PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF JANUARY 6, 2010
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on January 6, 2010 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Andrew Levine, Joel Grosso, Brian Bark (late), Kathy Kelly, Buck O’Neill and Susan Sutton, members. Also in attendance were Kathy Pawlenko, Park and Recreation Director and Robert Ciervo, Township Supervisor.
Call to Order: Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
Reorganization of Board: Mrs. Sutton nominated Mr. Levine to serve as chairman. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Levine abstaining.
Mrs. Kelly nominated Mr. Grosso to serve as vice-chairman. Mr. Levine seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
New Business: Mrs. Pawlenko provided copies of the field usage fees and open space land development fees which were part of the fee schedule adopted by the Board of Supervisors at its organization meeting. She said that the new fees for field usage would not be enforced until June, to accommodate sports leagues which have already begun their spring registrations. She noted that she would like the Park and Recreation Board to consider a greater increase in the security deposit collected for tournaments, as it is currently not adequate to cover the costs incurred by the Township during these events. She suggested that it might be a good idea to form a study group, made up of Park and Recreation Board members and representatives of the leagues, to review the work contributed by the leagues to field maintenance and fees charged by neighboring municipalities.
Mr. Levine suggested reviewing the arrangement Newtown Borough has with Little League for the maintenance of Pickering Field.
Mr. Grosso said that Little League has a three year contract to maintain Pickering Field. A landscaping contractor is hired for grass cutting and fertilizing; volunteers do all other work. He suggested including the baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse and St. Andrew’s CYO representatives in any group formed to evaluate field usage fees.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that she would like to address tournament fees first, since these involve non-residents who are paying the leagues large registration fees.
Dr. Ciervo said that he had been under the impression that field usage fees were not to have been in the new fee schedule adopted at the reorganization meeting of the Board of Supervisors. The Board is also still considering its assumption of any costs involved in the Woll/Helen Randle field swap between Little League and Softball. It had been his understanding that both matters would be discussed at a future work session. He is not sure whether the field usage fees are, in fact, officially adopted. He will speak to the Township Manager about this.
(Mr. Bark arrived)
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Grosso moved to accept the minutes of November 11, 2009. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Skate Park: Dr. Ciervo said that the skate park committee has been researching pads for the park and learned that a concrete pad could be installed for considerably less than an asphalt pad. Committee member Michael Iapalucci has been in touch with one concrete company which estimated that a pad could be installed for about $22,500. He said that the committee will be in touch with Spohn Ranch about the specifications and to confirm that concrete would be acceptable for an outdoor park in our climate. He said that the committee is hoping to have a pad installed in the early spring. Once installed, it might help to show that this project will be built and will help with fundraising efforts. The committee is trying to raise $15,000, which the Township will match with a 4 to 1 ratio.
Recreation Website: Mrs. Pawlenko said that the Website, www.newtownfun.com is now accepting on-line registration with credit card payments, but she did not have exact numbers yet. Working with the site has been tedious and the employees are learning how to use it to generate reports and enter information. She said she is optimistic that once the department has adjusted to the site and to the different style of report the site generates, things will improve. She provided a sample copy of a report generated by the site. She noted that part of the difficulty for the department is that training has been by telephone.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Program Update: Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the Recreation Department had $416,210.40 in revenue in 2009, a 0.9% decrease from 2008. There was a corresponding decrease in participation. She said that the department is very pleased that participation in recreation programs remained relatively steady in the current economy.
The winter brochures were mailed today to the 18940 zip code using newsprint for the inside pages, maintaining the cover and Township identity. This change brought a significant savings in printing costs.
Summer Camps: Mrs. Pawlenko reported that she has received some complaints about the increased cost of the camps this year. She has added a two payment incentive allowing families to pay 50% at early registration to qualify for the early registration discount. She is hoping this will help families enrolling more than one child. Some non-residents have been disappointed in the increase in non-resident enrollment costs, which have been increased to 25%. Official registration begins on January 25 for residents and February 16 for non-residents.
Parks: Mrs. Pawlenko reviewed conditions at the Township parks, noting some repairs needed for the playing fields at Helen Randle Park. She has been working to get the compost toilet installed at Roberts Ridge Park, but ran into difficulty with the proposed location, as the contractor indicated he would not be able to use his crane at the site.
Mr. Bark said he would contact someone he knows who has a crane operating business. Perhaps they can work out a location closer to the playground.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the Candy Cane Hunt was a tremendous success thanks to the Department, the Public Works Department and the Fire Department, which all worked on the event. Summer camp counselors also volunteered to work at the event.
Other Business: Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the Park and Recreation Comprehensive Plan will need to be updated in the next few years.
Mr. Levine recalled that when the plan was first drafted, members of the Planning Commission, Park and Recreation Board and Board of Supervisors participated but a professional planner was also involved.
Capital Planning: Dr. Ciervo said that the Board of Supervisors and Financial Planning Committee would like to see the Park and Recreation Department become self sufficient.
Mr. Levine expressed some concern that there is not a uniform formula for determining self-sufficiency. The recreation programs and camps are self-sufficient but the calculation does not include the three staff members’ salaries and benefits.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Public Works budget for park maintenance has been removed from the Park and Recreation budget. This should help bring the department closer to self-sufficiency.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the Township is being considered for a grant to pave the floor of the Clark barn. If the grant is received the barn could be made available for programs and for groups such as scout troops.
Dr. Ciervo said that the lease on the Clark house will not be renewed. The Board is considering possibly looking for a tenant to lease the house in exchange for work to maintain or improve the property in a caretaker arrangement.
Resident Ann Porter said that she has drafted such lease agreements elsewhere. Langhorne Borough leases a house in its park in exchange for caretaker duties.
Board of Supervisors: Dr. Ciervo reported that the Board of Supervisors has discussed possibly expanding the Park and Recreation Board to nine members. He asked whether the current Board would be supportive of an expanded membership.
Mr. Levine said that some of the current Board’s members are also active in soccer, boys baseball and lacrosse. It might be helpful to have members with involvement in other community sports leagues.
Mrs. Sutton said that the current group has been together a very long time and works very well, but new members would be welcome.
The members all agreed that two new appointees could be very helpful, particularly if they had involvement with softball other sports organizations.
Environmental Advisory Council: Mr. Levine reported that the EAC chairman had been in contact with him about wildlife management. The EAC has been investigating whether to recommend to the Board of Supervisors to attempt a management program which might involve controlling the deer herd. If a hunt were ever to be recommended it would involve the Township’s parks and open space and would require some input from the Park and Recreation Board. Mr. Levine suggested that as the EAC nears completion of its study a joint meeting might be planned.
The Board members agreed that the deer are causing significant damage to the parks and open space, as well as being a danger to motorists. The Park and Recreation Board members agreed they would support the decisions of the EAC.
Mr. Levine suggested that at future meetings the Board discuss working together with Upper Makefield and Wrightstown on jointly sponsored programs and events. He also suggested working with Council Rock School District on some programming.
Mr. Levine asked the members to begin thinking about goals and priorities for the coming year. This can be discussed at the February meeting.
Mrs. Sutton moved to adjourn at 8:45 PM. Mr. Bark seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary