PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF OCTOBER 6, 2010
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on October 6, 2010 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Chairman Andrew Levine, Vice Chairman Joel Grosso, Brian Bark, Mark McMenamin (late), Ann Porter and Susan Sutton, 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: Mrs. Sutton moved to approve the minutes of September 1, 2010. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Veterans Park Eagle Scout Projects: Ryan Varian of Troop 99, his father, Mike Varian and Jim Casey of the American Legion were in attendance to review some changes to Mr. Varian’s proposed Eagle Scout Project. After meeting with Engineer Sharon Dotts of Gilmore & Associates, the plans were changed to now have a wall at the entrance to the park at Durham Road with an American Flag, a flag at the Wrights Road entrance and a flag representing a branch of the United States Armed Services at each field. The flags will have telescoping 20 foot high poles set in a 3 foot deep concrete footing with a PVC sleeve to hold the pole in place.
Mr. Levine asked whether Mr. Varian would have enough support for such an ambitious project.
Mr. Varian said that his troop and the American Legion have been very enthusiastic in their support for the project. He is confident this will continue. He will need to raise $6000 for the project.
Mr. Casey said that the American Legion will replace weathered flags as needed.
Mr. Varian explained that the poles will have pin locks to prevent any vandalism. He has already discussed this with the Public Works Department.
Mr. Levine asked if there is any protocol for displaying the flags.
Mr. Casey said that only the American flag must be lit if displayed at night. Solar lights will be used to light the American flag. It is permissible to leave the other flags unfurled without lights.
Mr. Levine said that if this Board approves of the changes, he would like to present the concept to the Board of Supervisors this month so that Mr. Varian can move forward with his plans.
Ms. Porter moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this project. Mr. Bark seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
(Mr. McMenamin arrived at this point.)
Andy Sobol of Troop 99 presented a plan to build a storage shed at Veterans Park to be used for storage of field maintenance equipment.
Mr. Grosso suggested that Mr. Sobol meet with Public Works and representatives of Little League to determine the best location for the shed
Mr. Sobol said that he has been provided with a plan of the park by Mrs. Pawlenko and has discussed some preliminary ideas with the Public Works department. The proposed shed will be built from a kit. It is 8 feet by 10 feet. He is not sure whether it will have a window. His budget is $1600.
Mr. Levine expressed some concern that three different Eagle Scout projects will be competing for the same fundraising.
Mr. Sobol said that the scout leaders attempt to diversify the fundraising programs so as to not be in competition.
Mr. Grosso suggested that since the project will benefit Little League he should see if there are is a possibility of joint fundraising opportunities.
Mr. Grosso moved to approve this project. Mr. McMenamin seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Skate Park Eagle Scout Project: Chris Davis was in attendance to review his Eagle Scout project, signs and a bench for the new skate park. He has worked with the Skate Park committee and Mrs. Pawlenko to create a sign, as required by the Township insurer, which will outline the safety rules for use of the park. The wording is being reviewed by the Police Chief and Township Solicitor. The second sign will have the Newtown Township Skate Park and recognition of donors and Township officials. Each sign will be 3 feet by 5 feet. The proposed bench, made of recycled plastic, will be similar to the Helen Randle Park bench. Mr. Davis will install the signs and bench. He said that his budget is $800. A portion of the budget has already been committed by the Skate Park Committee.
Mrs. Pawlenko confirmed that the installation should be completed before the park opens to the public. Mr. Davis has been working directly with the Codes Department on permits.
Ms. Porter suggested a few changes to the wording on the safety sign to more clearly state certain prohibitions, such as “no bikes, no food.”
Mr. Levine suggested that, since some of the rules are specifically required by the insurance carrier, Ms. Porter should speak to the Solicitor if she has concerns about the wording.
Ms. Porter moved to approve this project. Mrs. Sutton seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Smoke Free Park Signage: Mrs. Pawlenko provided the Board with three sample signs as proposed by the representatives of Council Rock Coalition for Healthy Youth.
The members reviewed the signs and agreed that they favored the sign with the red circle with the line through it.
Mr. Levine said that it is very important that the signs do not say “no smoking,” since this is voluntary and cannot be enforced.
Mr. Grosso expressed some concern that the prohibition, even if voluntary, could lead to confrontations.
After some further discussion, the members agreed that if the signs are saying, “thank you for your cooperation” and “help keep this park smoke free” the program is voluntary and it clearly will not be enforced, but it could discourage smoking, while not prohibiting it
Mr. Bark moved to approve the smoke free park sign with the red circle and line through the cigarette. Ms. Porter seconded and the motion passed 5-0-1, with Mr. Grosso abstaining.
Mr. Grosso and Mrs. Sutton urged the Park and Recreation Board to carefully locate the signs so as to avoid “sign pollution” in the parks.
Reports of Sub-committees
Helen Randle Park: Mr. Levine reported that there have been two recent requests to plant memorial trees in Helen Randle Park. He suggested that the Park and Recreation Board develop a list of pre-approved trees, so that when such requests are received, the procedure can be simplified and worked out with Mrs. Pawlenko.
Mr. McMenamin said that he has a lot of experience in landscape architecture and also volunteers his time at Helen Randle Park on field maintenance and improvements. He would prepare a list of trees of different varieties which could be planted in the park.
Mrs. Sutton said that some time ago the former Open Space Committee had developed a concept for plaques for memorial trees. She would look into that research so that memorials could be uniformly identified.
Skate Park: Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the skate park plans are rapidly moving forward and the grand opening is scheduled for October 31, 2010.
Field Usage Fees: Mr. Levine said that there have been recent discussions among the various leagues’ representatives saying that if the league is expected to maintain the fields they want some credit on the fees. The leagues are willing to pay fees if the fees are earmarked specifically toward maintenance of the fields used by those leagues.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that the Township had voted to raise fees in 2010, but because of the timing of the new fees, she held fees at the 2009 rate, so as not to impact those leagues which had already begun registration. She has been instructed by the Township that she is to begin collecting the 2010 rates beginning in January.
Mr. Levine suggested that this might require a public discussion with the Board of Supervisors.
Senior Fitness: Mrs. Sutton reported that she will be attending a grant workshop in January of 2011. It is her understanding from State Representative Santarsiero that Newtown would possibly be eligible for grants after the completion of the update to the Recreation Comprehensive Plan.
Mr. Levine said that there might be some support available from local businesses.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that St. Mary Medical Center has a grant program that the would look into for this project.
Comprehensive Plan Update
Mr. Levine said that Heritage Conservancy will work on this with additional help from Bill Wert. Heritage Conservancy has recommended a twelve member committee, with representation from the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, Finance Department and Township Administration as well as from the Park and Recreation Board. A resident should also participate. He would include this in his report to the Board of Supervisors later in the month.
Member Comment: Mr. McMenamin reported that fields 2 and 6 had been damaged this past weekend by cars driving and creating ruts.
Mr. Levine said that he would include this in his report to the Supervisors. He would like the Township to have a policy of pursuing vandals both criminally and civilly.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mrs. Pawlenko said that she had spoken to the Police Chief about this. There was also some vandalism in the Roberts Ridge restroom. She has begun investigating some solar lampposts and electronic locks for the restrooms.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the Department now has an intern, Jeff Valli, from Temple University. He is working on a presentation for the Park and Rec Board about marketing the Department through Facebook. He is also working on a scout program brochure and department process sheets.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that one of the scout Eagle projects, “buy a brick”, for Veterans Park, has been canceled. It was to have been bricks etched with names of veterans placed on a walkway leading to the snack shed. She and Mr. Crossland are investigating running the project through the Township instead.
Mr. McMenamin said that he would like to volunteer to help with installation. It is not difficult and he could organize help to build the walk.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the Department has seen a drop in revenue and participation this year. The low cost programs continue to be successful, but the drop in camp participation and non-resident participation has hurt. She is concerned because the Supervisors and financial planning committee are asking to see increases in more costly programs and they have been unwilling to reconsider the surcharge for non-residents.
Ms. Porter said that the loss of revenue from non-residents is not being made up by the additional fee from those non-residents who do participate in programs. She felt that the Department will lose too much money, especially in camps, if the non-resident fee is not rolled back to previous years’ rates.
Mr. Bark agreed. He urged Mr. Levine to speak to the Supervisors about this. All of the members were in agreement that the additional fees made the classes cost prohibitive to non-residents. Without participation of Borough, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown residents, some small programs have been canceled.
Mrs. Pawlenko shared some books of new playground equipment for consideration at the Noah Cohen memorial playground in Veterans Park.
Mrs. Pawlenko showed a photo of the Wally Morrell memorial bench to be installed at Helen Randle Park. The bench will be engraved with a favorite saying of Mr. Morrell, “take it easy.”
Mrs. Sutton moved to adjourn at 9:00 PM. Mr. Bark seconded and the motion passed 6-0.