Community/senior center a step closer to reality
LOWER MAKEFIELD - The building of a long-awaited township community center, which will be also be used by senior citizens, is one step closer to reality.
At the Sept. 19 meeting, the /RweU 0DkefieOd 6uSeUvLVRUV, LQ D 4-0 vRWe, DSSURved EuLOdLQJ WKe proposed facility on the Samost tract located near the intersection of Oxford Valley and Edgewood roads.
The partially-wooded 25-acre township-owned site currently KRuVeV VeveUDO VRIWEDOO DQd EDVeEDOO fieOdV, DV weOO DV D wDWeU WRwer. It sits across the road from the municipal building, library and pool.
“The Samost tract is the best way to go,” said chairman Pete 6WDLQWKRUSe EeIRUe WKe vRWe. “,W’V the tract that makes the most sense.”
Vice-chairman Daniel McLaughlin agreed, explaining that he changed his mind from considering the 2.87-acre Veterans Square site on Edgewood Road near Mirror Lake Road as the best choice.
“,I WKeUe’V JRLQJ WR Ee FKLOdUeQ and seniors using the center then the Veterans Square site is not the best,” McLaughlin noted, citing WKe KeDvLeU WUDIfiF LQ WKDW DUeD.
But Stainthorpe told the meeting, which was packed with supSRUWLve VeQLRU FLWL]eQV, WKDW WKe VuSeUvLVRUV weUe RQOy FRQVLdeULQJ the site selection, not the actually building design and the number of parking spaces needed.
“7Key’OO Ee SOeQWy RI RSSRUWunity for comment on that as this WKLQJ PRveV DORQJ,’ Ke VDLd.
$IWeU WKe uQDQLPRuV vRWe, PRVW of the seniors attending the twohour meeting applauded the decision to build the center at Sa- most. The site is near where the VeveUDO-KuQdUed PePEeU /RweU 0DkefieOd 6eQLRUV JURuS FuUUeQWOy PeeWV DW WKe WRwQVKLS EuLOdLQJ’V board room on Edgewood Road.
“6eQLRUV DUe uQdeU VeUved LQ WKLV community,” Stainthorpe noted, “The township building is inadequate [for them].”
6eveUDO RI WKe VuSeUvLVRUV DOVR pointed out that the township spends recreation funds for softEDOO DQd VRFFeU fieOdV uVed PRVWOy by the younger residents.
“We KDve PRQey DQd VRPe RI the money should go to seniors,” 0F/DuJKOLQ VDLd. “We’Ue JRLQJ to do a better job allocating that money.”
After years of putting off buildLQJ WKe RIWeQ-WLPeV FRQWURveUVLDO facility, the township decided to proceed with the project after 6WDWe 5eS. 6Weve 6DQWDVLeUR (D31) acquired a $1-million state redeveORSPeQW JUDQW ODVW yeDU.
Under the terms of the grant, /RweU 0DkefieOd LV UeTuLUed to put up at least $1-million in matching funds to build the center wLWKLQ WKe Qe[W five yeDUV.
“We want to get the most bang for our buck,” Stainthorpe said. “WKeQ yRu’Ue ORRkLQJ DW D EuLOding like this it sounds like a lot of PRQey, EuW LW’V QRW.”
According to Stainthorpe, the community/senior center can be built without raising taxes.
/DVW yeDU, WKe VuSeUvLVRUV DSpointed a special site-selection committee to look at a number of possible locations on townshipowned land.
The committee included township manager Terry Fedorchak, former township engineer James 0DMewVkL, DV weOO DV five RWKeU PePEeUV UeSUeVeQWLQJ VeveUDO township committees, such as the planning commission and parks and recreation board.
2veU WKe ODVW VeveQ PRQWKV, WKe JURuS PeeW VeveUDO WLPeV. ,W deFLded WR wRUk wLWK five VSeFLfiF ]RQLQJ UeTuLUePeQWV, VuFK DV D PLQLPuP five-DFUe ORW VL]e, RQe SDUkLQJ VSDFe IRU eveUy WKUee VeDWV SURvLded DQd WKe SURSRVed building had to be 300 foot wide with a 100 foot setback. The cenWeU wRuOd DOVR KDve WR Ee D SeUPLWted use on the land.
,Q FRQVLdeULQJ WKe vDULRuV ORFDtions, the site-selection committee used a template of a building roughly 10,160 square feet with at least 63 parking spaces.
HRweveU, WRwQVKLS RIfiFLDOV now indicate that funding limitations will most likely restrict the planned facility to no larger than 7,000 square feet.
7Ke vROuQWeeU FRPPLWWee ORRked DW 13 SRWeQWLDO VLWeV, LQFOudLQJ )Lve 0LOe WRRdV, 0DFFOeVfieOd 3DUk DQd Qe[W WR WKe YDUdOey-0DkefieOd Branch of the Bucks County Free Library near the township building. Most of those locations were deemed “unsuitable.”
In February, the committee chose four sites, but could not reach a consensus on which one should top the list.
Besides the Samost Tract, the fiQDO FKRLFeV weUe: WKe EDUQ DUeD on the 216-acre Patterson Farm on Mirror Lake Road, the 34-acre Snipes parcel at Quarry and Dolington roads and Veterans Square Park in Edgewood Village.
8VLQJ WKe FRPPLWWee’V UeFRPmendations as a guide, the township commissioned its consultLQJ eQJLQeeULQJ fiUP, BRuFKeU & James, Inc., in Doylestown to come up with its own recommended locations.
7Ke fiUP’V -udLWK GROdVWeLQ made a presentation at Wednesday QLJKW’V VuSeUvLVRUV’ PeeWLQJ RuWlining the pros and cons of each of the four sites. She concluded that Samost was the best choice because of its central location and proximity to the township complex.
$FFRUdLQJ WR GROdVWeLQ, uWLOLWy and sewer hookups for a building there would also be easier, DOWKRuJK VeveUDO ]RQLQJ vDULDQFeV would be required and the facilLWy’V FORVeQeVV WR UeVLdeQFeV PLJKW spark some opposition.
During the public comment peULRd, VeveUDO DUeD KRPeRwQeUV dLd
did express concerns over what they Vay iV a Sarking and traffic SroblemV aVVociated with the ball fieldV at the Vite, eVSecially when there are Voftball tournamentV VSonVored by the nonSrofit PennVbury Athletic AVVociation.
But long-time townVhiS reVident Virginia Torbert of Yardley-Newtown Road commended the VuServiVorV for itV deciVion deVSite the oSSoVition.
“, VymSathize with the neighborV,” Vhe Vaid. “But , think it’V unrealiVtic to exSect that becauVe you live in the townVhiS there iV going to be no more change.”
Other reVidentV commented on whether it’V a good idea for a community center to be couSled with a municiSal Sark.
“Some of the beVt SarkV ,’ve been to [in thiV country] had a commu- nity center alongVide,” Slanner Judith GoldVtein reVSonded.
AV far aV the total coVt of the Sroject, Zachary Rubin of Covington Road queVtioned whether the townVhiS’V $1-million matching contribution iV enough money to build an adequatelyVized center.
“There Vhould be a needV-aVVeVVment and coVt-benefit analyViV, Rubin adviVed. “You Vhould not be limited to VSending $1 million.”
BecauVe of the currently low interest rates, he suggested that the townVhiS look at iVVuing bondV to Say for a more exSanded center.
“,f you’re going to build a center do it right,” Rubin Vaid. “There’V money out there.”
Meanwhile, SuServiVor Jeffrey Benedetto waV unable to attend the meeting.
,n hiV abVence, Dr. Helen Heinz of the townVhiS hiVtorical commiVVion Sublicly read a Vtatement from Benedetto, in which he criticized the VuServisors for denying his request to postSone conVideration of the community center until he could attend.
Benedetto, who wrote that he favored either the Veterans Square or SniSeV ViteV, imSlied that the VuServiVorV’ denial of hiV requeVt to delay the iVVue waV “Solitically motivated.”
Chairman StainthorSe diVagreed, Vaying that the Vite Velection SroceVV waV “being done tranVSarently,” but declined further comment becauVe Benedetto waV not there.
More Sublic hearingV are Slanned involving the building’V deVign and Sarking VSaceV.
Final SlanV and zoning variance requeVtV alVo will have to be conVidered by the townVhiS Slanning commiVVion and zoning hearing board aV well.