported that the Planning Commission had reviewed the engineered plans for the Woll tract at its October 30, 2007 meeting and recommended preliminary/final plan approval subject to a number of conditions. The Board of Supervisors reviewed the plan at its November 19, 2007 meeting, but voted to grant preliminary plan approval only, subject to a number of conditions. The Supervisors did not include any conditions for lights, postponing a decision on timing of lights until the new Board is in office. There were no representatives from the Little League in attendance, and very few representatives of other sports leagues or parents to speak in support of lights. Many residents of St. Andrew’s Briar and Pheasant Pointe were in attendance to speak in opposition to lights, or if lights are permitted, to request that lights be turned off by 8:30 PM. Upper Makefield Newtown Soccer Club did not object to this time, as it would allow some evening practice in the fall. Mr. Levine said that he has heard that Little League was hoping to have lights until 9:30PM to allow two games in the same evening.
Mr. Clancy said that a number of people at the meeting expressed concern about children playing late into the evenings in fall on school nights, and for this reason wanted the lights extinguished at 8:30.
Mr. Levine said that he would like to work with the various sports organizations to possibly devise a schedule for lights to allow them to remain on later on a specific number of nights per year.
Mr. Wert noted that at this time there has not been a zoning change, and Wrightstown has not voted to approve the change yet. Also unresolved is an easement with Council Rock School District for access to the park through Wrights Road. CRSD’s facilities committee did not have any issues with granting an easement, but after the easement was presented to the full school board, some concerns were raised, and the vote did not pass. Concerns had been the District’s right to gate the driveway at certain times and the lighting along the access road. These issues are being resolved to the satisfaction of both the District and the Township. The redrafted easement will be presented at the December 19, 2007 meeting of the school board.
Mr. Levine said that Wrightstown’s Planning Commission seemed to be in support of the plans and had recommended that the Board of Supervisors support the JMZO amendment to rezone the property. The vote has been held up at the Supervisors level. Mr. Levine said that the new Township Board of Supervisors seems in support of the project, but has some concerns about financing. This could mean that the full project might not be built immediately.
The Board discussed possibly postponing certain portions of the park. The landscaping and installation of walking trails, which could be postponed, is a considerable expense. Elimination of the maintenance shed from the property, however, would add considerably to worker’s time, and would increase wear and tear on equipment.
Clark Nature Center
Mr. Wert reported that he has been working with the Heritage Conservancy on revising the initial report on Natural Resource Management. This should be in a presentable form for the February meeting. He will share the report with the Environmental Advisory Council, which is working on an open space inventory and on wildlife management research.
The Board discussed use of the Wiggins tract. While it had initially been acquired for active recreation, and is listed as such in the Comprehensive Plan, many residents feel this parcel should remain as open space. Revisiting this parcel should be considered in 2008.
Carl Sedia Park
Mrs. Sutton suggested that, since there has been some interest in revitalizing this park for intergenerational activities, a daytime meeting with representatives of Gloria Dei and Chandler Hall should be scheduled in 2008 to discuss this further.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mr. Wert presented the Board with a draft “2007 year in review” report. He briefly reviewed the program participation statistics, noting that there has been some decrease in participation in the last quarter. He said that in the past, flyers were sent home with school children, which generated a good deal of interest in the programs. But with the elimination of paper flyers, as the District moves to e-folders, there has been a decline in registration. The department is working on other ways to generate interest, including an expanded e-mailing list and working with the district’s e-folder to include our programs.
The Board discussed the Park and Recreation budget for 2008, and some statements made about the department’s self-sufficiency. Mr. Wert said that the department is currently 85% self-sufficient. This figure includes the salaries and benefits of full time staff. Programs are self-sufficient, including the salaries of instructors and counselors. Mr. Wert noted that other municipalities’ Park and Recreation departments do not include staff salaries. If Newtown did not include the staff salaries, the self-sufficiency rate would be 149%.
The Board discussed whether it would be feasible to raise program or camp fees to generate more income. Mr. Wert noted that the camps and programs must be priced to compare with other municipalities’ programs. Our camp fees should be compared to fees in Northampton’s department, not to private camps
Mr. Wert reported that work on Helen Randle fields in almost complete. Chandler field repairs are to begin shortly. He said that there had been complaints from Chandler’s residential neighbor that some residents are using the fenced in fields to allow dogs to run around off-leash.
In response to questions from Mr. Grosso and Mr. Clancy, Mr. Wert said that the grassy area in Roberts Ridge Park is not a formal playing field, so he does not schedule its use. Residents are free to use the field for play if they find it available.
Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 8:30 PM. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary