PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF JUNE 3, 2009
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on June 3, 2009 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Chairman Andrew Levine, Michael Clancy, Kathy Kelly, Buck O’Neill and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko and Supervisor Robert Ciervo.
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM.
Public Comment: Residents Perry Katz and Michael Katz were in attendance to ask about progress in the skate park project.
Mr. Levine reported that the Township is hoping to close on the property adjacent to the Township field behind Staples in the next few weeks. American Ramp has provided sketch plans and an estimate of $65,000 for equipment and installation for the park. Once the Township takes possession of the parcel, the Park and Recreation Board can begin a fundraising effort for the park. It is his understanding that the Board of Supervisors would like to see an effort made toward fundraising before releasing any of the budgeted funds toward construction of the park. Mr. Levine said that there has been some interest among residents and local businesses to become involved in the fundraising efforts. He would form a 501(c)(3) corporation with the Supervisors’ permission, in order to sponsor the fundraising efforts.
Mr. Clancy said that the Township is currently very involved in a major project to build the Woll tract park. With that in mind, the Board of Supervisors is very careful with additional recreational spending.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that she would be keeping a list of residents interested in becoming involved in the efforts. Mr. Katz and his son would be added to the list, and she would provide contact information to other residents involved in the effort.
Mr. Levine urged Matthew Katz to work on fundraising among interested high school students as well as asking Perry Katz to help with possible corporate sponsorship fundraising efforts.
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Clancy moved to accept the minutes of March 4, 2009. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 5-1.
Eagle Scout Projects: Mrs. Pawlenko reported that a number of Eagle Scouts have contacted the Park and Recreation Department looking for Eagle projects. The recent bluebird house project at Clark Nature Center and Roberts Ridge has been very successful; the scout involved worked carefully with the Park and Recreation Board and the Public Works Department to insure that success. Going forward, she asked the Board to create a list of projects they would like to see accomplished working with the scouts. Clark Nature Center will need ongoing maintenance work and there is work to be done on the fenced garden. Currently, the Public Works Department has planted pumpkins and corn with an eye toward fall programming.
Mrs. Sutton suggested that perhaps different scout troops could take on maintenance of specific portions of the park, clearing and maintaining trails, working the garden, maintaining the outdoor classroom area.
The Board agreed that dividing the park into smaller areas with each interested troop assigned an area might be less overwhelming than asking for help on the entire park.
Mrs. Pawlenko noted that as Council Rock School District is raising its fees for use of the schools for meeting space, the scout troops are approaching the Township for meeting space. It might be a good idea to investigate putting a floor in the barn at Clark to be used for Township programs and scout meetings. She would like to approach the scouts about a fundraising effort to put in the floor. The public works department could install a cement floor if materials were purchased.
The Board was supportive of this idea, but there were some questions as to whether fundraising alone could count toward an Eagle project. Mr. Levine suggested possibly expanding the planting area around Silver Lake as a project. The Board members agreed to look into this and to look for other opportunities at Clark and the other Township parks for suitable Eagle projects.
Reports of Subcommittees
Park Development: Mrs. Pawlenko reported that sediment basins, sewer and water lines have been installed at the Woll tract. Grading of athletic fields is being done.
Mr. Levine said that with the Woll tract now under construction he has been speaking to representatives of girls softball and little league about future field usage. Both leagues are interested in an agreement which would make Helen Randle Park fields softball fields and Woll and Chandler fields baseball fields. Mr. Levine has pointed out to the softball representatives that Helen Randle Park cannot have lighted fields, and both leagues are willing to accept that at this time. He will continue to work on an agreement.
Dr. Ciervo noted that he has recently encountered parking difficulties at the parks when tournaments are in progress. He questioned whether there has been any limit placed on the number of teams participating in tournaments to make sure that our facilities are adequate for the number of cars expected.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that she has been working to update the field usage applications and fees for all of the parks, and has been working with the various sports organization to insure that applications are correctly filed and fees are collected for field usage for regular play and for tournaments. She is attempting to create a tournament application with a fee for park usage and an additional per player charge. The per player charge would help to ascertain the number of participants expected at the park. She would work with codes and public works to establish a maximum capacity for each park based on the available parking. With the Woll tract opening in the next year, it will be important to have the field/tournament applications updated and in place for all sports.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that in addition to youth sports leagues using fields, she has found that Council Rock School District Teams and a local college have used Township fields without prior notification or application.
Roberts Ridge: Mr. Levine reported that Mr. Crossland, Director of Public Works, has filed forms with the department of Health for the compost toilets.
Mrs. Pawlenko noted that she and Mr. Crossland visited a site with the compost toilets in operation and have contacted a number of other venues where the toilets are in place and there have been no negative reports. She presented a plan of the proposed location of the restroom, near the playground and the existing paved path.
Technology Report: Mrs. Pawlenko reported that she has met with Mr. Lipski and with Northampton’s Director of Parks and Recreation to discuss Northampton’s recently upgraded Web site hosted by My Rec Department. She and Mr. Lipski think My Rec might be a good match for Newtown. They would design and host the site, with the Park and Recreation Department doing day to day updates and changes. It appears that My Rec can continue to provide the same reports the department currently generates through Access. Mr. Lipski is investigating this further. The estimated cost is about $3000 per year. Additional quotes will be sought from other providers for comparison.
Environmental Advisory Council: Mr. Levine said that he would like to seek advice from the EAC about meadowing of some of the Township’s open space. He is concerned that while meadowing might save effort on maintenance of the open space, it could be in violation of the Township’s Weed Ordinance.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report: Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the Department is feeling the effects of the current economy and there are still some available openings in the camp programs. She is attempting to get the word out, hoping that some families have only postponed enrolling. She will place a notice on the Township Web site and teleprompter and she asked Mr. Levine to announce the availability in his report to the Supervisors. She noted that Camp Beechtree, which had in the past been half day for those entering kindergarten, has added a class for children entering first grade. This has proven popular, and Beechtree is filling more quickly.
Mrs. Pawlenko asked whether the Park and Recreation Board would like to have a presence at Special Olympics and the Senior Games. She is also trying to work with RSVP, a senior citizen volunteer group, to see if there is any interest in senior programming and Clark Nature Center programming.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that the School District has dramatically increased fees for meeting space which is also having an impact on Park and Rec revenues.
Member Comments: Mrs. Sutton reported that the Park and Recreation Board did a wonderful job at this year’s Arbor Day celebration, planting two trees at Roberts Ridge Park and running a few activities for the children at Goodnoe School.
Mrs. Sutton reported that she had attended the Newtown Creek Coalition’s visioning meeting at the Newtown Theater, where a slide show with ideas for the future use of the Creek were presented.
Mr. Levine said that he has recently become involved with a group called Delaware Valley Earth Force. He will investigate possible partnership opportunities with our Park and Recreation Board.
Mrs. Sutton said she had some concerns about releases of water from the dam at Hidden Lake. She noted that these releases are unannounced. There have been some creek clean-up activities planned for later in the month, which could be dangerous if a release were to coincide with a planned activity such as this.
Mrs. Sutton moved to adjourn at 8:40 PM. Mr. Clancy seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary