PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF NOVEMBER 19, 2008
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on November 19, 2008 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman, Joel Grosso, Vice Chairman, Brian Bark, Michael Clancy, Kathy Kelly, Buck O’Neill and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko and Technology Committee Chairman Ed Lipski.
Call to Order
Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of September 4, 2008. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 4-0-3, with Mrs. Kelly, Mr. Bark and Mr. O’Neill abstaining.
Mr. Bark moved to accept the minutes of October 22, 2008. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 4-0-3, with Mrs. Kelly, Mr. Clancy and Mr. O’Neill abstaining.
Reports of Subcommittees
Skate Park: Mr. Levine reported that he had presented some skate park equipment plans provided by American Ramp Company to some parents and children asking for feedback on particular configurations and features. The plans shown were in the $60,000 price range, as that is the amount in the 2009 budget for equipment.
Mr. Clancy said that it had been his understanding that the Board of Supervisors would not be funding the project; funding was to have come from private sponsorships and donations.
Mr. Levine said that in the current economy it will be difficult to do any significant fundraising for this project. He understands that it is to be a budget item for the Township and that the project now has Board of Supervisors’ support.
Mr. Clancy said that he does not feel that $60,000 should come from the Park and Recreation budget at the expense of other priority projects.
Mr. Grosso agreed with Mr. Clancy, noting that the Roberts Ridge Park restroom project has been a priority for a number of years and has still not been completed.
Mr. O’Neill noted that over the past few years, a skate park has appeared in a number of budgets, but had not been built because an appropriate location had not been found. He does not see this project as being in any way “fast tracked”.
Mrs. Sutton said that the Park and Recreation Board is an advisory board only, but she asked that the Chairman continue to report to the Board of Supervisors the three priorities that the members had agreed to recommend:
Roberts Ridge Park: Mr. Levine said that he has been unable to get any vendors to come to a Board meeting to discuss compost toilets, since Newtown is interested in only one toilet. Supervisor Gallagher was to have provided a contact for Mr. Levine but he has not gotten the information at this time.
The members discussed the importance of the appearance of the restroom structure, since Roberts Ridge Park is in the middle of a residential neighborhood and visible from two streets.
Mr. Bark suggested investigating the “people pleaser” type portable restrooms used at golf tournaments. He said that they look nice and are clean and spacious inside. Since the Township would probably only want a portable structure in place for six or seven months of the year it might be a good temporary solution.
Woll Tract: Mr. Levine report that 35 bidders had attended the pre-bid meeting for development of the Woll tract. He said that this could indicate some very favorable bids. Construction could begin in March of 2009, with fields ready for use one year after completion of the construction.
Helen Randle Park: Mrs. Pawlenko presented the Board with three playground designs from Boyce Associates; all designs fit the $35,000 budget. Boyce is enrolled in the U.S. Communities program, which can offer up to a 17% discount and no bidding is required.
The members reviewed the three plans, and preferred Play Builders because it featured events for children from 2 to 12 years old. They asked Mrs. Pawlenko to investigate the cost of adding monkey bars, either now or at a later date.
Mr. Bark moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors purchase and install Play Builders 804 with monkey bars at Helen Randle Park. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 7-0.
Clark Nature Center: Mr. Levine reported that when he spoke to the Board of Supervisors about the damage to the property caused by deer, the Board had indicated that they would be directing the EAC to investigate a possible deer hunt, coordinated with the Tyler hunt, to help cull the herd. It is his understanding that with fewer deer there would be less damage to young plants, which would help to control the invasive species of plants on the property.
Silver Lake Park: Mr. Levine suggested that in the coming year the Park and Rec Board investigate possibly re-meadowing portions of the park, which might help with control of the geese.
Technology Committee: Chairman Ed Lipski was in attendance to offer assistance to the Park and Recreation Department to make better use of the technology that is already available to the Township.
Mr. Levine said that in the past year, Council Rock School District has stopped permitting the Department to distribute program flyers and brochures directly to the children. This has had an impact on program enrollment. The District is using an “e-folder” to keep parents informed, and recreation flyers are placed there, but they are difficult to find. The Department is eager to find ways to make up for this lost contact with the public. The same problem has faced the scouts and sports organizations. Mr. Levine said that he has asked these organizations to consider forwarding Recreation flyers to their e-mail lists, and they seem amenable.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that she is also attempting to reciprocate with the organizations by providing their contact and registration information both in Township e-mails and inside the brochure, which is mailed to every resident’s home.
Mr. Levine said that the Department could also benefit from a better Web presence with easier navigation. Currently a PDF of the brochure is on the Township Web site. There is no ability to register for programs on-line.
Mrs. Pawlenko cautioned that the Township technology department does not have the time or expertise to update the Web site frequently. She would be interested in changes that could easily be made within the Park and Recreation Department.
Mr. Lipski said that he would speak to the Technology Committee, which is eager to start a meaningful project. The members have the technical skill and knowledge to guide the project, but he said that consultants might be needed to design the appearance of the Web site.
Open Space Committee: Mr. Levine reported that the Open Space Committee is nearing completion of its update of the Open Space Comprehensive Plan. Once completed and submitted to the Board of Supervisors, the Committee will consider application to the County for a planning grant to reimburse the Township for expenses.
Parks and Recreation Director's Report
Mr. Levine said that he has some concerns about the Township’s plans for funding of the Park and Recreation Department staff. Mrs. Pawlenko has been promoted to Park and Recreation Director to replace Bill Wert, however, as Mrs. Pawlenko moves up, there will be no new hire or promotion to take her place. The Board of Supervisors is considering a part time person in the department, but of particular concern to Mr. Levine is the summer camp program.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that although she and Megan Smith had always run the camps, she is also concerned that the Department might be spread too thinly over the summer. She hopes that with the addition of a part time person and with help from the Technology Committee for on-line registration, programming will continue near its current efficiency level.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that there is a 4.4% increase in revenue and a 9.8% increase in participation in programs. The department has purchased reusable road signs which are being placed throughout the Township. So far response has been favorable. The department is also partnering with Northampton to increase enrollment in some current and new programs. She noted that Northampton does have rooms dedicated to recreation programs, which will be helpful.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the playing field parks are being winterized. There has been some concern about damage to the field behind Staples caused by playing when the field is wet. The department will monitor the damage and suspend use of the field if it deteriorates any further.
Mr. Levine said that he has spoken to representatives of I-9 football about using the wet field.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that both Upper Makefield/Newtown Soccer and I-9 have been using the field. An agreement is now in place to prevent further use on wet fields, and the playing season ends in the end of November.
Mr. Clancy said that this is the second time that the field behind Staples has been damaged by players. He said that he would like to see the Department institute a more stringent field usage procedure with appropriate fees.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that the Department has been attempting to collect fees from the various sports organizations, and has been working with the Bucks County Visitors Bureau to review other municipalities’ field usage forms and fee schedules to better address needed changes. The Visitors Bureau is also working on an information packets for visitors to Bucks for participation in tournaments. These packets will be tailored to the tournament host’s municipality, and will include maps, listings and coupons for lodging and restaurants and other pertinent information. They will be made available to the sports organizations organizing tournaments.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that there has been a complaint from a residential neighbor about a structure erected at Chandler Hall. This was an Eagle Scout project for which the Codes Department issued the appropriate permit, however it appears that the structure is within the setback area.
Mr. Levine said that this complaint will have to be addressed through the Township administration. Going forward, he suggested re-instituting the practice of asking scouts to present their projects to the Park and Recreation Board.
Mrs. Sutton moved to adjourn at 9:15 PM. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 7-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary