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Guest Opinion: Steve Bacher’s Position on the Environment and Marijuana

Guest Opinion: Steve Bacher’s Position on the Environment and Marijuana | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Bacher says: "We candidates in the Democratic congressional primary should talk about issues, not each other. I am running a positive, issue-based campaign. You can view detailed positions on more than a dozen issues at https://www.stevebacher.com/issue.

For example, the Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal is featured prominently on my website. It is a specific, bipartisan proposal to put a fee on carbon emissions and send the money back to American households as a monthly dividend.

Fellow Democratic Party candidate Scott Wallace has said publicly that there’s “not much daylight” between us. Not true. My environment page addresses several facets of environmental policy on which my opponents are silent. For example, we should ban fracking, which poisons our water and air.

I support legalizing marijuana for recreational and medicinal use. The other candidates don’t address this issue. A majority of American adults have used marijuana. Most have purchased it through someone with a connection to organized crime gangs.

It’s time to legalize it, regulate it, allow purchase through specially-licensed retail outlets like liquor stores and tax it.

Legalizing it will reduce the likelihood that users are exposed to other, more harmful drugs offered in the black market. Early studies are showing that places where marijuana is legal have lower incidence of opioid abuse."

 

Also read:

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Long time former Newtown resident, environmentalist, and 1st Congressional District Candidate Steve Bacher discusses environmental issues of concern to Newtown residents as well as his opposition to the 287g program, in which local police are trained to act as immigration officers. http://bit.ly/BacherPodcast 

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Newtown Area News
These Scoops are excerpts from articles published in local newspapers and other sources. Please click on the "From" link to access the full original article. Any opinions and "insights" appended to these article summaries are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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E30 "Curative Amendment" Timeline Discussion at 8 July 2020 BOS Meeting

E30 "Curative Amendment" Timeline Discussion at 8 July 2020 BOS Meeting | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

At the July 8, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Township Solicitor Dave Sander attempted to answer John Mack's request to clarify the timeline and next steps for approval of the final version of the E-30 amendment to the Newtown Area Zoning Ordinance that would allow a combination gas station/convenience store use. Mr. Sander argued that the draft amendment first be shown to Provco, which represents Wawa, for their review/approval before sending the finalized document to the Bucks County Planning Commission and then to the Boards of each of the Jointure's member townships. Recall that Provco is suing Newtown because it lacked such a use in any of its zones.

Mr. Sander argued that this "curative amendment" would have no bearing on the court case, which Provco can still proceed with. 

 

Listen to his comments and opinions of Newtown Supervisors Mack and Calabro here: https://bit.ly/E30vProvco 

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Newtown Police Will Host Town Hall Meeting

Newtown Police Will Host Town Hall Meeting | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Based on response, additional meetings may be scheduled in the future.

 

Submit your comments/questions via my Newtown Police Town Hall Questionnaire in case you are unable attend for personal reasons (e.g., conflict) or if you were not able to attend due to seating limits. Include any questions or comments you wish for me to submit to the Chief. You also can submit questions/comments/concerns directly to the Chief via email to: PoliceTownHall@newtownpa.gov

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Newtown Area "Jointure" Wants Your Opinion on Planning the Future: Take the Survey

Newtown Area "Jointure" Wants Your Opinion on Planning the Future: Take the Survey | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The Newtown Area Jointure (the joint municipal zoning consortium comprising Newtown Township, Upper Makefield Township, and Wrightstown Township) would like your help in determining future planning needs for your community.

The Jointure is beginning the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan, which was last updated in 2009.

The Comprehensive Plan is the Jointure's primary land use policy document that sets goals and objectives, and a vision for future development and growth. 

The Jointure would like to hear the views of as many residents as possible, and is committed to ensuring the community plays an active role in developing the policies that will help shape the development in the Jointure for the next ten years and beyond.

Questions include:

  • Why did you choose to live in your township?
  • What are the best characteristics of your community?
  • What do you consider to be the most important problems facing your community?
  • Overall how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the residential development within your community?
  • Overall how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the commercial development within your community?

 

Take the Survey.

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Economic Development Committee Discusses Revitalization of Newtown Business Commons

Economic Development Committee Discusses Revitalization of Newtown Business Commons | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

At the July 2, 2020, Zoom meeting of the Economic Development Committee (EDC), members Karen Miller, co-president of the Newtown Business Commons Association, and Joseph Blackburn, an Associate with Wisler Pearlstine, proposed ways that the township can revitalize the Newtown Business Commons, which is zoned for light industrial and office use. This is especially important after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and businesses get up and running again but find that more workers can work at home and they no longer need as much office space.

One specific suggestion was to apply under the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA Definition) to lower real estate taxes for businesses in the Commons. Other local municipalities are using this tool to revitalize their business districts (read, for example, "Northampton Extends LERTA Tax Break Program for Businesses").

 

Listen to this 11.5 minute audio snippet for the details: https://bit.ly/ntLERTA 

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Newtown Township Approves #COVID19 Outdoor Sales & Dining Resolution

Newtown Township Approves #COVID19 Outdoor Sales & Dining Resolution | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

On June 24, 2020, the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved a resolution "establishing guidelines and policy for outdoor sales of merchandise and/or outdoor dining for existing businesses in Newtown Township during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

You might say this is opening a door that many businesses have already walked through. Several restaurants, for example, have already established their own guidelines (read, for example, "Solstice Restaurant Develops Health & Safety Guidelines for Dining Based, in Part, on Reopening Survey").

 

Nearby municipalities - including Newtown Borough, Doylestown Borough, and Middletown Township - have already passed similar resolutions weeks ago. Newtown's resolution was modeled after Montgomery Township’s resolution and in accordance with CDC guidelines.

 

More details…

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related content:

 

  • “Middletown Township Moves Forward Helping Businesses Get Back to Normal After the #COVID19 Shutdown. Meanwhile, Newtown Moves Forward Too, But Much More Slowly”; http://sco.lt/8lxJtQ
  • “Newtown Borough Planning Ahead For Outdoor Dining Reopening”; http://sco.lt/6rOpkG
  • “"Operation Doylestown" Makes It Easier for Borough Businesses to Reopen During Yellow #COVID19 Phase & Beyond”; http://sco.lt/8jU9eS
  • Podcast: “Getting Newtown Businesses Open Again”; https://johnmacknewtown.info/covidvbus.html
  • “PA Restaurants Can Open Outdoor Dining Rooms June 5 - But What About Restaurants Without Outdoor Seating Areas?”; http://sco.lt/58A7Xc
  • “Restaurants Reopening for Outdoor Dining: Closing Streets and Opening Sidewalks to Create al fresco Dining Rooms”; http://sco.lt/8rUPXE
  • “Solstice Restaurant Reopening Survey: We Care What You Think”; http://sco.lt/5k2XTM
  • “As Restaurants Remain Shuttered, American Cities Fear the Future - In Some Towns, 50% May Not Reopen!”; http://sco.lt/7e1xom
  • “Safe Dining During #COVID19? Hard to Imagine, but Many Restaurants Are Trying. What About Restaurants in the Newtown Area?”; http://sco.lt/5GQeVU
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Northampton Extends LERTA Tax Break Program for Businesses: Should Newtown Twp Do Something Similar?

Northampton Extends LERTA Tax Break Program for Businesses: Should Newtown Twp Do Something Similar? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Northampton has extended by another five years a tax break program for certain non-residential properties that’s designed to encourage business and jobs growth.

 

An ordinance unanimously approved by the township supervisors at a recent virtual meeting granted the extension for properties included in Northampton’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program. The properties are in various locations and zoning districts throughout the township.

 

Properties in LERTA get a five-year exemption from additional property taxes resulting from new construction or alterations. The time period begins after an occupancy permit is granted for the new part of a commercial or business property.

 

In addition to the time extension, the ordinance approved at the meeting removes the Spring Mill Manor property from the township’s LERTA program but adds the Village Shires Shopping Center on Buck Road.

 

Areas now included in the program are the shopping center, the village overlay zoning districts in the township’s Richboro and Holland sections, and the Northampton Township Business & Technology Center on Jacksonville Road.

 

Township officials said seven businesses have taken advantage of the tax break during the past five years.

 

Northampton Manager Robert Pellegrino said the program has resulted in several new jobs at the business and technology center. It also encouraged the renovation and conversion of the previously vacant old Richboro School into a business that now employs 12 to 15 people, he added.

 

“We have a relatively small commercial tax base in Northampton, only about 5% of the township,” Pellegrino said. “I think it’s important we do whatever we can to support the growth of that commercial tax base.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Should Newtown Township also implement a LERTA program for the Newtown Business Commons? Listen to this discussion at a recent Newtown Economic Development Committee meeting: https://bit.ly/ntLERTA

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Council Rock School Board approves $246M Budget With a Maximum 3.1% Tax Increase - $144.29 Additional Annual Taxes for the Average Resident!

Council Rock School Board approves $246M Budget With a Maximum 3.1% Tax Increase - $144.29 Additional Annual Taxes for the Average Resident! | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The Council Rock school board unanimously approved a $246 million final budget for 2020-21 that includes a 3.1% property tax increase.

 

All nine board members said at Thursday night’s virtual meeting they were reluctant to approve a tax increase in the current economy created largely by the coronavirus, but didn’t see any choice if the district is to remain viable.

 

The approved budget reflects numerous cuts that helped trim down a deficit that once stood at about $16 million, including the elimination of $3 million in planned materials and equipment purchases and salary concessions from teachers and administrators that will save the district $2.5 million in 2020-21.

 

Despite those cuts, the budget includes three new elementary school counselors to give the district a counselor at each of its 10 elementary schools, and a one-to-one initiative that will provide every student with an electronic device.

 

The 3.1% property tax increase is the 2.6% allowed the district under the state’s Act 1 Index, and an additional 0.5% the state granted Council Rock as an exception for special education expenses.

 

The hike equates to 3.915 mills, or $144.29 in additional annual taxes for a resident with a property assessed at the district median of $37,630. It brings total millage to 130.216, or $4,900 in annual taxes for that same resident.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related content:

  • “Council Rock Posts $256M Budget - School Tax Increase Could Be Higher Than Usual Next School Year!”; http://sco.lt/5PG4H2
  • “Newtown Township’s Real Estate Tax Revenue & Expenditures”; http://sco.lt/7ZH6eG
  • “Proposed Council Rock Budget Has 2.3 Percent Tax Hike - $110 More in Taxes for Average Newtown Homeowner”; http://sco.lt/5Dr7Oy
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Letter & Petition Urge Council Rock School District to Better Empower Students to Embrace Diversity, Not Racism

A letter and petition by Council Rock School District (CRSD) graduates Farah Contractor and Danielle Randall, was distributed via Facebook by Janai Robinson, who has been active in the Newtown area #BlackLivesMatter movement,urges the CRSD to "do better and actively prepare their students to become upstanding citizens who will fight for progressive change."

 

The letter and petition will be sent to the Council Rock School Board, the Superintendent of Schools, and various school principals. I learned about the letter through the Concerned Community of Council Rock School District Facebook Group.

 

The authors claim that CRSD falls short of its very own mission statement: “Council Rock School District, in partnership with its community, empowers all students with the knowledge, habits, and attitudes to become life-long learners and to lead and serve in a diverse global society.”

 

The letter lists several "action steps" that CRSD should follow to achieve that goal, including changes in curriculum, hiring a more diverse teaching staff, etc.

 

Find the letter, the action steps, and a link to the petition here… 

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John Mack's June 2020 Supervisor Activities: Getting Back to Normal

John Mack's June 2020 Supervisor Activities: Getting Back to Normal | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

In June 2020, as Bucks County moved into the COVID-19 "Green Phase" when some businesses re-opened, I spent 56.2 hours on official supervisor business. Although that's still below the average of 63 hours per month in January and February before COVID-19, it is well above the 33 hours for June 2019. There were more committee meetings to attend, which required more preparation time.

More details here...

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“Celebrate Our Towns” Formed to Aid New Hope-Lambertville Businesses

As local businesses begin to re-open in Lambertville, N.J., and New Hope, they will be receiving a much-needed benefit for the safety of their staff and customers.
 
Over 3,000 face masks will be delivered to local retailers and restaurants – the result of a partnership between New Hope Celebrates, the City of Lambertville, New Hope Borough, Visit Bucks County and the Delaware River Towns.
 
The idea came about during round-table discussions between Lambertville and New Hope to reduce the cost and shortage of face masks faced by small-business owners.
 
Retailers and restaurants in Lambertville and New Hope will each receive up to 30 masks to be used by their staff. The masks are both washable and reusable. Some retail businesses will also be selling masks to the public.
 
In an effort to support and encourage local businesses, “Celebrate Our Towns” has been created. Businesses can register to receive their free masks at celebrateourtowns.com.
 
If businesses need to purchase more masks for their staff or for individuals wanting to purchase masks, go to newhopecelebrates.com/shop-nhc.
 
Businesses interested in selling masks to the public can email info@newhopecelebrates.com.
 
“Celebrate Our Towns” reinforces the fierce community spirit that keeps the River Towns united and makes them proud.
johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related:

 

  • “Newtown Township Approves #COVID19 Outdoor Sales & Dining Resolution”; http://sco.lt/7MyWJM
  • “Operation Doylestown Launches - Relaxes Zoning Regulations to Allow Expanded Outside Dining, Sales”; http://sco.lt/4hETq4 
  • “Newtown Borough Planning Ahead For Outdoor Dining Reopening”; http://sco.lt/6rOpkG 
  • “"Operation Doylestown" Makes It Easier for Borough Businesses to Reopen During Yellow #COVID19 Phase & Beyond”; http://sco.lt/8jU9eS 
  • Podcast: “Getting Newtown Businesses Open Again”; https://johnmacknewtown.info/covidvbus.html 
  • “PA Restaurants Can Open Outdoor Dining Rooms June 5 - But What About Restaurants Without Outdoor Seating Areas?”; http://sco.lt/58A7Xc 
  • “Restaurants Reopening for Outdoor Dining: Closing Streets and Opening Sidewalks to Create al fresco Dining Rooms”; http://sco.lt/8rUPXE 
  • “Solstice Restaurant Reopening Survey: We Care What You Think”; http://sco.lt/5k2XTM 
  • “As Restaurants Remain Shuttered, American Cities Fear the Future - In Some Towns, 50% May Not Reopen!”; http://sco.lt/7e1xom 
  • “Safe Dining During #COVID19? Hard to Imagine, but Many Restaurants Are Trying. What About Restaurants in the Newtown Area?”; http://sco.lt/5GQeVU 
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Newtown Iron Hill Brewery Grand Opening Today (Wednesday June 17, 2020) at 11:15 AM

Newtown Iron Hill Brewery Grand Opening Today (Wednesday June 17, 2020) at 11:15 AM | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

[John Mack (r.) with fellow supervisor Kyle Davis (l.) enjoying a craft beer at the grand opening of the Newtown Iron Hill Brewery.]

 

The new restaurant at the Village at Newtown Shopping Center will have take out, delivery and outdoor dining.

It’s not exactly an ideal time for a new restaurant to make its debut, but officials with the Iron Hill Brewery chain are still looking forward to the opening Wednesday of their Newtown Township location for take out, delivery and outdoor dining.

Open for lunch and dinner, the scratch brewery and craft restaurant at the Village at Newtown Shopping Center at 2920 S. Eagle Road will feature a wide variety of craft beers and many other beverage and food selections.

It’s one of several new restaurants, including Solstice and Chipotle, included in an ambitious expansion of the shopping center.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

I will be at the ribbon cutting grand opening of Iron Hill Brewery this morning at 11:15 AM.

 

Related:

  • Hard Seltzer Now Available at Iron Hill Breweries, Including One Coming to Newtown Township; http://sco.lt/6GMywK 
  • Co-Founder & Brixmor Property Group “Thrilled” That Iron Hill Brewery is Opening in Newtown Township in 2020; http://sco.lt/7KdIHI 
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​How Satisfied Are You With Newtown Township Services?

​How Satisfied Are You With Newtown Township Services? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) engaged Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI Solutions) to develop a comprehensive multi-year financial management plan. This effort is partially funded by a Strategic Management Planning Program grant awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (read "Newtown Applies for DCED Grant to Assess the Township's Financial Condition"). A five-year plan, including recommendations to improve operational efficiency and promote fiscal stability in Newtown Township, will be publicly released later this year.

 

As part of this process, Newtown is asking the community to help by completing the Newtown Township Citizen Survey. Specifically, the Township would like to know how you feel about the current state of municipal services.

 

More…

 

TAKE THE SURVEY NOW

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Related Content:

 

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Operation Doylestown Launches - Relaxes Zoning Regulations to Allow Expanded Outside Dining, Sales

Operation Doylestown Launches - Relaxes Zoning Regulations to Allow Expanded Outside Dining, Sales | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Doylestown Borough officials and merchants have banded together, launching Operation Doylestown, an initiative to relax zoning regulations and increase support for local businesses as they open their doors, while abiding by health department guidelines.

 

Standing in an alleyway by Villa Capri, Doylestown Borough Manager John Davis pointed to about 10 rectangular shapes marked with red tape on the pavement, where tables can now be set up to create safe boundaries for diners of the Italian eatery. In front, where cars once parked, staff wiped down barrel-style cafe tables adorned with flowers and covered with umbrellas.

 

“When life gives you lemons, make limoncello,” said Matt Mannino, owner of Villa Capri, setting up the outside cafe one recent day. “It feels very European.”

 

Davis said Villa Capri’s new setting is an example of how business owners and borough officials are banding together, tapping into creativity and flexibility, to help merchants stay afloat.

 

Together, they launched Operation Doylestown, an initiative to relax zoning regulations and increase support for local businesses as they open their doors, while abiding by health department guidelines. Alleyways, parking spaces and sidewalks throughout the borough have been converted for outside dining and retail sales.

 

While creating a socially distanced experience, new outside marketplaces are sprouting up in pockets of the borough during scheduled evenings and weekends. Street closures are also being planned to allow for social distancing and safe shopping on designated days. Parking fees and open-container laws have been relaxed temporarily.

 

“As long as a State of Emergency order is in place, we have the ability to permit some of these things to happen,” said Davis, who is working with businesses to create space that meets COVID guidelines and is safe.

 

Davis said the borough will continue to brainstorm ways to continue giving support. “It will be through our own ways and from the ground up. … we’ll go door to door and find out what people need to stay above water and get through this.”

 

“We have to be nimble and flexible; it’s a new world out there.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Meanwhile, in Newtown Township, more talk and no action

 

At the June 15, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Work Session via Zoom, a draft of an Outdoor Sales & Dining Resolution was discussed. It's goal was to establish guidelines and policy for outdoor sales of merchandise and/or outdoor dining for existing businesses in Newtown Township during the COVID-19 pandemic. This resolution as based on one passed by another PA township. A major point of the discussion concerned how far must outdoor dining table be from passersby on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, no vote was taken as the resolution needed a minor edit.

 

While some Newtown Supervisors favored using parking spaces for outside sales, that idea did not move forward. Listen to the discussion here: https://bit.ly/NToutdoorRes

 

Related:

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Developer Brings Lower Southamption to Court to Fight the Township’s Rejection of Its Plan to Build a Super Wawa

Developer Brings Lower Southamption to Court to Fight the Township’s Rejection of Its Plan to Build a Super Wawa | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

A developer is fighting a Lower Southampton zoning hearing board rejection that would have cleared the way for a controversial super Wawa off Brownsville Road near east Bristol Road.

 

The Lower Southampton supervisors confirmed the appeal filed by Provco Pineville Acquisitions LLC during their meeting Wednesday (June 10, 2020), where they voted unanimously to defend the board's decision, which was made earlier this year.

 

The board voted 5-0 to hire conflict attorney Nate Fox of the Obermayer law firm in Doylestown at a rate of $325 an hour for the appeal, which was filed in Bucks County Common Pleas Court in March. A separate petition including Neshaminy School District was filed in April.

 

The zoning hearing board unanimously turned down Provco Pineville's variance requests for the superstore in February, following five meetings on the proposal that started in October.

 

The proposed store would include 16-gas pumps on the 5-acre property.

 

Nearby residents heavily opposed the project expressing concern about increases in traffic to an already-congested intersection as well as safety concerns for children in the neighborhood and those attending the nearby Tawanka Elementary School.

 

Provco Pineville had sought approval for a series of zoning variances including a special exception to allow a motor vehicle fueling station in a C-2 commercial zone.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

At the June 15, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, the Board reviewed the details of latest draft of the E30 "Curative Amendment" to the Newtown Area Zoning ordinance. This amendment creates a new use for a combination gas station/convenience store (i.e., Wawa) in each township of the "Jointure" of Newtown, Wrightstown and Upper Makefield. Supervisor Mack asked how this amendment differed from the original "sketch plan" submitted to the BOS by Provco Pineville Acquisitions LLC, which is the Wawa developer.

 

Listen to the discussion: https://bit.ly/NTBOSwawa

 

Here are some related stories as background:

  • “Lower Southampton - Another Township Considering Zoning Variances to Allow a Super Wawa Gas Station/Convenience Store”; http://sco.lt/5H0khE
  • “Zoning Hearing Board Proposal for Lower Southampton Super Wawa Reconvenes on January 14”; http://sco.lt/5JFBxI
  • “Here's Where the Wawa on the Newtown Bypass Proposal Now Stands”; http://sco.lt/5KC9se
  • "Municipal Cure" Cannot Prevent Developer From Putting a Wawa on the Bypass in Newtown Township; http://sco.lt/837RkO
  • “If Wawa Comes to Newtown, Will It Be Able to Sell Beer & Wine Like the One in Middletown?”; http://sco.lt/6FfX96
  • “Upper Gwynedd Township Versus Wawa: A Lesson for Newtown Township?”; http://sco.lt/7pEIYy
  • “Developer Wants Plumstead to Change Its Zoning to Allow More Gas Pumps to Fit the Business Plan of a Super Wawa - A Lesson for Newtown”; http://sco.lt/5eYsXA
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Newtown Supervisors Plan a Town Hall Meeting with Police

Newtown Supervisors Plan a Town Hall Meeting with Police | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

A the June 10, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting, I suggested to Newtown Police Chief John Hearn that the township host a public "Town Hall" meeting where police officers and the community - especially residents who feel they have issues with the police - can get to know one another and have a meaningful dialog. In essence, a bigger, more inclusive, version of "Coffee with a Cop". This is something similar to what the Chief has done on a monthly basis when he was a Captain in the Philadelphia police force.

 

I will be working with fellow Supervisor David Oxley, community leaders, Chief Hearn and Township Manager Micah Lewis to plan for this live Town Hall meeting, which we hope can happen in July 2020, conditions permitting.

Listen to the Zoom meeting discussion here...

 

 

johnmacknewtown's insight:

UPDATE (9 July 2020): Residents from Newtown & Wrightstown Townships are invited to attend the first Newtown Township Police Department Town Hall meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 23, 2020 7:00pm-8:30pm at the Newtown Township Administration building.

 

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, a limited capacity will be implemented to ensure everyone’s safety in the public meeting room (max 20 attendees).

 

Find out about policing in your neighborhood, get an overview of our township Police Operations, how we uphold the highest ethical standards, promote accountability in our department and profession, and strengthen constructive community engagement.

 

Submit your comments/questions via this questionnaire in case you are unable attend for personal reasons (conflict) or if you were not able to attend due to space limitations.

 

Related Content:

 

  • “Local Demonstrations in Support of #BlackLivesMatter: Will They Lead to Change?”; http://sco.lt/58A7Xc
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Middletown Township Moves Forward Helping Businesses Get Back to Normal After the #COVID19 Shutdown. Meanwhile, Newtown Moves Forward Too, But Much More Slowly.

Middletown Township Moves Forward Helping Businesses Get Back to Normal After the #COVID19 Shutdown. Meanwhile, Newtown Moves Forward Too, But Much More Slowly. | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Leading up to the county moving from the “red” phase to the less-restrictive “yellow” phase last week, the township and the 13-person Middletown Township Economic Reopening Task Force (read "To Reopen Local Businesses, Townships Must Develop Guidelines to Ensure Citizens are Safe. CASE STUDY: Middletown & Sesame Place") prepared information for local businesses, which employ many residents, drive the area’s economy, and keep goods moving.

 

The township has produced signage packages that businesses can pick up at no cost to businesses. The package includes “Open For Business” displays, social distancing floor decals, and seven separate designs that businesses can reproduce.

 

“When the task force was thinking of how we can best provide direct relief to local businesses, this idea made complete sense,” said Board of Supervisors Chairperson Mike Ksiazek. “A small business that has been closed for three months can’t as easily afford signage, which has become a critical need for any business.”

 

Stephanie Teoli Kuhls, Middletown’s township manager, said during a task force meeting last week that the Board of Supervisors have agreed to waive permit fees to tenting relating to outdoor dining in the community.

 

“We’re trying to take away all the red tape,” she said.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

During the May 13, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting via Zoom, I made a case for the Township to start thinking how it can help local businesses to re-open safely during the current and the next phases of COVID-19 restrictions. Several ideas were put forward such as rethinking the Finance Committee's purview, putting together an ad hoc business Task Force, etc. From my meeting notes: “While the township cannot monitor safe business practices during COVID-19, perhaps it can task the Finance Committee to put together a Local Business Task Force of business leaders that will develop some guidelines that are specific for local businesses.” See here and here for more information and to listen to the conversation.

 

Instead, it was decided to “revamp” the Economic Development Committee (EDC) and solicit new members. It wasn’t until the June 11, 2020, BOS meeting that 7 people were named as new members. It may not be until June 15 or June 25 that the EDC becomes official and will meet.

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Lower Southampton May Lay Off More Workers Due to $1 Million Budget Shortfall Caused by #COVID19. Some Supervisors Agree to Forfeit $4,125 Yearly Salary to Help the Township

Lower Southampton May Lay Off More Workers Due to $1 Million Budget Shortfall Caused by #COVID19. Some Supervisors Agree to Forfeit $4,125 Yearly Salary to Help the Township | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Lower Southampton laid off 10 township employees last year, but the savings will only cover part of an anticipated seven-figure budget shortfall this year.

 

Lower Southampton is not ruling out a second round of employee layoffs later this year to fill a projected $1 million budget shortfall as a result of coronavirus business shutdowns.

 

Last month, supervisors approved eliminating 10 full-time township employees after the township saw its revenues plunge $171,000 in April compared to the previous year, according to Supervisors Chairman Ray Weldie.

 

… the township is anticipating a gap this year of $800,000 to $1.2 million in its $32.7 million budget meaning further cuts may be necessary, especially if there is a predicted second wave of COVID-19 later this year, Township Manager Joe Galdo said.

 

[Note: In comparison, Newtown Township Anticipates More Than $1.3 Million Budget Shortfall. It’s 2020 budgeted revenue is only $12 million! See http://sco.lt/54w3Si] 

 

Lower Southampton has not raised property taxes for the last 13 years, mostly because it has a 1% earned income tax that is now the main source of revenue for the township. [The same is true for Newtown Township.]

 

In December, Galdo estimated that the EIT would bring in $4.8 million to $5.5 million this year. He also projected the township will use $200,000 to $450,000 of its roughly $3 million fund balance, or reserves, to balance the 2020 budget.

 

The current revenue shortfall is blamed largely on EIT losses as a result of business slowdowns, closures and stay-at-home orders, officials said.

 

Between 14% and 18% of Lower Southampton residents are currently unemployed, according to Galdo, which has also impacted other revenue sources such as the business privilege tax.

 

Some Supervisors to Give Up Salaries

 

In an effort to help reduce costs, Weldie announced at a May 13 supervisor meeting that he returned his monthly supervisors paycheck to the township and plans to give up his supervisor salary for the rest of the year to help the township.

 

Supervisors Deborah Kaplan and Ed Shannon also have agreed to forfeit their supervisor salaries, which amount to $4,125 a year each before taxes, Weldie said.

 

Supervisor Kim Koutsouratis said Tuesday he wanted to speak to the board before making any decisions on forfeiting his salary. This news organization was not immediately successful in reaching supervisor Sue Cummings for comment.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related Stories:

Logan Mercer's curator insight, June 12, 9:49 PM
He is a recent example of how the coronavirus has put a dent into Lower Southampton's budget. Possibly, needing to layoff workers to help the $1 million dollar budget cut. Personally, its upsetting to see people lose their jobs as Lower Southampton has already laid off 10 employee's in April. 
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Newtown Township Anticipates More Than $1.3 Million Budget Shortfall Due to #COVID19

Newtown Township Anticipates More Than $1.3 Million Budget Shortfall Due to #COVID19 | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Newtown Township supervisors established an Economic Development Committee Wednesday, as they try to find ways to deal with the loss of earned income tax (definition) funds and other revenue sources due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

With community members out of work or working reduced hours, the township anticipates a more than $748,000 shortfall in its collection of the earned income tax this year, as well as another $567,000 shortfall in other income, including a $400,000 loss in revenue from its summer camps programs that cannot take place (read “Newtown Township Scraps Plan to Open Summer Camps”).

 

The losses have created a $1.292 million deficit in the township’s $12.16 general fund budget, even with corrective actions having been taken to reduce expenses.

 

Dan Connelly, director of Econsult Solutions Inc., said during a Zoom meeting Wednesday that township’s finances are changing weekly, depending on the work situations of residents and others who work in the township and pay the earned income tax. The consulting firm is evaluating the township finances and developing a five-year financial plan.

 

“It’s turned the projections upside down,” Connelly said.

 

Even before the pandemic, Newtown Township had seen a decline in its projected income from its earned income tax since Lockheed Martin closed its facility in the township five years ago.

 

The township also has been impacted by other townships enacting their own EITs.

 

At a meeting of the township’s Finance Committee Tuesday, members talked of ways to improve EIT collection and some pointed out the importance of having residents shop and dine in the township, so that local businesses will generate more income and contribute more in taxes. [Read “Newtown Township Finance Committee Discusses Ideas For Launching a Business Reopening Initiative”]

 

Committee members also discussed turning to the Lower Bucks Chamber of Commerce for help and to its own Newtown Business Association members who could design online promotions to help get the word out to “buy local.”

 

One resident pointed out that by shopping and dining in the township, residents were saving on their own tax contributions. “I’m sort of putting money back in my own pocket,” one caller said.

 

Connelly said he plans to have the completed financial plan report to the township by August and suggested there be a public hearing on it so that residents can comment, though that might wait until residents can meet together when social distancing guidelines are eased.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

“Corrective Actions” that Newtown Township Might Take in 2020

 

  • Reduce General Fund transfer to Capital Projects Fund: Save $93,000
  • Divert Road program funds to General Fund: Save $290,000 (already done; read 2020 Road Program Falls Victim to COVID-19)
  • Leave retired police Lt. position vacant: Save $60,000
  • Eliminate plans to hire new police officer: Save $46,569
  • Leave Parks and Recreation Director position vacant: Save $87,000
  • Reduce part-time staff for mowing: Save $41,000
  • Eliminate summer camp: Save $120,000
  • Achieve savings from change in electric provider: Save $30,000

 

TOTAL = $760,000

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"Operation Doylestown" Makes It Easier for Borough Businesses to Reopen During Yellow #COVID19 Phase & Beyond

"Operation Doylestown" Makes It Easier for Borough Businesses to Reopen During Yellow #COVID19 Phase & Beyond | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Downtown Doylestown has taken a big hit from COVID-19. Some small businesses are fighting for their survival and others are navigating how to gradually reopen in the iconic borough, home to many popular shops, bars and restaurants.

 

As Bucks County moves into the “yellow” phase of Gov. Wolf’s three-phase plan to begin the state’s pandemic recovery, Doylestown officials are launching a focused initiative of their own.

Called “Operation Doylestown,” the program is designed to encourage businesses to extend their storefronts into common areas in town and hold “open marketplaces,” pop-up shopping areas and other activities.

 

The borough is willing to relax restrictions on parking, use of alley ways and parking lots, said Davis. “We’re stripping down the approval process to help businesses the best way we can. We’re working with them one-on-one.”

 

Describing the effort as “finding a balance between pedestrians, cars, commercial space, safety, businesses and parking,” Davis said, “we’re reinventing” downtown.

 

The various accommodations and changes will “last for the term of the emergency, through the yellow phase and possibly into the green,” the manager said.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Meanwhile, the Newtown Township Finance Committee suggests ideas for a "Newtown Township Business Reopening Initiative." More on that here...

 

Related:

  • “Newtown Borough Planning Ahead For Outdoor Dining Reopening”; http://sco.lt/6rOpkG
  • Podcast: “Getting Newtown Businesses Open Again”; https://johnmacknewtown.info/covidvbus.html
  • “PA Restaurants Can Open Outdoor Dining Rooms June 5 - But What About Restaurants Without Outdoor Seating Areas?”; http://sco.lt/58A7Xc
  • “Restaurants Reopening for Outdoor Dining: Closing Streets and Opening Sidewalks to Create al fresco Dining Rooms”; http://sco.lt/8rUPXE
  • “Solstice Restaurant Reopening Survey: We Care What You Think”; http://sco.lt/5k2XTM
  • “As Restaurants Remain Shuttered, American Cities Fear the Future - In Some Towns, 50% May Not Reopen!”; http://sco.lt/7e1xom
  • “Safe Dining During #COVID19? Hard to Imagine, but Many Restaurants Are Trying. What About Restaurants in the Newtown Area?”; http://sco.lt/5GQeVU
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Incident In Front Of Starbucks in Newtown Borough Under Investigation.

Incident In Front Of Starbucks in Newtown Borough Under Investigation. | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Police in Newtown Borough said they're investigating an incident that occurred outside of the Starbucks on State Street​ Monday

 

Police in Newtown Borough said they're investigating an incident that occurred outside of the Starbucks on State Street Monday.

 

The incident was captured on video and viewed widely on Facebook.

 

Anju Madnani, in a post since shared more than 275 times, says she was with her adult son and daughter as they put up flyers related to the death of George Floyd.

 

In the video, a couple is seen approaching and yells at them. The man then confronts the woman putting up the flyers, hitting her phone from her hand.

 

Police issued a statement Tuesday saying the investigation into the incident is not complete. "Upon completion, we will address the outcome here. We will do our job thoroughly as always," the statement said.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

UPDATE (6/4/20):

Charges have been filed in connection with an incident that occurred Monday outside of the Starbucks on State Street. Vincent Lewis, 63, of Newtown has been charged with harassment and criminal mischief after police said he "made contact" with a woman, damaging her phone.

 

UPDATE (6/26/20):

Mr. Lewis has pled not guilty and a hearing of this case will be held in District Court in Newtown on July 22, 2020, at 2.45 pm. DISTRICT JUSTICE:  PETRUCCI 28 N. STATE STREET NEWTOWN, PA  18940   PH#:  215-968-1657

 

Let's Make Sure Racism Has No Place in Newtown!

 

The mother of the victim said “Do you think this white couple will do the same thing with white kids if they were putting the same posters? I really think people have to drastically change their thinking and support humanity, not racism.”

 

Just a few days prior to this incident, the the Newtown Township Human Relations Commission (NTHRC) decided to dedicate its Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 7 PM, Zoom public meeting to discussing racism and what can be done to ensure that racism has no place in Newtown and that incidents such as the above are not tolerated. The Commission wishes to invite members of the public to attend by invitation only.

 

Please complete this form if you are interested in attending this meeting. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/93KWKFT

 

Related:

  • “Many Blacks Feel Their Safety is Ignored”; http://sco.lt/8nF40e
  • “ADL: There were eight incidents of extremism and anti-Semitism in Bucks County in 2019. Only the tip of the iceberg, IMHO!”; http://sco.lt/5UpBqq
  • “Film ‘Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. is the Answer’”: http://sco.lt/8C7RFA 
johnmacknewtown's curator insight, June 3, 7:14 AM

Let's Make Sure Racism Has No Place in Newtown!

 

The mother of the victim said “Do you think this white couple will do the same thing with white kids if they were putting the same posters? I really think people have to drastically change their thinking and support humanity, not racism.”

 

Just a few days prior to this incident, the the Newtown Township Human Relations Commission (NTHRC) decided to dedicate its Wednesday, June 17, 2020, 7 PM, Zoom public meeting to discussing racism and what can be done to ensure that racism has no place in Newtown and that incidents such as the above are not tolerated. The Commission wishes to invite members of the public to attend by invitation only.

 

Please complete this registration form if you are interested in attending this meeting. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/93KWKFT

 

Related:

  • “Many Blacks Feel Their Safety is Ignored”; http://sco.lt/8nF40e
  • “ADL: There were eight incidents of extremism and anti-Semitism in Bucks County in 2019. Only the tip of the iceberg, IMHO!”; http://sco.lt/5UpBqq
  • “Film ‘Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. is the Answer’”: http://sco.lt/8C7RFA
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An Update from CRSD Superintendent Fraser Regarding the Starbucks Incident!

An Update from CRSD Superintendent Fraser Regarding the Starbucks Incident! | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Dear CR School Community

 

The Council Rock School District has been made aware that the Newtown Borough Police Department has filed one count of Harassment and one count of Criminal Mischief against a First Student employee who drives a bus for the District. The charges arise out of an incident that occurred on June 1 in Newtown Borough in the area of 100 South State Street (read "Let's Make Sure Racism Has No Place in Newtown!"). While the District firmly believes the individual charged is entitled to due process, our transportation department has notified First Student that the individual may no longer serve as a driver in the Council Rock School District.

This incident comes on the heels of the senseless murder of George Floyd, which many of us have horrifically watched on television. Like many, I’ve been shocked and shaken by this murder and also by the murder of Ahmaud Arbery just days before. As the CR community, I urge all of us to come together as one to combat any hate crime, any hate speech, and all forms of racism. It’s important that we’re unified and that we are there for each other. I urge you to surround each other as one community with all the love, compassion, and kindness that we all possibly have to offer. We all need it, and our African-American friends in particular need it right now.

 

More...

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Newtown Borough Planning Ahead For Outdoor Dining Reopening

Newtown Borough Planning Ahead For Outdoor Dining Reopening | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Newtown Borough officials will discuss ideas for allowing local restaurants — which have been closed since mid-March — take advantage of the governor's yellow phase guidelines for outdoor dining.

 

The topic will be discussed during a Zoom meeting Wednesday. You can register to attend the Zoom here

 

The agenda includes a segment on the process for allowing temporary permits for tents, outdoor dining, and alcohol consumption.

 

Borough Council member Nicole Rodowicz said she expects council to discuss how they can help State Street restaurants make plans for outdoor dining.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

At recent Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meetings, the Supervisors grappled with how the township might be able to allow restaurants without outdoor seating certificates of occupancy to place outdoor seating tables on sidewalks and/or parking areas. Several ideas were put forward and discussed. Find the streaming videos of recent BOS meetings here

 

Meanwhile, Newtown Borough has already acted and issued:

RESOLUTION NO. 6-4-2020

 

A RESOLUTION OF NEWTOWN BOROUGH, BUCKS COUNTY, ESTABLISHING GUIDELINES AND POLICY FOR OUTDOOR SALES OF FOOD AND MERCHANDISE OF EXISTING BUSINESSES IN THE BOROUGH DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

 

and

 

Application for Outdoor Commercial Activity

 

Related:

  • Podcast: “Getting Newtown Businesses Open Again”; https://johnmacknewtown.info/covidvbus.html
  • “PA Restaurants Can Open Outdoor Dining Rooms June 5 - But What About Restaurants Without Outdoor Seating Areas?”; http://sco.lt/58A7Xc
  • “Restaurants Reopening for Outdoor Dining: Closing Streets and Opening Sidewalks to Create al fresco Dining Rooms”; http://sco.lt/8rUPXE
  • “Solstice Restaurant Reopening Survey: We Care What You Think”; http://sco.lt/5k2XTM
  • “As Restaurants Remain Shuttered, American Cities Fear the Future - In Some Towns, 50% May Not Reopen!”; http://sco.lt/7e1xom
  • “Safe Dining During #COVID19? Hard to Imagine, but Many Restaurants Are Trying. What About Restaurants in the Newtown Area?”; http://sco.lt/5GQeVU
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Local Demonstrations in Support of #BlackLivesMatter: Will They Lead to Change? State Sen. Steve Santarsiero Weighs In

Local Demonstrations in Support of #BlackLivesMatter: Will They Lead to Change? State Sen. Steve Santarsiero Weighs In | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

We must examine our own attitudes and recognize where we must change the way we think. We must perform acts of personal courage and acts of kindness. We must speak out whenever we see injustice. And we must examine our institutions, whether our criminal justice system, our schools, or the laws that govern us, and identify where we must make changes.

 

Examining our criminal justice system with a critical eye does not make us any less supportive of those who serve in it with honor and a devotion to public safety.

 

On the contrary, leaving this responsibility to future generations does those who put themselves at personal risk to keep us safe a disservice and dishonor no matter how cynically the omission may be portrayed as a test of loyalty.

 

Examining our schools does not mean that we adopt a view of history that is as biased against the good as it has been against the injustice that has been allowed. But it does require us to be honest about our past and our present so that the next generation is better prepared to face the challenges of the future.

 

Examining our laws is not an invitation to absolve anyone of personal responsibility or create one set of injustices to wash away another. But it is an opportunity to create a society in which equality is more than an Enlightenment goal.

 

I cannot accept that we have come this far only to fail at this moment. Imperfect as we have been, America has played a crucial role in the march of democracy and freedom in the world. We have more yet to do. Before we can do it, however, we must at long last heal ourselves.

 

Toward that end, on Thursday evening, more than 5,000 people came to the Garden of Reflection in Lower Makefield, staying in their cars as they drove through to observe a vigil against racism, violence and injustice.

 

It was a powerful display of solidarity and a moment that could not help but restore our faith in the goodness of people. Alone, however, it was not enough. Now we must undertake the hard work of healing the wounds of our past and present.

 

What can you do? Join the Bucks NAACP (all are welcome). Reach out to the Peace Center and take one of the action pledges that we have proposed. But above all else, get involved and make a difference.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

I pledge to dismantle racism as suggested by the NAACP and Peace Center organizers of the #BlackLivesMatter vigial at the Garden of Reflection: i.e., "advocate for increased police training on community policing and issues relating to bias." In particular, I will urge Newtown Twp Police Chief Hearn to organize a "town hall" meeting of police and citizens to "begin community dialogue...about racism and making our community safe for everyone" (another pledge item).

 

I intend to discuss this with Chief Hearn at the June 10, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Zoom meeting. At the meeting the Chief read a Message To the Community: https://soundcloud.com/user-944327486/newtown-township-police-chief-hearns-message-to-the-community 

 

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PA Restaurants Can Open Outdoor Dining Rooms June 5 - But What About Restaurants Without Outdoor Seating Areas?

PA Restaurants Can Open Outdoor Dining Rooms June 5 - But What About Restaurants Without Outdoor Seating Areas? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The state has issued guidelines for restaurants opening amid the pandemic. Rules include spacing between tables and limited capacity.

 

Pennsylvania restaurants in the yellow phase of coronavirus mitigation will be permitted to open outdoor dining areas starting June 5 provided they follow safety and social distancing guidelines, state officials announced Wednesday.

 

All Pennsylvania counties are expected to be in either the yellow or green phase of mitigation by that date. Restaurants in the green phase are allowed to open interior dining rooms.

 

The following rules apply for restaurants in the yellow phase:

 

  • Indoor areas, including bar areas, of restaurants and retail food service businesses must be closed to customers except for through-traffic.
  • Non-bar seating in outdoor areas (i.e., tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating.
  • Customers being served must be seated at a table.
  • Tables must maintain a 6 feet distance between parties.

 

Yellow-phase dining operations are prohibited from operating self-service food or drink options, such as buffets and salad bars. Condiments must be removed from tables and dispensed by employees upon the request of a customer. Reusable menus, other than digital menus sanitized after each use, are prohibited.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

At recent Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meetings, the Supervisors grappled with how the township might be able to allow restaurants  without outdoor seating certificates of occupancy to place outdoor seating tables on sidewalks and/or parking areas. Several ideas were put forward and discussed. Find the streaming videos of recent BOS meetings here.

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Newtown Township Summer Camps Canceled for 2020

Newtown Township Summer Camps Canceled for 2020 | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Newtown Township Parks & Recreation is disappointed to announce the cancellation of our 2020 Summer Camps due to the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. These camps include Camp Newtown, Teen Camp, Camp Beechtree, Playground Camp and Sports Camp.


This decision was not easy but our top priority is the safety of all
campers and staff.


Everyone registered will receive a refund for the amount you paid or if you choose to keep your child enrolled in the system, we can offer you the rates you paid this year for next year’s camp. Please let our department know by Monday, June 1st if you are interested in taking advantage of this discount option.


Please note, all registrations made over 120 days ago (on or before
February 1st), will be processed by check and mailed to you within the next 3-4 weeks. Please allow all other refunds, 7-10 business days to process.

 

We hope to be of service in the near future!


Sincerely,


Newtown Township Parks & Recreation

johnmacknewtown's insight:

My survey of local area residents suggests that even with CDC guidelines in place, parents are “not comfortable at all” or “very uncomfortable” sending their children to summer camp this year. For a summary of survey results and comments from respondents, read “Your Decision: Send Your Child to Summer Camp or Not?”. 

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I am a retired small businessman who has lived in Newtown Township PA since 1995. The opinions expressed here are solely mine and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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