PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF FEBRUARY 3, 2010
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on February 3, 2010 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Chairman Andrew Levine, Vice Chairman Joel Grosso, Brian Bark Kathy Kelly and Buck O’Neill, members. Also in attendance was Kathy Pawlenko, Park and Recreation Director.
Call to Order: Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Grosso moved to approve the minutes of January 6, 2010. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
New Business: Mr. Levine said that he would like the members to consider priorities for the coming year. He said that with the Woll tract nearing completion and the restrooms ready for installation at Roberts Ridge, he would like the Park and Recreation Board to shift its focus to the Clark Nature Center. This is the Township’s centerpiece in its efforts to preserve open space, but without some attention it will be destroyed completely by erosion, deer damage and invasive species. To implement the plan proposed by The Heritage Conservancy in its evaluation would cost a great deal of money, however there were recommendations which could be undertaken to address some of the issues and possibly at least halt further damage. He said that perhaps clearing some of the trails and working with the Environmental Advisory Council on its wildlife management plan would be a good beginning. He asked the Board to consider developing a plan for the Clark Nature Center as a priority this year. He then asked the members for input on other priorities for the year.
Mr. Bark said that he would like to focus some attention of a financial model for reporting the Park and Recreation revenues and expenses. With the Board of Supervisors focusing on the Department’s self-sufficiency, it might be a good idea to be able to easily evaluate and report the Department’s efforts. He suggested seeking input from the Financial Planning Committee.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that a financial reporting model could be part of the Park and Recreation Comprehensive Plan Update. She noted that there is a grant in place to help with the update.
Mr. O’Neill asked whether the skate park is still a priority. He also asked about a proposal he had seen for a poured concrete park.
Mr. Levine said that the proposal had been reviewed by the Board of Supervisors but eliminated from consideration because it cannot be moved to expanded. The Board favors a park which can be adjusted and added to incrementally. A group of residents is working on fundraising efforts and bids have been requested for a concrete pad. He expected that the Park and Recreation Board would be expected to support the residents’ committee and become more involved as fundraising nears its goal.
Mr. Grosso said that he would suggest focusing on the continued maintenance and improvements of the existing fields and working with the Park and Recreation Department on a fee structure for field use by leagues and for tournaments. He noted that although the Woll tract is nearing completion but will not be ready for play until 2011, there are still a number of items to be addressed, including dugouts, scoreboards, use of the snack shed, park rules and naming of the park and the fields. He said that he would like the Park and Recreation Board to hold regular meetings, at least twice a year, with representatives of the sports leagues. He would like a stronger partnership between the Township and the sports organizations, with clearer understanding of the contributions each entity will make to field maintenance and improvement.
Mrs. Kelly said that she agreed with all of the priorities outlined by the other members. She suggested that these are all of equal importance.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that the Park and Recreation Department has a list of priorities which will need the help and support of the Board. She would like to address the field usage fees, particularly the tournament fees. She explained that the tournament fees collected by the Township are not adequate to cover the costs associated with these events. The participants are primarily non-residents paying a separate fee to participate in the tournaments.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that there are some concerns with erosion along the creek at Clark Nature Center. This could become dangerous if not addressed. She has also learned that the Township is being considered for a community development block grant for a concrete floor for the barn at the Clark property.
Mrs. Pawlenko mentioned that the Park and Recreation Comprehensive Plan must be updated using more recent census data. The Department will be looking to the Park and Recreation Board for this.
The Township’s insurance carrier is requiring some changes to the signage at the Township parks and playgrounds. She provided copies of some of the acceptable signage. The changes make clear the safety concerns, particularly when using the playground equipment incorrectly.
Mr. Levine reviewed all of the priorities outlined by the members and first suggested that a sub-committee work with the finance director and financial planning committee on Mr. Bark’s suggestion on reporting revenues.
Mr. Levine said that he would be reporting to the Board of Supervisors at the next regular meeting, at which time he would seek Board input on the Comprehensive Plan update. He noted that when the plan was originally prepared in 1999, members of the Park and Recreation Board, Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors worked with the Park and Recreation Department with the aid of a professional planner to evaluate the recreational needs of the community.
Mr. Levine also suggested that in the coming year the Park and Recreation Board might attempt to reach out to Wrightstown, Newtown Borough and Upper Makefield, as well as Council Rock School District on some cooperative ventures or co-sponsored programs and events.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report: Mrs. Pawlenko reported that she has been contacted by a resident asking that a dog park be installed at Roberts Ridge Park. She provided the resident with information on the County’s efforts to build a dog park at Core Creek and promised to inform the Park and Recreation Board of this resident’s suggestion.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the Department has seen a slight decrease in revenues compared to this time last year, but this can be attributed to the change in camp registration policy, which allows residents to register early but only pay 50% at registration. Camp registration has begun for residents. There have been a few complaints from non-residents about the increased fees.
The new community rooms are already being used for programs, which has helped with costs, as the School District has increased the fees for use of school spaces. The Department is trying to move more classes to these rooms, which include a small kitchen for cooking and baking classes.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that she has been working with Council Rock School District on a water resources education program. She has applied for a grant for a rain barrel program with the Bucks County Conservation District. The children will decorate the rain barrels and create brochures explaining their use and benefits.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that the Park and Recreation Department is still struggling to work some of the kinks out of the on-line registration program.
Mrs. Kelly moved to adjourn at 8:45 PM. Mr. O’Neill seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary