NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> The Newtown Borough Council will apply for a $200,000 grant from the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to fund roughly half the $410,000 purchase price of its Bird In Hand lot two acquisition.
In a series of motions, the council on March 12 began the process of applying for the grant voting to conduct a phase one environmental study of the property and approving a resolution designating the council president as the person who would accept the grant if it’s awarded to the Borough.
The phase one study is required by the state to demonstrate no known environmental hazards with the property, which is located at the intersection of Court and Mercer streets.
The acquisition grant is being written by Councilwoman Julia Woldorf who authored two previously successful grants for the recent Newtown Common restoration and preservation project.
In February council voted to take out a $115,000 short term loan with the First National Bank to pay for the purchase.
In addition, the Borough will be using $88,000 in county open space money toward the purchase. The funds were leftover from the Newtown Common restoration project and have since been reallocated by the county toward the purchase of the Bird in Hand lot
The borough plans to pay the balance of the purchase price by dipping into its reserves and/or by seeking out grant funding.
The Bird in Hand property is the site of the only Revolutionary War skirmish in Newtown, a 1778 Loyalist raid on the Bird in Hand Tavern where tailors were making uniforms for the troops at Valley Forge. Five American soldiers were killed, four were wounded and others were captured.
In addition, the land is part of the last remaining lot of the original six squares of property that comprised the layout of Newtown.
In other action at its March 12 meeting, council voted to notify 21 property owners on Chancellor and on a small section of Congress that they will be responsible, under borough ordinance, for repairing and/or replacing their curbs and driveway aprons “in-kind” as part of plans by the Borough to mill and repave their streets later this year.
Also at the meeting, council voted unanimously to amend Police Chief James Sabath’s employment agreement to allow up to 40 hours of vacation time to be annually carried over into the following year.
The council also heard from Chief Sabath who reported on police activity for the month of February.
According to the Chief, police responded to 290 calls for service, the majority of which concerned traffic-related issues. There were 101 traffic stops, resulting in 73 citations and eight warnings.
The chief also reported two possession of marijuana arrests and several retail thefts at the Fine Wine and Good Spirits store. “That seems to be a popular place these days, but we’ve had some success though. They have a pretty good surveillance system.”
With nicer weather and additional daylight, Sabath reported that he asked for and received $1,000 from Bucks County for pedestrian and traffic enforcement.
“We need to be cognizant of our pedestrians and provide a safe environment for them,” said Sabath.