PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF SEPTEMBER 2, 2009
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on September 2, 2009 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Chairman Andrew Levine, Vice Chairman Joel Grosso, Brian Bark, Michael Clancy, Kathy Kelly, Buck O’Neill and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were Ed Lipski, Technology Committee Chairman and Kathy Pawlenko, Park and Recreation Director.
Call to Order: Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
Approval of Minutes: Mr. O’Neill moved to accept the minutes of July 1, 2009. Mr. Levine seconded and the motion passed 3-0-4, with Mrs. Kelly, Mrs. Sutton, Mr. Clancy and Mr. Bark abstaining. Mr. Bark noted that he had participated by telephone for the review of the Rosebank Winery and Lockheed Martin plans for land development.
Promenade at Sycamore Street – Preliminary Plan for Land Development: Attorney Ed Murphy was in attendance to review this plan for development of a 1.9 acre parcel. The plan shows a three story building with 23,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and 25 residential condominiums on the second and third stories. Parking for the retail portion is at the rear of the building and residential parking is underground. Stormwater management is underground. There is no area available for open space.
The Board reviewed the plan and the architectural renderings of the building.
Mrs. Sutton moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 7-0.
Presentation by Little League: Kevin O’Shea of Newtown Little League reviewed plans for improvements to fields. Little League would like a sprinkler system for the individual fields at Chandler Fields as well as storage boxes for the middle and front fields. The League would pay the $3500 for installation of the sprinkler system.
The League would like to divide the storage shed at Helen Randle Park. New stands are needed on the 3 rd base side of the 90 foot field. The League is planning a field day on October 3 for training on field maintenance. The League makes substantial contributions to the maintenance of the fields.
Mrs. Pawlenko noted that some Public Works employees plan to attend and participate in field day event. A meeting is scheduled between the League and Township at Helen Randle to review plans for the shed. The stands are being replaced on a schedule and she will investigate whether the requested stands are included in this program.
Mr. Levine advised Mr. O’Shea to coordinate all work with our Park and Recreation Director, Public Works Director and Codes Department if permits might be required.
Mr. O’Shea asked for a waiver of the $300 fee for tournaments.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that she is not in a position to waive any fees, but she would like to revise the fee schedule. She noted that the fees for tournaments are not equitable and do not adequately address differences in the number of fields used, length of tournament or players in attendance.
The Board agreed that they would like to work with Mrs. Pawlenko to review the field usage fee schedule before the Woll tract opens.
In response to questions from Mr. O’Shea about the Woll tract, Mr. Levine said that no decisions have been made yet on use of the snack shed. Lines have been installed for water to the fields. He reviewed field plans, which include two Little League fields, one softball field and one 90 foot field. Fences, dugouts and stands are part of the plans, but he is not sure whether scoreboards were included.
Mr. O’Shea said that there has been some discussion about a field swap of one baseball field at Helen Randle Park for the softball field at the Woll tract. There was some resistance from Rock Softball because the Woll tract will be brand new and there is the opportunity for lights at the Woll tract. Discussions will continue.
Resident Ann Porter, in attendance on behalf of Rock Softball, said that the concern is exactly that, accepting an older field without the possibility of lighting. Also of concern is the parking at Helen Randle.
Mr. Levine urged the representatives of the leagues to attend Board of Supervisors meetings to let the Board know what is needed, the large number of resident participants in the leagues and the work of volunteers to maintain and improve fields.
Technology Committee: Chairman Ed Lipski was in attendance to review the plans for an upgraded Park and Recreation Web site. The Technology Committee is recommending myrecdept.com to host an interactive Web site with on-line registration. The Committee and the Park and Rec Department have met with myrecdept.com representatives and with Northampton Township’s Park and Recreation Director, who highly recommended this host. The cost would be $3000 per year. The Committee did consider some other services, but myrecdept.com had the best price and their business specializes in hosting municipal recreation departments. Myrecdept.com will work with the Township’s bank to continue processing credit card transactions without charge.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that once the initial site is set up, her department would be able to maintain listings, such as adding or closing classes. The site would still allow her to generate the reports she currently does. It will reduce the workload on staff, making them available to pursue more productive activities. She noted that Northampton has seen an increase in registrations since switching.
Mrs. Porter said that she has used Northampton’s on-line registration and finds it easy and convenient. Newtown’s registration currently must be done during the business day, either in person or on the telephone, or via regular mail.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that she hopes that over time it will also help reduce the costs of printing of brochures and flyers. She will contact Northampton for exact information on enrollment increases.
The Board agreed to support the Technology Committee’s recommendation to the Board of Supervisors and thanked Mr. Lipski and the Committee for its help with this plan.
Reports of Subcommittees
Skate Park: Mr. Levine reported that he had presented the skate park plans from American Ramp, along with a proposed budget, to the Board of Supervisors. It seems that while the Park and Recreation Board had been under the impression that the paving of the pad would be part of the 2009 road program, it was not included and there is no agreement in place for a donated pad. The Board voted to contribute a matching fund for donations to the skate park at 4-1 up to $60,000.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenkoreported that, despite the downturn in the economy, Park and Recreation revenues overall are only down by 0.8%. The Summer Camp program was a tremendous success, with all of the children having a wonderful experience. Camp Beechtree, for children entering kindergarten and first grade was up to 57 children, a substantial increase over previous years. An expanded Counselor in Training program has also been very successful. Total revenues were $170,788., with profits of $77,798.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that Council Rock School District has increased its fees for use of facilities. Costs for use of school rooms is now on a per use basis, adding significantly to the cost of certain ongoing programs such as men’s basketball and drivers ed.
The Board discussed possibly working more on joint ventures with Northampton, which is also facing the increased fees, or partnering with the District on some of its proposed programs. The members asked about use of facilities at the Community College.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that she has attempted to use facilities at the College, but it has been difficult to get an ongoing commitment for programs that run at the same time for a number of weeks. The college’s enrollment has gone up and classes are now scheduled throughout the evenings and weekends.
Mr. Grosso said that he has had similar difficulties with attempting to find basketball venues for CYO leagues.
Mr. Levine noted that it had been the Park and Recreation Board’s understanding that two community rooms in the new administration building will be designated for Park and Rec programming. With the increases in costs for use of school rooms, these rooms could help greatly with programming costs.
Mrs. Pawlenko noted that she has submitted a grant application for a cement floor for the Clark Nature Center barn. With a new floor, the barn could be used for some nature programs and for the Township’s scout organizations, which have also seen an increase in fees for use of school facilities. She noted that the cost of the floor would be an estimated $20,000.
Mrs. Pawlenko provided the Board members with copies of a draft field usage agreement and fee schedule for review and discussion at the next meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 9:15 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary