Situated on a 33-acre parcel adjacent to the Neshaminy Creek, Bucks County’s Playwicki Park has been the target of consistent flooding during recent years. Since Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Lee, the County General Services department has cleaned and refurbished many elements of the park, including a wooden arch pavilion that served as a picnic area for the Board of Bucks County Commissioners on the evening of Wednesday, July 16. The annual event featured grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and a variety of macaroni, potato and fruit salads.
According to County Executive Director of Parks and Recreation Bill Mitchell, Playwicki Park is one of the older parks in the 23-park system. It was purchased in 1965. He added that the choice of meeting spots was timely as the County is in the process of acquiring property that will create continuous trail linkage from Playwicki to nearby Core Creek Park.
Because the board had not met to consider contract resolutions since June 18, the agenda included 50 items involving 23 County departments. Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW also untabled and unanimously approved one item – a $26,779.50 monthly invoice for Justice Center architect Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum.
The meeting opened with Commissioner Marseglia proclaiming July 13-19 as “Pretrial Probation and Parole Supervision Week” throughout the County. She noted that, “These officers and their agents provide both supervision and counseling to offenders and operate to uphold the law and safeguard the public from criminal activity during an offender’s transition from incarceration to the community.”
The park venue also was topical due to the issuance of a pair of commendations to exemplary Boy Scouts Brandon Fricker of Upper Makefield Township and Derek Keyes of Langhorne. Both high-school students completed Eagle Scout projects benefiting the Bucks County Parks and Recreation department. Brandon’s project involved refurbishing and upgrading campsite markers at Tohickon Valley Park. Derek’s project produced portable traffic barriers that recently were used for a July 4 event. The commissioners praised both young men for their efforts and wished them success in their future endeavors.
The meeting included the preservation of the 166th farm in the County Agricultural Land Preservation Program, the 48.3-acre Leroy and Diann L. Diehl farm on Rte. 212 in Springfield Township. According to County Agricultural Preservation Director Rich Harvey, the Diehl farm is a corn farm that lies adjacent to previously preserved land. The County’s 50-percent portion of the easement cost is $217,350, with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania funding the other half. Mr. Harvey added that the Agricultural Land Preservation acreage total has reached 13,984 – with the 14,000 milestone anticipated during the August 13, 2014 meeting at the Middletown Grange Fair in Wrightstown.
The board approved eight Area Agency on Aging (AAA) contracts for various senior centers (Ben Wilson in Warminster, Bensalem, Bristol Township, Bucks County Association for Retired and Senior Citizens in Bristol, Eastern Upper Bucks Seniors, Inc. in Ottsville, Falls Township, Middletown and Morrisville) for nutrition monitoring equipment and an electronic consumer database system for reporting.
For Behavioral Health, the commissioners agreed to a $60,000, state funded one-year contract renewal with Langhorne-based The Peace Center to provide resource and call center guidance for bullying prevention. That extension runs through June 30, 2015.
The commissioners also designated Chairman Loughery to approve bonds issued by the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development to finance the Aria Health System Project. For Corrections, they approved a one-year, $1.832 million contract increase and extension with Trinity Services I, LLC to provide food services for the county correctional facilities. Commissioner Martin noted that the average price of a meal for prisoners is going up from “just” 92.8 cents to 94.89 cents.
The meeting also featured approval of four Municipal Open Space Program grants – including $214,500 for a 44.7-acre parcel in Richland Township on behalf of Delores Devery and $33,750 for a 9-acre parcel in Richland Township on behalf of Brian and Kathleen Devery, $30,000 for improvements at Silverdale Borough’s 2.75-acre W. Albert Reese Park, and $375,000 for a 34.71-acre parcel in Upper Makefield on behalf of Barbara Zimmerman. According to County Open Space Coordinator Dave Johnson, the Zimmerman property is a significant preservation because it features rare Class I soils and has two tributaries of Jericho Creek.
For Police Training, the board approved a $95,065.60 Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation, Bureau of Highway Safety pass through grant to the Bucks County Transportation Management Association for public safety programs.
One other contract approval of note was a 16-month agreement with Direct Energy Business Marketing, LLC of Woodbridge, NJ to provide a fixed Natural Gas Basis rate for the new Bucks County Justice Center. That rate will be effective through Dec. 31, 2015.
The bi-monthly Commissioners (Personnel) List included the resignation of former Human Resources Director Meredith A. Dolan, effective July 10, 2014. Another longtime employee who will be leaving County service shortly is Public Safety Training Center Director Harry C. McCann, effective Sept. 3, 2014.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, at the New Hope Winery, 6173 Lower York Rd., New Hope. For a complete audio account of the July 16 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.