The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on February 4, 2009 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Chairman, Joel Grosso, Vice Chairman and Susan Sutton, member. Also in attendance was Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko.

Due to illnesses, this meeting lacked a quorum. For the review of OHB Homes, Inc. member Buck O’Neill participated on speakerphone.

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM.

New Business

Eagle Scout Bluebird House Project: Brian Shugrue of Boy Scout Troop 29 presented a plan to install 10 bluebird houses at Roberts Ridge Park and 3 at Clark Nature Center. He showed a sample of the wooden birdhouse, which is constructed of cedar. The houses will be placed on galvanized poles in PVC sleeves at 100 yard intervals 30 feet from the tree lines. He has worked with Public Works Director Gary Crossland to locate the poles in ways that will not interfere with mowing and other park maintenance.

Brian explained that bluebirds are a species in decline. The houses encourage bluebirds to nest. The openings in the houses are small, so do not attract other birds. The front of each house opens for cleaning. His troop will work on fundraising, installation and an annual maintenance program. He will also be observing and tracking the bluebirds using the houses. It is his understanding that prior to the installation he must coordinate with “one call” to be sure the digging does not interfere with utility.

Mr. Levine thanked Brian and his family for the careful planning that has gone into this project, which will be an asset to the community. He explained that it is important that scouts coordinate their park projects with the Park and Recreation Department, Board and Public Works.

OHB Homes, Inc.: (At Mr. Murphy’s suggestion, member Buck O’Neill participated in the review via speakerphone) Attorney Ed Murphy was in attendance to review this plan for development of a 63 acre parcel as a 40 twin home development. He noted that the plan had been before this Board before as a development of single family homes on what has been called the Goodnoe tract. The plan had been approved, but a resident had appealed that decision in the Court of Common Pleas and approval was overturned. The current plan features retention of three original homes and construction of 40 twin homes with two access points on Eagle Road. There are 45 acres of open space at the rear of the property near Hidden Lake and Newtown Creek.

Mr. Levine said that when the original plan had been presented the Board of Supervisors had not been interested in acquiring the open space. The Park and Recreation Board had recommended accepting a fee in lieu of open space, with the open space remaining the property of a homeowners association. The builder had agreed to provide access to the creek area by way of a trail access from Eagle Road. This would have eventually linked the Peter Taylor Farmstead to Hidden Lake on one side of Eagle Road and on the other side the Woll Tract, the Clark Nature Center, Helen Randle Park and Tyler Park.

Mr. Grosso said that if the space remains open then he would prefer that it remain the property of the homeowners association.

Mr. O’Neill said that he would like to see the Township collect a fee in lieu and have access through a trail.

Mr. Murphy indicated that the builder would still be willing to provide an access point to the creek.

Mrs. Sutton moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space for OHB Homes, Inc., with the condition that the developer provide pedestrian access to Hidden Lake. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Mr. O’Neill did not participate in the remainder of the meeting.

Subcommittee Reports

Park Development

Woll Tract: Mr. Levine reported that new bids will be opened on February 18, 2009. The mandatory pre-bid meeting was well attended.

Skate Park: Mr. Levine reported that the Township will be closing on the skate park property at Newtown Shopping Center shortly. He has had an estimate on a ramp configuration with installation, similar to that discussed at the last meeting, at about $60,000. Spahn Ranch had contacted him, also interested in the project, but their estimate, which did not include installation for $89,000. American Ramp is a direct distributor of its own equipment, which may account for the difference in price.

Liaison Reports

Planning Commission: Robert Whartenby introduced himself as the new liaison from the Planning Commission. He reported that the Commission had recently reviewed plans Rockbridge Estates, a two lot subdivision on Washington Crossing Road. The Township is acquiring about 6 acres of land along Newtown Creek as part of land development. The developer will provide an access easement from Washington Crossing Road to the creek. The Planning Commission had also recommended that, since the property is already heavily wooded, if there is an ordinance requirement for tree replacement, the Township either accept a fee in lieu or the donation of trees to be planted on Township property, perhaps in parks.

Technology Committee: Chairman Ed Lipski was in attendance to discuss a “requirements document” that he has produced to help develop a Township Park and Recreation Web site. This documents outlines the needs of the “customer”. The goal is to create a more responsive site than the current PDF of the Park and Recreation brochure. At this time all program registration must be done by telephone or in person during business hours. After speaking at length with Mrs. Pawlenko and the Park and Recreation staff he has developed this document and begun investigating third parties that would develop and host the site. There are a few businesses that specialize in hosting of Park and Rec site; Northampton Township is using such a host.

Mr. Levine said that the Park and Recreation Department is currently using an access database. He asked whether a new Web site would be compatible with access or whether this would be a good time to evaluate its continued use.

Mr. Lipski said that he would recommend a two pronged process to move away from access while pursuing an updated Web site. He would like to avoid double entries, so would suggest a Web data base and a third party reporting program.

Mrs. Pawlenko said that she has reviewed the Northampton Web site and would prefer something a little more recognizable as Newtown Township’s Park and Recreation site, with a less cluttered appearance. She has spoken to Mr. Lipski about creating an easily navigated site that would be accessible to members of the community who are not too computer savvy. She will continue to work with Mr. Lipski and the Technology Committee to develop a plan to move forward.

Park and Recreation Director’s Report

Mrs. Pawlenko reported that revenue and participation is up for programs. Camp early registration is going on right now.

Mrs. Pawlenko said that she has investigated using the person who does the Township newsletter to produce the program brochure but this will probably not be feasible at this time. She will continue to look into other ways to reduce the costs for printing and distribution.

Mrs. Pawlenko is working on a facility use application for the fields. She has been surveying other municipalities to see how they charge. One idea she would like to initiate is a security deposit in the event of field damage.

Mr. Levine said that it has been a few years since any of the team organizations have come to a Park and Recreation Board meeting to present their field needs. He suggested that this practice be re-instituted.

Roberts Ridge Park Compost Toilets

Al White of BioSun Systems gave a presentation on a composting toilet system for use at Roberts Ridge. He explained that the system uses an excavated basement area and a precast unit which is delivered and placed into the excavated basement. The system uses an aerobic digester powered by either wind, electricity or solar power. A blower is working at all times causing waste matter to break down. There is no odor. He explained that there is a staircase with a 6.5 foot clearance, similar in appearance to a cellar door, and no public works employee would ever enter the basement chamber, only the outer area to change the filters annually.

Mr. Levine said that the Board and Public Works Director have concerns about:

  • Slope required for installation
  • Confined Space for maintenance
  • Maintenance procedures
  • Costs
  • Odor

Mr. White repeated that there is no odor with this system. An excavation is made for the basement bunker, so the system can be installed without a sloping terrain. There is no confined space area. The system needs periodic changing of filters and is otherwise under warranty. The restroom itself is cleaned the same as any other restroom, using non-bleach cleaners. No special toilet paper is required. A hand sanitizing station and trash receptacle is part of the restroom, which could also accommodate a diaper changing area.

Mr. White said that the Sunflower II unit, which has a 6 foot square stall large enough to accommodate a wheelchair would cost $37,500 installed. The Township would be responsible for excavating; he would provide the dimensions for the hole.

Mr. White showed a series of slides of the units, which are fireproof units with wooden trusses on metal slides with an appearance similar to a large shed. They can be dressed up and landscaped to look attractive.

Mrs. Pawlenko and Mr. Levine asked Mr. White to provide some municipal references so that she, Mr. Crossland and Mr. Levine can speak to their counterparts who are using the system. He will also provide a list of systems within a reasonable drive so that Mr. Crossland and Mrs. Pawlenko can arrange a possible visit to the sites. He explained that he is not required to be under state contract because each unit is custom designed for the specific site. He is listed as a sole source supplier with the DEP.

Mrs. Sutton suggested if the system is chosen, the Park and Recreation Board should begin a public education on “green” technologies.

The meeting adjourned at 10:15 PM


Respectfully Submitted:


Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary