PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF AUGUST 6, 2008
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, August 6, 2008, 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 was Interim Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
Mr. Levine reported that the Board of Supervisors has asked this Board to consider the renaming of the Woll tract and/or some of the fields. One of the Supervisors has expressed interest in naming either the park or the fields after those Newtown residents killed in the Vietnam War. Another consideration could be the sale of naming rights. The field behind Staples should also be considered for naming.
Mrs. Sutton said that her husband had co-authored a book with Peter Woll. Mr. Woll expressed some interest in selling his family farm, but did not want the property developed as housing. Mr. Sutton guided Mr. Woll to Township officials, who were able to make the deal that preserved the land. Mrs. Sutton suggested attempting to contact Mr. Woll to discuss his interest in having the field’s name remain Woll.
Reports of Subcommittees
Woll Tract Park: Mr. Levine reported that Township Engineer Michele Fountain is working with Gilmore Associates to put together a bid package for the park. It is hoped that bids will be opened and awarded some time in November, with groundbreaking in the spring.
Skate Park: Resident Michael Iapalucci was in attendance to discuss this project’s progress.
Mr. Levine reported that the acquisition of a parcel of land is being finalized. The parcel, adjacent to the Township rectangular field behind Staples, will the transferred to the Township at a cost of $1. The land is sufficient in size to accommodate a 75’ X 100’ pad for a skate park. Parking already exists at the site. Three skate ramp companies, Spahn Ranch, American Ramp Company and Solo Ramp, have been asked to submit two sets of plans each, with a budget of between $60,000 and $85,000. Once the land is acquired and plans provided, Mr. O’Neill will contact a group of interested teens and children that he has worked with, to get input on the users preferences regarding features and layouts. The park at Hopewell is being used as a guide, as so many of the skaters have expressed a preference for this park over Middletown’s.
Mr. Levine said that fundraising committee will be formed; some residents have already expressed willingness to help with the fundraising effort. Some corporate sponsorship might be sought. Some additional costs associated with the park are fencing and pavement.
Mr. Iapalucci said that he was disappointed that the Township is not supporting this project financially, when it has pledged millions to the Woll tract and to organized sports fields. He asked about Township funding.
Mr. Clancy said that all decisions on budget are made by the Supervisors. This Board had been told by the Supervisors that the Woll tract was to be a priority a few years ago, and it has taken precedence over other projects proposed by the Park and Recreation Board, including restrooms for Roberts Ridge Park.
Mr. Levine said that a skate park had appeared in Township budgets about four or five years ago. Although $75,000 had been budgeted at that time, there was no available site to build a skate park. Since that time the skate park has been removed from the budget. He said that residents interested in seeing a skate park funded by the Township should make those feelings known to the Supervisors as they begin preparing the 2009 budget.
Mr. Iapalucci said that he would like to help, both with fundraising and with petitioning the Supervisors to include the park in the budget. He suggested that he would like the Supervisors to budget the full amount, with any donations offsetting the Township’s budget.
Mr. Levine reviewed a timeline, which would include the completion of land acquisition within the next few weeks, review of plans within the next two months, and fundraising efforts to begin in the fall.
In response to Mr. Iapalucci’s questions, Mr. Levine said that decisions on rules for the skate park and hours of operation would be considered further into the project. The Township has a new insurance carrier. The previous carrier did not indicate an increase in the liability insurance, but did require that users sign waivers, users wear helmets and that an attendant be present when the park is in use. Whether a fee would be required has not yet been determined.
Mrs. Sutton urged Mr. Iapalucci to speak to the Board about inclusion of the skate park in the budget; she suggested that he work with other residents who share his enthusiasm for the park, to make their feelings known to the Supervisors at public meetings.
Clark Nature Center: Mr. Levine presented the Board with copies of the summary and goals of the Heritage Conservancy Stewardship report. He noted that among the goals repeated throughout the report was the expanded use of the property for recreational and educational programs.
Mr. Levine said that there is considerable concern about stormwater impacts and water quality. Much of the stormwater impact should be addressed by the improvements proposed as part of the Woll tract’s stormwater management system. The School District’s stormwater system is also contributing to the erosion issues. This should be discussed with the District.
Mrs. Sutton expressed some concern about the deer damage at the Clark Nature Center. She noted that deer damage is an issue for the property, the Township and the region.
The recording secretary updated the Board on efforts of the Environmental Advisory Council to gather data on wildlife management. The EAC has been reviewing reports prepared by neighboring municipalities, collecting data on deer/car accidents and documenting Lyme disease.
Mrs. Sutton suggested that the deer and wildlife management would better be addressed by the EAC as a Township/region issue.Mr. Levine asked that the Board continue to review the Stewardship Plan for continued discussion throughout the fall.
Newtown Creek Coalition: Mrs. Sutton reported that the Coalition has scheduled two clean-up days in August for the areas around the bridges at Centre Street and at Washington Avenue. She learned that a grant had been turned down for Creek repair near Carl Sedia Park because the project was too small.
Open Space Committee: Mrs. Sutton reported that she and Mr. Levine are part of this newly formed committee, which has been formed to update the open space comprehensive plan.
Mr. Levine said that he has circulated a draft of goals and objectives for the committee to discuss at its next meeting. Among the goals is an inventory of Township open space.
Parks and Recreation Director's Report
Mrs. Pawlenko reported an increase in Park and Recreation program participation of 7.9% and in revenue of 2.87%. Summer camp ended this week. The integration of extended school year students with Camp Newtown kids was very successful, and will hopefully be included in future camp years. One concern going forward is the supply budget, which had been cut this year. The camps were able to make use of supplies left over from last year, but next year the supplies will need to be replenished. In response to questions from the Board, Mrs. Pawlenko said that after camp care was successful for Camp Newtown, but there was little interest in after care at Camp Beechtree and Teen Camp. There had been some concern about unstructured time at teen camp. It is a difficult age to engage all of the children in similar activities, but the camp staff will work to improve the program for next year.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the program book is near completion and will be sent to print later this week. She would like to include a list of the sports organizations that Newtown residents participate in, and asked the Board to provide any updated information they might have.
Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 8:30 PM. Mr. O’Neill seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary