PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF JANUARY 30, 2008
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, January 30, 2008, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Brian Bark, Michael Clancy, Joel Grosso, Kathy Kelly, Andrew Levine, Buck O’Neill and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance was Planning Commission Liaison Jim Ott.
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:00PM
Approval of Minutes
Mrs. Kelly moved to accept the minutes of October 3, 2007. Mr. O’Neill seconded and the motion passed 4-0-3, with Mrs. Sutton, and Messrs. Clancy and Bark abstaining.
Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of December 5, 2007. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 6-0-1, with Mr. Bark abstaining.
Mr. Clancy nominated Mr. Levine to serve as chairman. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Levine nominated Mr. Grosso to serve as vice-chairman. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The Board introduced themselves to Mr. Bark and Mr. Ott. Mr. Levine said that Supervisor Ciervo would be the Board of Supervisors liaison. He will be taking an active part in the business of the Board, but it out of town this evening.
The Board discussed presenting former member John Davis with some kind of proclamation or recognition at a Board of Supervisors meeting. Mr. Davis had served on the Park and Recreation Board since its inception, chaired the Park and Recreation Comprehensive Plan Committee and founded and serves on the First Fourth Committee. He is also an active participant in Arbor Day festivities.
Mr. Levine reported that he and Dr. Ciervo have been involved in discussions with Senator McIlhinney about placing rectangular playing fields in Tyler Park. If fields could be placed within the park, it could help to preserve the Wiggins tract as open space. Details would have to be worked out with DCNR. Messrs. Bark, Clancy and O’Neill agreed to work on a subcommittee for this project.
Mr. Levine said that the Township’s open space comprehensive plan is more than ten years old. The Board should consider reviewing and updating it, possibly working with the Environmental Advisory Council which is compiling an inventory of open space. The Heritage Conservancy might also make contributions to such a project.
Mr. Levine reported that the Township has re-opened the 2008 budget, creating a “to be determined” category for Park and Recreation Capital Expenditures. A number of capital projects have been placed in this category, including deer fencing at the Clark Nature Center and restrooms for Roberts Ridge Park. All of the capital projects moved to this new category will be re-examined. The Supervisors’ objective is to save money toward the acquisition of open space.
Board members expressed some concern about elimination of the Roberts Ridge restrooms. They all asked Mr. Levine to discuss this further with the Supervisors, as the restrooms are needed, especially now, with the completion of the handicapped playground retrofit.
Mr. Levine reported that Park and Recreation programs are now 155% self-sufficient. This number refers to costs associated with programs, including instructors’ salaries, but does not include Department employees’ salaries. There is some concern that the School District’s new e-folder policy is affecting enrollment in many programs. Mr. Wert is trying to work with the School District and with Northampton Township’s Park and Recreation Board on possibly producing some paper flyers for distribution in the schools, coming directly from the municipal governments. The Townships would work with various sports and scouting organizations to act as distributors of registration information. In exchange, the two municipalities would ask these organizations to forward Park and Rec program information to their e-mailing lists.
Clark Nature Center
Mr. Levine reported that the Heritage Conservancy’s Natural Resources Management report, at least in draft form, should be available to members at the March meeting.
Mr. Grosso reported that Little League has been discussing the Township’s condition that field lights be extinguished at 8:30 PM. The Little League agrees with this condition, but would like to possibly request some exceptions for extended hours in the summer months to host tournaments. This would not occur every year, and there would be a specific number of evenings included in the exception.
Mrs. Kelly said that during the discussion of park lighting hours, neighboring residents and many parents expressed some concern about young children attending practices and games after 8:30. Most of the parents agreed that they would not want the children out later than this, especially in spring and fall, when school is in session.
Mr. Grosso said that the exceptions would not be for spring and fall events, but for summer evenings. The Little League would like a specific number of evenings allowed, but not specific dates. Little League would want flexibility to schedule tournaments and events differently year to year, without having to approach adjoining neighbors every time. The Little League might possibly also want to use temporary speakers for these few special events.
Mr. Ott noted that the Planning Commission had recommended that loud speakers not be permitted.
Mr. Levine indicated that recent discussions with the Board of Supervisors have led him to believe that the Woll Tract will be phased in over time rather than financed through a bond issue and built at once. If the park is phased in, Phase I would include access through Wrights Road, parking and playing fields. Phase I could possibly also include restrooms and a snack shed. Sports organizations would be responsible for the cost of lights. Tennis and basketball courts, pavilion and walking trails would be included in subsequent phases. The issue of an easement with the School District is still to be resolved, as is the zoning change to EIR. Engineer Sharon Dotts has indicated that elimination of the walking trails and use of porous paving would make the park 8% impervious, and would meet requirements of the current zoning. The plans only have preliminary approval. Mr. Levine said that he is hoping to get final approval shortly, with groundbreaking some time in 2008.
Mr. Levine reported that he has been in discussion with a Township business owner who is interested in allowing a skate park to be built on a portion of his property. Dr. Ciervo has also expressed interest in budgeting for at skate park located in place of basketball courts at Woll tract.
Mrs. Sutton said that she has been in touch with the recreation director at Gloria Dei recently. The residents association might be interested in meeting with the Township to discuss senior recreation.
Mrs. Sutton said that she will be compiling all of the information she has gathered from the various senior groups she’s been in contact with to present to the Board.
The Board discussed hosting a forum of some kind with representatives from Chandler Hall, Pickering Manor, Council Rock Senior Center, St. Andrew’s Senior Center, Gloria Dei and the Park and Recreation programming staff to discuss recreation opportunities available to Township seniors.
Mr. Ott reported that the Planning Commission recently reorganized, naming Allen Fidler as Chairman, Jay Sensibaugh as Vice-chairman and Jim Bowe as Secretary. The new Township Engineers attended the meeting, and the Planning Commission is looking forward to working with them. They will be involved in reviewing the final plans for Woll. The next meeting has been canceled as there are no plan reviews ready.
Mr. Ott said that at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting a resident had suggested seeking advice on propagating the rare rhododendrons at the Clark Nature Center.
Mr. Levine said that this has also been mentioned by the Heritage Conservancy. When that report is presented the Board will have more information on how to go about doing that.
Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 8:50 PM. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary