Newtown News Update

Hello ,

Welcome to the May 21, 2020, issue of Newtown News Update. Back issues and subscribing information can be found here.  If you do not wish to receive further updates, please use the "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom of this email. The opinions expressed here are solely the those of John Mack and do not reflect the opinions of any other person or entity.

Newtown Township Preparing to Help #COVID-19 Impacted Businesses Reopen Safely

At the May 13, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) Zoom meeting, I put forward the idea for establishing some kind of panel of citizens to advise the township on ways to help local businesses to reopen safely during the current and the next phases of COVID-19 restrictions. The following 32-minute podcast features a recording of the resulting discussion. You can view the entire Zoom meeting here.

Click on image to play the podcast.

No decision was made at that meeting, but at the May 18, 2020, Work Session via Zoom, the BOS decided to "reconstitute" the dormant Economic Development Committee to assist the BOS in connection with economic development in Newtown Township in general and to specifically assist in the preparation and direction of the reopening of businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few goals of the Committee as originally established in 2017, include:

  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in various business sectors and ways to improve business sectors that are underserved;
  • Identify business sectors that are driving the economy in other areas and formulate a plan to attract those businesses to Newtown;
  • Conduct resident and business surveys through reasonable means available to the Township to help identify community needs and desires not currently available;
  • Identify economic incentives available through the Township, County, State and Federal government to attract development and redevelopment to the Township;
  • Corroborate with the Township Administration and Board of Supervisors to identify improvements in zoning, planning, permitting and other areas relevant to the advancement of business development within the Township;
  • Assist current and future businesses with understanding and complying with Township regulations to help bolster business activity and improve business relationships between the Township and the private sectors;
  • Any and all other reasonably related goals.

Note that the mission items will be updated to include work products - e.g., guidelines - related to COVID-19 economic recovery.

Apply to Be a Member

The Committee shall consist of not more than 9 members, appointed by the Board of Supervisors, with the understanding that not more than three members may serve on the Committee who are not residents or own property within Newtown Township. The three persons who are not Newtown Township residents or property owners must be employed and/or working in Newtown Township to be qualified. Find more details here.

Applications will be accepted until June 1, 2020. Please submit a letter of interest and resume to Olivia Kivenko, Newtown Township, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA 18940, or by email to

The COVID-19 pandemic mitigation efforts are having a devastating impact on Newtown area businesses including restaurants and retail shops that cannot “work from home” or do business online!

During this trying time, these establishments – many owned by local residents – need help generating business. That is why several Newtown area businesses & restaurants decided to participate Newtown BINGO! - a “contest” based on “Tempe Bingo” – a game designed to benefit local businesses.

Download the current BINGO! card and find the rules for playing the game to achieve BINGO! and win prizes here.

Your Decision: Send Your Child to Summer Camp or Not?

Newtown is planning to open summer camps this year (read "Newtown Twp Moving Forward With Summer Camp Plans") and, if so, may follow a recently release Centers for Disease Control (CDC) "Decision Tree" to aid COVID-19 pandemic re-opening decisions for opening camps (see below).

How comfortable would you be sending your child/children to summer camp?

That is the question I asked in an online survey started on May 10, 2020. As of May 20, 2020, fifty-two local area residents answered that question under two different conditions:

  1. if there were no guidelines at all, and
  2. if CDC guidelines like those below were followed.

The following chart shows the result.

Over half (54%) of respondents would feel "not comfortable at all" (27%) or "very uncomfortable" (27%) even with CDC "guidelines" in place. By my estimate, that could mean actual registrations for Newtown summer camp may be 40% lower than normal. A final decision on whether or not Newtown will open summer camps will be made by the end of May, 2020. You can still take my survey here.

The results of this survey may not be shared with the Newtown Township Parks & Rec Department. If you would like to share your opinions with the township, please call 215-968-2800 x239 or email or visit the Newtown Fun website before May 31, 2020.

CDC's "Decision Tree" for Opening Summer Camps

Comments from Respondents

“Its too hard to give kids this summer experience it isn't what they will enjoy and too hard to keep reminding kids about distancing wearing mask not playing with kids etc. They may as well lay and run at home in their backyard with siblings without restrictions.” – A Newtown Borough resident who would feel “Very uncomfortable” sending his/her child to summer camp with CDC guidelines in place.

“Camp is a FUN thing for my kids to go to. But, how are these kids just gonna clean their hands and not wear masks. And if they do wear mask, it’s very hot during the summer. It’s not safe! It needs to put rescheduled for next summer.” – A Newtown Township resident who would feel “Not comfortable at all” sending his/her child to summer camp with CDC guidelines in place.

“Guidelines must be in place and clear. Ours is playground camp so I'd want it to be mostly outdoors. Bathroom situation makes me nervous.” – a Lower Southampton Township resident who would feel “Somewhat comfortable” sending his/her child to summer camp with CDC guidelines in place.

“All it takes is one case to spread throughout the community! I trust the staff and adults involved but it is irresponsible to put others lives at risk.” – a Newtown Township resident who would feel “Not comfortable at all” sending his/her child to summer camp with CDC guidelines in place.

“Controlled numbers in attendance and a genuine effort to keep children active but somewhat separated are concerns.” – a Lower Makefield resident who would feel “Very comfortable” sending his/her child to summer camp with CDC guidelines in place.

“I had my child signed up before Covid. Now I’m really not sure if I will send my child or not. My concerns are it’s hard for children to socially distance and as of now we haven’t gotten info on how the camp will change so I’m taking a wait and see approach since it’s still early May.” – a Newtown Township resident who would feel “Very uncomfortable” sending his/her child to summer camp with CDC guidelines in place.

One Final Note

Compared with the "Guidelines" CDC submitted to the White House, which were rejected, the decision trees released on May 14, 2020, are light on actual guidelines and are more or less just suggestions. As one person said "A PR hack response. We fund CDC with tax $ to give it to us straight. Do it."

Access to Every Article I Wrote While a Newtown Township Supervisor!

I have created an index to dozens of articles published in Newtown News Update and News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents e-newsletters going back to August 2017. It’s an interesting look back on issues that I have had to deal with as a Newtown Township Supervisor.

Articles are arranged by topic:

  • Communications
  • Development
  • Discrimination
  • Drugs & Opioid Epidemic
  • Environment
  • Finances
  • Governance
  • Infrastructure
  • Miscellaneous
  • Public Health & Safety
  • Quality of Life
  • Traffic & Parking
  • Zoning

Go to the index…

John Mack