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Warminster Takes First Steps Toward New WREC Facility

Township supervisors are looking at possible state funding to help construct a new building at Warminster Community Park.

As Warminster's Parks & Recreation Director Karen Whitney prepares for the closing of the WREC Center, the township supervisors have started rolling on the search for funding to construct a replacement facility at Warminster Community Park.

One possible source of money may come from Pennsylvania's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), a grant program that provides funds to regional projects that demonstrate potential for economic growth and the creation of jobs.

According to Valerie Piper, a project manager for Milligan & Company, the state has set aside $1.7 million for Warminster, and she can help the township jump through the hoops necessary to acquire the money.

"The township has to submit a business plan to the RACP committee that describes the project and how it will create and retain jobs," Piper told the Warminster Board of Supervisors last week.

If that plan is accepted, the township must fill out a more detailed application for the funds. If that application is approved, Warminster will then have 365 days to start construction. The supervisors gave Piper and her company the greenlight to get the process started with a 4-0 vote (Supervisor Tom Panzer was not in attendance).

While it may not get everything the Parks & Recreation department needs, the money will go a long way to help replace the WREC Center, Whitney said. With the loss of not only the former Hart Elementary, but also the closing and sale of Leary and Longstreth, one of the department's top priorities is a new gymnasium.

Otherwise, Whitney and township manager Rich Manfredi continue looking for replacement venues for the classes and meetings that occur nightly at the WREC. Some office and classroom space will be created next month by the arrival of four modular buildings totaling 2,000 sq.-ft., donated by Marriott Resorts in Absecon, N.J.

Contractors have been invited to bid on the pick-up, delivery and assembly of the modular units on the runway at Warminster Community Park. If and when a new WREC Center is constructed, those units will remain on the grounds and serve the department, Whitney said.

Jack Ellis September 26, 2012 at 04:19 AM
And so it begins. Questions in re: state's RACP money: Where does Warminster Township plan to get the $1.7 matching funds necessary to build a gymnasium in the community park, and second, how does the staff propose to create non-construction related JOBS via the construction of a gym? How many Warminster residents will (or do currently) use a gym, so we taxpayers can evaluate the ROI on a gym? The MAJORITY of Warminster's residents said "NO!" to park improvements not long ago. What research shows that the taxpayers of Warminster want to clutter the WCP with modular trailers, and/or want anything more than passive recreation in the parks? Can anyone provide usage statistics that demonstrate such development is necessary and wanted by the vast majority if Warminster residents, who recreate in backyards, existing parks, local gyms and the YMCA, private clubs, our excellent golf course, etc? It seems to me, after reading the WREC program guide, that many classes and trips cancel due to lack of interest and participation. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate our Parks and Rec program to see what is truly wanted and needed by the residents in its park and rec program -- if anything.
PS Concerned Resident September 26, 2012 at 03:21 PM
While I agree in principle that building a gym is not necessary, building out Warminster Park is absolutely necessary. We have too few sports fields to house our in house leagues and we are losing many of our sports venues when our schools close and are sold off. In our community, it seems that the vocal population tends to in the demographic that does not have younger kids, so outfitting any park may never pass a popular vote.
Don't Need It September 26, 2012 at 04:33 PM
^^ You write the $1 million dollar check, because I don't have the money to fund building the WCP with fields, parking, buildings, etc.
PS Concerned Resident September 26, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Maybe if we had our 55 & older communities paying taxes it would help. These communities create an impassable voting block and don't contribute to the tax base.
resident September 26, 2012 at 07:42 PM
I can't afford another tax increase still having difficulty with the last one!
Tired of Hypocrisy September 26, 2012 at 08:14 PM
A gym a WCP is a great idea! The gym at the WREC was used for many venues, aerobics, community theater, summer camps, open basketball, etc. Hopefully all those programs will continue and new ones added. WCP is a gem for our Township and should continue to be improved for the enjoyment of ALL township residents. I agree that the 55 & older communities should pay taxes. They clog up our roads, use all the township resources (WCP, etc). The youth in the township deserve a gym at WCP, they are the future of our township. As an aside, it was appalling how the senior citizens lobbied against improvements to WCP years ago. They spread rumors and gave false information to many. Had the bond issue passed, it would have been paid off by now and this discussion would not be taking place. None of the younger or middle aged residents complaind when the senior center was built. I wonder if they would mind if the township took over half of the senior center to put in a gym for the residents (especially the youth) to use since they are once again rearing up to stop anything that does not pertain only to them.
Jack Ellis September 26, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Just to correct mistaken impressions: ALL of the 55+ residents in Warminster now pay taxes. The tax abatement at Ann's Choice has lapsed; and, the other seniors communities (Shepherd's Crossing and Villas at Five Ponds) have always paid FULL taxation, including school taxes, even though they do not get certain services like road repairs. The builders of these communities have contributed to the economic base of Warminster and have provided funds to the township through tree fund and other contributions. If you look at the census for 2010, the 55+ residents have a wide majority in Warminster. I support the building of a gymnasium add-on at the Senior Center ... we could use it there! In fact, if there is room to develop it, why not house the Rec Staff there too? Put a modular unit there, in fact. Can some Rec Staff be housed at the golf course clubhouse? Can the cart barn be converted to a gym? I wonder if anyone has considered these possibilities, or are they just dead-set in believing the WCP should be built-out? If there is that much need for a gym (which I still question), perhaps a private company (like SMG Sportsplex did) would build it and rent it to the township? I heard the Hatboro Y was looking for a partnership opportunity in Warminster -- Why not? Why does the taxpayer and public always have to foot the bill for what I consider luxuries? In my day, we played basketball in school, the street, or driveways. We survived!
Jack Ellis September 26, 2012 at 08:51 PM
One more question: Is the Township allowed to construct within the WCP under the terms of the agreement with the Navy?
Josh September 26, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Well it looks like something is being built on the WCP. Someone has staked out another section next to the 'new' soccer field, closer to the Munroe side of the WCP. I like to know who/what is going on at the house on the WCP near the runway. Looks like a group home or something.
Francis Mattis September 27, 2012 at 07:24 AM
The house belongs to the Lenape Valley Foundation.
HONEST MOM September 27, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Mr. Ellis is there really room for a gym add on at the Senior Center? We all know there isn't enough land there for that. A gym for kids...very luxurious! Very sad that when something is for kids some just don't want anything! The schools don't allow free play of basketball in the schools. In my day we all had WREC centers to go to and play basketball. We stayed out of trouble cause we had somewhere to go that didn't cost our parents $5 for us to get in. We had harmless fun in a safe place. A gym can be used for many of the programs that were at the WREC. Honestly I thought Warminster was supposed to be a great place to raise kids but in recent years with the horrendous shuffle of schools, the building of mega schools that most parents didn't want, the closing of our Wrec center and the building of more than enough over 55 communities I'm wondering if it's just become a wonderful place to retire. Don't get me wrong. I respect and admire most seniors. I believe they wanted to live in Warminster because it was a family oriented community. Sadly more and more families are moving out of Warminster because our school district is in shambles and our township is removing our programs for kids.
Pete Krenshaw September 27, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Jack - According to what Valerie Piper and Karen Whitney presented at the last supervisors meeting, the WCP itself can be used as collateral for the matching funds. From what you are saying, the only time the Township should do anything is if it will benefit you. If it doesn't benefit you then it is not worth doing. Guess what...it's not all about you. You must live in the Villas of Five Ponds because their roads were not built to Township specifications (in order to cram more houses into the development) and therefore will never be accepted for dedication to the Township. (Also, when you said you would use a gym at the senior center, that gives it away.) I believe Honest Mom is correct though, there does not appear to be enough room for additional development at the senior center property. There is a retention pond in the front and no room for another building and the required parking. I wonder if the Township has entertained the idea of a partnership with the Hatboro Y or other private company... Perhaps something like that could work. As for developing WCP with additional services such as a recreation building, I believe that is in line with the approved masterplan.
Jack Ellis September 27, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Well, Pete, you are close. I don't live in the Villas at Five Ponds but I am off Delmont on Cloverly and I fought against the development of those homes too because of the traffic they add. It is ridiculous to say that some of us old residents of Warminster don't want anything for kids, but some just say when is enough enough? Kids have the skate park, the tot lots, SafetyTown, activityies at school, activityies at private gyms and SMG sports, etc. Most kids I know want to hang out with their friends in homes, at the mall, and on-line. Nowadays, parents think they need to program their kids to excess to make them successful and stay out of trouble. They need to give their kids places to go and people to supervise them because the parents are out working or don't want to do their own jobs as parents. I grew up in Mayfair. We ran in the streets. We played stickball with a stick if a kid had a ball. Nobody provided for us, we just got it. We rode our bikes everywhere and came home when it got dark. If we wanted to play in a gym, we signed up for after school sports. And as for the retention basin at the Senior Center, there were a bunch of kids playing a pick-up game of football there the other day. Maybe the drainage has improved, but the L&I guys are there often cutting the grass. Their mowers don't sink in any mud. If the township would think out of the WCP box, they could think about renovating the senior center's cafeteria and convert it to a gym/cafeteria.
Pete Krenshaw September 27, 2012 at 03:29 PM
I do not disagree that the Township should reevaluate the programs offered by the parks and recreation. I wrote something about this as a comment to a previous article on this situation. It is actually an opportunity to look at what is offered and make adjustments. It appears tough decisions in the way of cuts need to be made so this is the time to look and see what is really serving the community as a whole. For example, instead of offering a zumba class at the WREC where someone from outside of the Township (read private industry) is brought in to put on the class without the overhead expense, perhaps the Township can work out a deal to have the classes offered at a discount at their facility? I would bet these types of classes are offered at a local gym already. Same goes for Karate, dancing and several other programs currently offered. Hoe many people are signing up for these programs and should we as a Township be using taxpayer dollars to supplement programs? I don't have a problem with obtaining a grant and building a facility, but the Township needs to be sure we are addressing the needs of the community with whatever we are doing within the facility.
Jack Ellis September 27, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Finally, Pete, we agree -- at least in part. To be offering Zumba, karate, dance, etc. classes at the WREC is in fact competition with tax-paying (not tax-absorbing) private entities in our Township. I am curious as to the numbers of WARMINSTER RESIDENTS who actually use the WREC and P&R programs, and have been asking for them to no avail. My curiosity grows when I read in the P&R program book on the registration page that my enrollment may make or break whether a class is held or not. Sounds like many classes or programs are cancelled due to lack of interest? Many businesses do marketing research to ascertain the interest in their services -- has P&R done the same? Another thing to note: Honest Mom (above) says schools do not allow you to play basketball free. Neither does the WREC! It costs to rent the WREC. It costs to join the leagues or go to classes. Pete, I have another question for you. How does Warminster's P&R department stack up against nearby township's? I remember a year or two ago that WArrington canceled its Easter egg roll because of budget ... do you think they'd spring for a multi-million dollar gym? And if not, where do THEIR kids play? Yep, likely in Warminster.
Pete Krenshaw September 27, 2012 at 08:22 PM
I don't have that answer exactly Jack but would be interested to know as well. I do believe Northampton Township passed a referendum to build out their portion of the old airbase on Hatboro Road.
HONEST MOM September 28, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Mr. Ellis I live near Delmont too and that area in front of the Senior Center floods every time it rains heavily! Yes the kids play there sometimes UNTIL they are told once again that they can't play there at all! Mr. Ellis I grew up in the city too and we all know there were WREC centers. There were playgrounds for us to go to where we could get involved in a good pick up game or just hang out safely. Our neighborhood here doesn't have any place like that at all! Nowadays parents want their kids to stay involved...yes we do. A child who is well rounded becomes a better adult and God knows we need them. Parents I know do not want to send their kids out so they don't have to do their jobs....we do our own jobs raising our kids. We have tons of parents who volunteer for many programs so they will be available to the community. Mr. Ellis keep in mind...those kids...the ones we shouldn't do anything else for in Warminster...they are our future! They are the ones who will take of services for us as we age. They are the ones who will develop our futures and run our townships. They need to be well rounded. It's not about just playing...it's about the lessons they learn along the way.
HONEST MOM September 28, 2012 at 11:58 AM
It does cost to rent the WREC if you are using it for a PRIVATE function. The WREC offered free play in the gym several times a week and I believe Warminster Basketball uses the gym there free of charge. The league is offered at a reasonable price to all residents.
john fitzgerald December 20, 2012 at 08:40 PM
How much is it costing Warminster for Valerie Piper and Milligan & Company? Is it a sure thing that there will be any return on that investment, just a good marketing strategy on their part? Do they guarantee that Warminster will even see a dime of that $1.7 million from the state?

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