PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD
MINUTES OF MEETING OF MARCH 5, 2014
The Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board met on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 in the main meeting room. In attendance and voting were: members Denis D’Arcy (late), Joel Grosso, Mark Joseph, Kathy Kelly, Andrew Levine and Anne Porter. Also in attendance were Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko and Township Supervisor Jennifer Dix (late).
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM.
Reorganization of Board: Mrs. Kelly nominated Mr. Levine to serve as chairman. Ms. Porter seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Ms. Porter nominated Mr. Grosso to serve as vice chairman. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Approval of Minutes: Ms. Porter moved to accept the minutes of September 4 and October 6, 2013. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Joseph abstaining.
Council Rock A.C.H.I.E.V.E: John Engelhardt of Council Rock High School’s ACHIEVE program gave a brief PowerPoint presentation of his students, special needs men and women between 18 and 21, who are working on skills to prepare them for employment. Council Rock has created a college like atmosphere for the students and is teaching them to work in the community, partnering with local businesses. The program has placed students in jobs at St. Mary Medical Center, Wrightstown’s Food Shed Alliance and Council Rock Athletic Department.
Mr. Engelhardt said that he has been working with Mrs. Pawlenko to develop a plan to run the snack bar at Veterans Park during the sports seasons. The students will handle every aspect of the shack shed including purchasing and stocking the supplies, selling and handling money transactions. Volunteer parents will also participate in the program to insure that the shed can be open for evening and weekend games.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that to start the program she is recommending that only packaged snacks be sold the first season. Her own involvement will be similar to her involvement with the leagues running shack sheds in other parks. As with the leagues, a portion of the profits will be paid to the Township.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that the Park and Rec department will also be working with the students to maintain the herb garden through the summer.
Mr. Levine asked whether the sports organizations are aware of this snack shed arrangement, as they usually run snack bars in the parks.
Mrs. Pawlenko said that the other snack sheds are in parks used almost exclusively by one league, such as Chandler Fields for Little League and Helen Randle Park for Rock Softball. This park will have a number of different soccer leagues, Lacrosse and baseball using the fields and coordination of the snack shed would have been difficult. All of the leagues planning to use Veterans Park were very supportive of this plan.
Ms. Porter moved to approve running of the snack shed by Council Rock ACHIEVE students. Mr. Levine seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Levine thanked Mr. Engelhardt and also asked him to let the Board know if there is anything else they can do to help support this program.
(Mr. D’Arcy arrived at this point.)
Newtown Rose Investors, 29 Friends Lane: Jason Rose and Matthew Chartrand of Bohler Engineering were in attendance to review plans for a 2700 square foot addition to an existing 10,000 square foot office building in the Business Commons. The addition is to be used for office space for an expanded staff at the corporate offices of Applebee’s and Corner Bakery Café. The plan increases impervious surface by 4000 square feet.
Mr. Levine explained that the function of the Park and Recreation Board is to determine whether the Township should accept dedication of open space or accept a fee in lieu. As this project involves a small expansion of a business in the Business Commons, he thought a fee might be more appropriate.
Ms. Porter moved to recommend that the Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space for Newtown Rose Investors’ project. Mrs. Kelly seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Newtown Townhome PRD, Newtown Yardley Road: Kevin Reilly of County Builders was in attendance to review this plan for 56 townhouses on a 16 acre parcel in the R-2 Medium Density Zoning District. Mr. Reilly explained that this application has already been granted tentative approval by the Board of Supervisors; final plans are being reviewed at this time. He showed the plan and pointed out that the project leaves 50% of the land as open space where the Ordinance requires 40% open space. Most of the open space surrounds the rear yards of the townhouses, with 8% at the entrance area to be used as an informal playing field. Most of the buffer trees will remain between this property and Headley. The open area also abuts Raintree’s open space. All of the surrounding developments, Headley, Wiltshire Walk and Raintree are supportive of the plan. There is an agreement in place to share stormwater management with Wiltshire Walk. A sidewalk will connect the development with the Newtown Trail. He hopes to complete reviews and break ground this summer.
Mr. Levine asked whether County Builders is offering the open space for dedication to the Township.
Mr. Reilly said that the open space will belong to the homeowners association.
Ms. Porter asked about the proposed size of the townhouses and the target market.
Mr. Reilly said that they will be about 2500 square feet, with two car garages and three bedrooms. The price will probably be in the high $400,000 range, and will probably attract both young families and couples purchasing a first home and older couples downsizing.
Ms. Porter said that if the plan is to attract young families she would like to see more active recreation, such as a tot lot.
Mr. Reilly said that he would consider this as the plan progresses. He reviewed the landscape plan and said that if there is not room for all of the replacement trees on site, they would be planted at the Township’s direction in our parks.
Mrs. Kelly moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space for this development. Mr. Grosso seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
(Mrs. Dix arrived at this point.)
Mr. Reilly said that County Builders has recently purchased three elementary school properties from Centennial School District. Their playgrounds will be dismantled. Newtown is welcome to take the equipment for its parks. He would send the addresses to Mrs. Pawlenko for her to visit and evaluate.
Mr. Levine thanked Mr. Reilly for this generous offer.
Reports of Subcommittees
Helen Randle Park: Mrs. Pawlenko reported that the Eagle Scout project retaining wall and flagpole area has been completed.
Noah’s Playground: Mr. Levine explained to the Board that after presenting the plans for the playground to the Bucks County Planning Commission, he was told that the Municipal Open Space Program’s mission is the acquisition of open space. He, Township Manager Kurt Ferguson and Solicitor Jeffrey Garton, have been able to document that the owners of few undeveloped parcels remaining in the Township were not interested in selling conservation easements of deed restrictions. The amount of funds available is too little to purchase land outright in Newtown. Mr. Garton has helped to explain that the Township could not deed restrict Veterans Park, as it would complicate even simple construction such as bleachers. Instead, Mr. Garton has suggested deed restricting an area immediately around the playground. He will be presenting this to the County and hopefully will be awarded the matching funds.
Municipal Open Space Funds: Mrs. Dix asked for some details on the MOSP and the fundraising efforts for the playground.
Mr. Levine said that Newtown had been awarded $580,000 and had used a small portion for open space planning. The Cohen Family, the Park and Recreation Department and Board and Newtown Little League have together raised about $60,000 to be used as a match. In order to make the playground completely inclusive, the price of safety surfacing brings the total to about $220,000.
Mr. Levine explained that the Park and Recreation Board had discussed applying for some of the remaining funds for a fitness trail at Carl Sedia Park. There had been a trail at Carl Sedia some years ago, so the pad sites already exist. The only expenses would be purchase of the activities and installation. No engineering or site prep would be required. The Board had discussed purchasing outdoor exercise stations for adults and children along the trail.
Ms. Porter suggested that the Board look into replacing the fitness trail at Helen Randle Park as well. This old wooden fitness trail had been removed some years ago.
Mrs. Dix said that she had heard that the County is interested in funding trails and expanding the trail system county wide. She suggested investigating use of the PECO lines for trails.
Mr. Levine said that the Township has considered this a number of times to connect a greenway from the Taylor Farm, a County preserved farm, to Hidden Lake, Veterans Park, Clark Nature Center, Helen Randle and Tyler Park using the PECO lines for areas not in public parks. He has heard that in recent years PECO has been more open to use of this land, but he does not know this with certainty.
Ms. Porter said that she has dealt with PECO and Conrail in her law practice and feels that this could be a possibility.
The Board agreed to add trails to the April agenda and to review the most recent trail maps.
Board of Supervisors: Ms. Dix explained that she hopes to attend the Park and Rec meetings regularly and to volunteer as liaison. At the Board’s most recent meeting it reviewed a sketch plan for Meglio’s which involved purchase of the properties at 1 and 5 North Sycamore Street, renovating the existing houses for apartments and building an addition on 1 North Sycamore Street for a small retail site and the Meglio’s restaurant. Creek access was discussed as a possible part of the plan.
Environmental Advisory Council: Mrs. Pawlenko reported that she attended the last EAC meeting and urged the members to partner with the Park and Recreation Department to help promote their periodic environmental forums and to help jointly promote classes and programs dealing with topics of interest to members of the community such as organic gardening, bird watching and alternative energy. EAC has agreed to attend Earth Day with the Park and Rec Department.
Park and Recreation Director’s Report
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that she attended the most recent Historic Architectural Review Board meeting to discuss possibly co-sponsoring a program on historic preservation. The members seemed interested and indicated that many of the members are also members of the Joint Historic Commission and Newtown Historical Society and these groups might also be interested in partnerships.
Mrs. Pawlenko reminded the Board that the Township had been awarded 100,000 daffodil bulbs by Bucks Beautiful. They were planted, free of charge, by Dale’s Nursery at Silver Lake, Roberts Ridge, Veterans Park and Helen Randle Park at the entrances near the roads They are beginning to come up now and hopefully, within a few weeks we will see the flowers all over town. She will also be offering bulbs from Bucks Beautiful for sale in time for next fall’s planting season.
This year the Department will be offering a low cost, three week playground camp at Newtown Middle School. This is in response to many parents’ requests that they want some activity for their children but they do not need a full summer camp experience. The playground camp will offer supervised play and activities, but will be half day only with no trips off-site. So far registration for this camp has been good.
The Department will hold Camp Beechtree for preschoolers at Shir Ami this year. This is a much better match, as Shir Ami has outdoor playgrounds and better spaces for small people. This year has also seen a jump in teen camp enrollment and a special needs multi-day program.
Mrs. Pawlenko reported that over 65 people attended the Miraculous Escapes program, which dealt with the experiences of a family which escaped the Holocaust. Because of its success, the Department is interested in researching other lecture topics for future programs.
Mr. Levine said that the Board was very saddened by the recent death of former Board member Michael Clancy. He has discussed donating a bench in Mike’s memory to be placed at Veterans Park. The members agreed to contribute to the bench, which would be inscribed in memory of Michael Clancy and would recognize his vision in the planning of Veterans Park.
The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary