March 22, 2012
Commissioners Preserve 150th Bucks County Farm During Rare Evening Business Meeting
Since 1989, the Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation Program has steadily conserved many of the county’s most scenic land resources. On the evening of March 21, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners voted unanimously to preserve the 135.16-acre Clarence and Kenneth Bowman farm on Hill Rd. in Bedminster Township. The Bowman farm is the 150th farm preserved by the Board of Commissioners over the last 23 years – and the 50th preserved since 2006.
“One hundred-fiftieth; that’s great,” Commissioner Chairman Robert G. Loughery told the assemblage after county Agricultural Preservation Director Richard Harvey detailed the Bowman farm’s appeal. “That’s one heck of a milestone.”
According to Mr. Harvey, the Bowman farm is the 31st preserved in Bedminster Township, and it is located adjacent to or near 15 previously preserved farms. A corn and hay farm, it ranked seventh out of 63 agricultural preservation applications in 2011. “We have been working on (preserving) this farm for a long time,” Mr. Harvey stated. The county’s portion of the purchase is $608,260 plus settlement charges, which will be matched by state funds.
Another of the 26 approved resolutions involving 16 county departments was the parkland acquisition of 17.785 acres in Tinicum Township adjacent to the Tohickon Creek. According to county Executive Director of Parks and Recreation Bill Mitchell, the $235,000 acquisition is significant because it will protect trees, wetlands and riparian rights as well as protect the water table in Tinicum Township. The residents of Tinicum Township do not have public water and sewer. Commissioner Charles H. Martin abstained on the parkland acquisition vote.
For Community and Business Development, the commissioners approved a $2 million contract (50 percent county funding) with Somerton Court Residences, LP to develop low income senior housing in Bensalem Township. According to Somerton Court officials, the 60 units of affordable housing will be designated for three income tiers of residents age 62 and up.
By a 2-1 vote (with Commissioner Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW dissenting), Commissioners Loughery and Martin approved a $65,460.86 change order with Ernest Bock & Sons, Inc. The Justice Center general construction contract was amended for concrete fill where excavation limits for the foundation footings exceeded the elevation. This was the fourth change order to date on this contract.
The meeting commenced with Commissioner Marseglia proclaiming Wednesday, March 28 “United Way Operation Helping Hand Day” throughout the county. On that day, non-perishable food items will be collected in public and private schools throughout Bucks County and in other community locations including many senior citizen centers, and will be distributed to those in need by a network of 10 emergency food cupboards and two residential programs. Last year the effort provided more than 90,000 Bucks County residents in emergency need with 57,150 pounds of food.
During his chief operating officer’s report, Brian Hessenthaler touched on three upcoming events, which include free county-sponsored vaccine clinics for school-age children (Saturday, April 21 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Health Department’s Doylestown office and Saturday, April 28 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Health Department’s Levittown office), the Saturday, April 28 National Drug Take-Back Day at more than 40 locations around the county, and the 30th annual Bucks County Senior Games, which will take place from May 7-19. May is “Older Americans Month” and this year’s theme is: “Never too old to play!” For a single $11.00 registration fee, anyone 50 years or older may compete in one or all of the more than 20 competitive events held at indoor and outdoor venues throughout the county over a two week period. A sampling of events include: tennis, golf, bowling, swimming, badminton, track and field, bocce, billiards, shuffleboard, duplicate bridge and table tennis. Pickleball and rowing are two new events to be added in 2012. The Games conclude with an Awards Luncheon at Twining Village and an Active Aging Expo at The Fuge in Warminster.
Chief Clerk Lynn Bush had just one item in her report, requesting the approval of a resolution for participation in the Pennsylvania Municipal Assistance Program. The commissioners unanimously agreed to take that action.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 4, 2012, in the Conference Room of the Bucks County Courthouse (1st Floor). For a complete audio account of the March 21 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.