Newtown Borough

NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> The borough has received an anonymous donation that will help with its purchase of Lot 2 at the historic Bird In Hand property at Court and Mercer streets.

Councilor Bob King announced the $52,317.55 financial gift at the April 9 borough council meeting.

The donation, which was made through the Newtown Historic Association’s Preservation Fund, will be used by the borough to pay down the principal on a five year borrowing loan taken out by the borough to help pay for the $410,000 acquisition.

“It’s very generous of this anonymous donor,” said Councilor Tara Grunde-McLaughlan. “The Borough of Newtown is very grateful for this tremendous gift.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” added Council President Kevin McDermott.

“We’re very pleased,” said King, noting that donations can continue to be made toward the purchase through the preservation fund set up by the NHA.

McDermott said in terms of dollars, the donation reduces the size of the borough’s loan from $115,000 down to $60,888. “Whoever you are out there, thank you very much,” he said.

In February council voted to take out the 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 potentially with grant funding.

Councilor Julia Woldorf announced on April 9 that she has finalized and sent a grant application to the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources seeking $209,000 toward the land purchase.

According to Woldorf, the grant uses the county open space money and the anonymous donation as the required match for the project.

“The numbers look really good. I have my fingers crossed,” said Woldorf, who recently penned two successful grants for the Newtown Common restoration project.

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 by William Penn.

The Borough eventually plans to create a public pocket park at the site with the addition of seating and landscaping “which will enhance the surrounding historic neighborhood” where yards are almost non-existent.

For now, however, residents will have to enjoy its beauty from the sidewalk and the street. The property will not be available for public use until fencing can be installed separating it from the adjoining Bird In Hand property.

In other news at the April 9 meeting, Councilor Nicole Rodowicz announced volunteer openings on the following borough committees: Environmental Advisory Council (three openings); Human Relations (one opening); Recreation Board (two openings plus a Secretary); Shade Tree Commission (one opening); and members of the Ad Hoc Traffic & Parking Committee.

Interested borough residents should submit a letter of interest to borough secretary Judy Musto.

In other news, McDermott announced three upcoming events:

- Arbor Day, Friday, May 3 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Brian Gregg Park. The rain date is Tuesday, May 7.

- Memorial Day Parade, Monday, May 27 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

- Music on the Street, Thursday evenings, May 30 to August 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. at 19 South State Street.

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