PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF SEPTEMBER 3, 2008
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, September 3, 2008, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman; Joel Grosso, Vice Chairman, Michael Clancy and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were Interim Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko and Supervisor Robert Ciervo (late).
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
Approval of Minutes
Minutes were not approved as there was not a quorum of attendees at the August 6 and June 4, 2008 meetings.
New Business Mr. Levine explained to the representatives of applicants in attendance that the Park and Recreation Board, as an advisory board, reviews the new construction and remaining open space on projects to recommend to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors whether to accept dedication of open space or to require a fee in lieu.
Harold Beck & Sons, 11 Terry Drive: Architect Rhett Jones presented this plan for a 25,000 square foot addition to an existing building. The plans include relocation of some parking and installation of a loading berth. The building will be additional manufacturing space.
Mrs. Sutton moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space for this project. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Lithos LP, 10 Friends Lane: Mark Haver of Pickering Corts & Summerson was in attendance to review this plan for a 37,000 square foot building to be connected to an existing 25,000 square foot building for office use. This is a 7 acre parcel. The plan shows additional parking and expansion of the existing stormwater facilities.
Mr. Clancy moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space for this project. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Silver Lake Executive Campus, 42 University Drive: Tony Noce of Pitcairn Properties was in attendance to review this plan for two connected 75,000 square foot, three story office buildings. The project, while not having an entrance onto the Newtown Bypass, is visible from the Bypass. The existing stormwater facilities will serve the new buildings. Mr. Noce said that when the Newtown Bypass was built, Pitcairn donated land for the road and entered into an agreement that future fees in lieu of open space would be waived.
Mr. Levine said that the Solicitor would review any agreements to determine whether the fees are to be waived. He has already spoken to the Solicitor about this.
Mr. Levine moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space subject to the Solicitor’s interpretation of pre-existing agreements with Pitcairn regarding exemption of this property from future fees. Mr. Clancy seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Subcommittees
Clark Nature Center: The Board discussed the report of the Heritage Conservancy, which documents three major areas of concern:
Mr. Levine said that the development of the Woll tract, and its stormwater management should help with erosion control on the property, but he has some serious concerns about deer and invasive species. Former Township Naturalist Russell Strover had indicated that new growth is hindered by deer, who eat any new plants as soon as they grow. There is no way for the woods to regenerate.
The members discussed efforts of Upper Makefield to control the deer population of Bowman’s Tower by fencing. To fence the Clark Nature Center would be a tremendous expense, and might not be effective. The Environmental Advisory Council has been researching wildlife management but has not as yet offered any recommendations. Clark Nature Center is being decimated by deer right now. The members agreed that unless or until the Township has developed a plan to maintain and restore the Clark Nature Center by means of controlling both the deer and invasive species, the Park and Recreation Board could not recommend purchase of additional wooded open space. A maintenance plan, which would include a budget, should be developed before moving forward with additional wooded open space acquisitions.
Resident Michael Iapalucci asked about chemical repellents for deer control.
Mr. Levine said that this had been attempted at the County level. The smell is oppressive in close proximity to residential properties.
Skate Park: Mr. Levine reported that the acquisition of the land next to the soccer field behind Staples has not yet been finalized. Once that happens, three ramp companies will submit sample proposals and fundraising efforts can begin.
Mr. Iapalucci asked about prior years’ Township budgets, which had included skate park equipment. He asked whether the equipment would be purchased entirely through fundraising or whether the equipment could be put back into the Park and Recreation budget.
Mr. Clancy noted that the Township would be preparing the budget shortly for presentation in November. Last year a number of items, many considered priorities by the Park and Recreation Board, were removed from the budget and moved to a new category of open space acquisition. He suggested that Mr. Iapalucci and other interested residents approach the Board of Supervisors to request that this be placed back into the budget.
Woll Tract: Mr. Levine reported that there have been some e-mail requests asking that fields at the Woll tract be named for some local military members killed in Vietnam. He said that, since the leagues are being asked to pay for field lighting, they might request naming rights as well. He expressed some concern that, if fields are given the names of some specific people, there might be some veterans whose families feel they have been overlooked.
The members discussed naming the park “ Veterans Memorial Park” to honor all Newtown veterans of all wars going back to the American Revolution. Names could be placed on a plaque within the park. Mrs. Sutton suggested that the various branches of service might be honored, for example, “Navy Veterans Field”. The Board agreed to continue this discussion, but generally the members favored naming the park for all veterans of all wars.
Dog Park: Mr. Levine said that he has received several e-mails about a dog park, but has not yet gotten a petition showing Newtown residents in support of the idea. Discussion was tabled.
Carl Sedia Park: Mr. Levine said that he had recently seen articles about “senior playgrounds.” This might be something the Board could investigate for Carl Sedia Park.
Park Development Priorities: Mr. Clancy said that he is concerned that some of this Board’s priorities have not yet been accomplished. He asked that the Board discuss its priorities for 2009 at the next meeting in order to be sure that these projects are included in the 2009 budget. He listed the following, as equally important priorities to be discussed:
Open Space Committee: Mrs. Pawlenko presented a map of the township owned parks and open space, trails and sidewalk links to the Board. She said that Beth Leone of the technology department has created the map, using information from herself and Public Works Director Gary Crossland. She said that she and the recording secretary have toured the parks and trails to confirm links with sidewalks. She asked Board members for suggestions for inclusion in the map to help both the Park and Recreation Board and the Open Space Committee with their work.
In addition to the map, Mrs. Pawlenko said that she has completed a survey of amenities in the parks as requested by the Bucks County Planning Commission.
The members pointed out a few minor changes to the map, and suggested that the trails and sidewalks appear in the same color to better illustrate all connected paths for residents use. It will also better illustrate where connections should be made in the future. They were very pleased with the map and praised Ms. Leone’s efforts.
Parks and Recreation Department Report
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that program revenue is up 2.87% and participation is up 9.6%. The fall brochure will be mailed within the week. St. Andrew’s School has agreed to distribute the brochure to students. The department is continuing its efforts to send e-flyers to residents with specific program topics.
Two vending machines at Helen Randle Park have been vandalized. They are being repaired.
Mr. Crossland has begun a recycling campaign at Helen Randle Park. He has been attempting to work with the Leagues on trash pick-up. The Leagues using the park do an excellent job of clearing trash from the park and placing it in receptacles. The recycling should be successful, since the users are already conscientious about trash disposal.
In response to questions from the Board, Mrs. Pawlenko said that at summer camps she accepts applications for volunteers, or councelors in training, to work at Camp Beechtree with young campers. She suggested that children interested in participating in the volunteer program first offer their time to help with some of the programs and classes during the year. Help is needed for any of the art, sports or science classes offered to younger children. This gives the Park and Recreation Department an opportunity to get to know the volunteers, and gives the volunteers an opportunity to see whether they would like to commit to the summer camp program.
Mrs. Pawlenko asked the Board whether they would support the use of Township fields for Jeff Mantos Baseball Academy for a fall league. Members agreed that, since most of the children in the Academy are also members of other Township leagues, there would be no objection if field usage can be worked out between Mantos and the fall Little League program.
Mr. Grosso suggested that time be set aside at the October meeting for sports leagues to present their field “wish lists”.
Dr. Ciervo arrived at this point.
Mr. Levine reviewed previous discussion on the skate park and Board priorities, including the Helen Randle playground and Roberts Ridge restrooms. He also provided Dr. Ciervo with a copy of the Clark Nature Center report. He pointed out that there has been some resident correspondence requesting replacement of the Helen Randle Playground.
Dr. Ciervo said that it is his understanding that a grant has been received from the State to cover a portion of the cost of the playground. He suggested that the Board develop a budget for the playground at its next meeting, to be presented to the Board of Supervisors for inclusion in the upcoming budget, or possibly to be paid from the Park and Recreation funds already set aside.
Regarding the Roberts Ridge restrooms, Dr. Ciervo asked that the Board investigate composting restrooms. This might be a good location for this type of restroom because of the slope of the ground.
Mr. Clancy moved to adjourn at 8:30 PM. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary