Part III: Uncovering the Borough
NEWTOWN BOROUGH, Pa. -- Having documented Newtown Borough as a “built-out” town with some open-space sites that could be enhanced, the borough’s Open Space and Connectivity Plan next laid out ways to protect open areas and then made a prioritized list of projects.
The recently released plan was put together by, among others, borough council and its Environmental Advisory Council.
“The intention behind this document is to build upon the proud history of our community, and enhance the uniquely rich historical and aesthetic context of our community for future generations to come,” according to the plan.
There are a number of legal and regulatory options to protect open space, said the plan. Among the strategies, it said, are a “fee simple” purchase (outright purchase of a property); conservation and access easements (restrictions on a property against development and other activities); lease agreement (specific use and access rights to a property for a given period), and zoning ordinance resource protection (revisions to zoning codes for environmental protection).
“The most straightforward method of securing open space protection is outright purchase of the property by the Borough,” said the plan. “This method gives the Borough absolute control over the use and conservation of the property.”
The study then put together a list of “highest priority” short-term projects that should be “actively pursued for funding and/or partnership opportunities.” A total of 20 projects were listed; about half of them tagged as a Number One priority.
Two were in the Newtown Creek North section: “Riparian Buffer Plantings” along the creek. (“Encourage property owners,” it said, “to restore and revegetate.”), and a “Pedestrian Connection” from Newtown Common to Steeple View. (“Develop detailed designs for this by-pass connection through downtown,” it said.)
The report next recommended working with the developer at Steeple View to integrate a number of items including a “decorative crosswalk” at the end of a path at Centre Avenue, as well as facilities like bike repair stations, seating and bike racks should be incorporated in the development. Another recommendation was to establish a nature preserve and “pursue discussions” with the owners of the vacant Delta School parcels and the Adamusko Pugh property to acquire areas not suitable for development. Then it recommended development of items like a nature trail, ecological preservation and native riparian buffer plantings.
The Newtown Rail Trail was recommended with CVS, as well as a relationship with the landowners to consider subdivision or easement of the parcel. “Coordination with the County and SEPTA will be required to implement connections to the Newtown Rail Trail,” it said.
Pickering Field Playground also was tagged (asses facilities, prioritize additional amenities), as was Patriots Park (needed is signage to direct visitors there from State Street).
Three “connectivity enhancements” were given top priority: first, a N. Lincoln Ave.-N. Elm Ave. connector. “Coordinate with Newtown Artesian Water Co. and adjacent property owners to obtain easements for a walkway between the two streets,” said the plan. It suggested a minimum five-foot wide walkway with fencing and/or vegetation. The second enhancement was for a Frost Lane sidewalk. A 1,250-foot sidewalk should be built along the north side of the street between N. Lincoln and Edgeboro Drive, said the plan. And the third: a Newtown Cemetery sidewalk. It suggested a 1,130-foot sidewalk along the cemetery’s frontage on S. Elm Ave. and Penn St.
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