PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF FEBRUARY 1, 2012
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 7:00 PM in the Township meeting room. In attendance and voting were Chairman Andrew Levine, Denis D’Arcy, Kathy Kelly, Mark McMenamin, Brendan McQuillan and Sue Sutton, members. Also present was Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko and Police Chief Henry Pasqualini.
Call to Order: Mr. Levine called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM
Security Cameras in Parks: Chief Pasqualini said that the Department regularly patrols the parks and has increased its patrols since the vandalism at Roberts Ridge last spring. He credited the Department and particularly Detective Bush with solving the crime. Restitution will be made. The Department has answered 47 calls to the Township parks in the past month.
The Township budget and the Township’s insurance carrier, DVIT will fund a pilot security program for Roberts Ridge, with solar powered lights and a camera system. In response to questions from the Board members, Chief Pasqualini explained that there is no power source in the park, limiting the choices for lights and cameras. Both will only operate after dark and are motion activated. When activated by motion, a signal is sent to the patrol cars. The system can distinguish between human activity and wildlife.
Mr. Levine asked about the insurance carrier’s contribution.
Chief Pasqualini explained that DVIT will pay for one camera. DVIT is very proactive with security and training and will make this contribution to help prevent crimes in the parks. He stressed that the camera will only be activated at night when activated by motion; this is not constant video surveillance. The image produced will capture the time and number of people in view and send the information to the patrol cars which are equipped with computers and air cards. There is not enough power available from the solar panel to power the lights or camera during the day. He expects to have the system in place by July.
Mrs. Sutton said that the residents living near the park will be very pleased that something is being done to prevent further vandalism.
Chief Pasqualini said that he would like similar systems in all of the parks; those parks that have power sources could have better systems. This is a pilot, only.
Spartan Cricket Club: Amar Kulkarni and Sanjay Shetye were in attendance to request the use of a Township park for a cricket pitch. Spartan Cricket Club is one of 70 cricket clubs within a 40 mile radius. The club currently has no home field.
Mr. Shetye provided the Board with a booklet which highlighted the history and rules of cricket, and some information about cricket in the greater Philadelphia area. The club would need less than one acre for a pitch and surrounding viewing areas. The games are played on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM in spring and fall. The club has money to pay for installation of the pitch and a small storage shed for equipment.
Mrs. Sutton asked whether the club would need a club house or viewing stands.
Mr. Kulkarni said that the members bring pop-up tents and lawn chairs. The only permanent structure would be the shed.
Mr. Levine asked about the speed of the ball as he was concerned about possible injuries.
Mr. Kulkarni said that the ball is very fast, going between 90 and 150 mph, however the balls are aimed low. Spectators view from a safe distance. The club carries its own insurance, as well. Right now the club is only for men’s cricket, but if the group had its own home pitch, they would like to start youth programs and instructional camps.
Mrs. Pawlenko suggested that two possible areas where the pitch could be installed are in Silver Lake Park and in the open field area originally outlined for tennis at Veterans Park. She would want to have an agreement that no games would take place in wet conditions, to avoid damage to the fields.
Mr. Shetye said that the group would agree to such a condition. He said that using a portion of Veterans Park could be very good because it has so many fields for youth sports; the children would see Cricket and it might bring a new generation to the sport.
The members all agreed that they would be supportive of the Club’s use of Township fields, and expressed preference for Veterans Park.
Mr. Levine said that the Club would need the support of the Board of Supervisors. He would ask to speak to the Supervisors about this at a future work session. He would also like to contact the neighbor nearest the suggested area of Veterans Park for his support.
Mr. Kulkarni said that installation of the pitch could take as long as three weeks; the season begins in early April.
Mr. Levine said that the Park and Recreation Board is meeting with the Supervisors on February 13 to discuss use of Veterans Park. Youth sports league representatives will also be in attendance. Perhaps, since the agenda will be dealing with use of the park, the Spartans could be added to the Park and Recreation presentation.
Mr. Kulkarni and Mr. Sheyye agreed to attend the Supervisors meeting and to provide Mr. Levine with additional information about Newtown residents who participate in the club in advance of the meeting
Noah’s Playground: Jason and Natalie Cohen were in attendance to update the Board on their fundraising efforts for a playground in Veterans Park dedicated to their son Noah’s memory.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that Terri Lee of the Pennsylvania School of Performing Arts has offered to partner with the Cohen Foundation on fundraising through her school’s performance of Madeline at Bucks County Community College. She had expected Ms. Lee to attend the meeting.
Mrs. Cohen said that she would be appreciative of any efforts to help with fundraising and would meet with Ms. Lee and Mrs. Pawlenko privately. She said that the charity has raised over $46,000 for the playground.
Mr. Levine said that although this should be enough for the equipment, there are additional costs associated with installation, including engineering, safety surfacing and installation. These could be double the cost of the equipment. He asked the recording secretary to remind the Board of the County’s Municipal Open Space program.
The recording secretary said that in 2007 Bucks County started a Municipal Open Space program which allocated each municipality an amount for preservation of open space. This is a matching fund, requiring an outlay from the participating municipality. She believed that Newtown’s allocation was about $570,000. She said that the Township had formed a committee to update its open space plan with Mrs. Sutton and Mr. Levine representing the Park and Recreation Board. Newtown has only sought re-imbursement of a small portion of the funds for the work on the plan; she estimated that amount to be about $5,000. She said that it was her recollection that the funds could be used for acquisition of open space or for enhancement of existing municipally owned preserved open space. Perhaps the Board could research whether this County fund could be tapped for the balance of the project.
Mr. Levine said that he also recalled that municipalities could request funds for improvements, but he would need to research this further.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that she would contact the County about this; she is also investigating a grant from DCNR. She said that her understanding is that in both instances the Township would have to match the grant money.
Mr. Cohen said that if grant money were a possibility, the Cohen Foundation could make a grant to the Township of the matching funds required.
Mr. McQuillan said that he would work with the Cohens on the playground planning.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that compared to January 2011, this year has seen Park and Recreation revenues increase by almost $7,000 and participation by almost 100 more people. Camp registration will begin in February, with early registration rates in effect until mid-April. This year the Department is testing an early enrollment deposit which might help families with tight finances and will help the Department gauge expected enrollment. The winter “tea parties” have been a tremendous best seller for the Department.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that there had been some difficulties with scheduling fields for summer baseball camps which have been resolved. She thanked Mr. Levine for his help with this.
The department is preparing plans for the installation of the fencing at the skate park. It will be a black 8 foot cyclone fence. There have been no complaints about the skate park all winter. Additional trash cans have been placed at the park.
The Department is investigating timed locks for park restrooms so that they can be opened and locked more easily.The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary