John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

The Noisy, Motley, Polite 8th Annual Newtown Irish Festival!

Billed as the “the greatest weekend of the year in Newtown” by some, the 8th Annual Newtown Irish Festival reached its crescendo in the outdoor tent at the Green Parrot Restaurant & Pub on St. Patrick's day.

Other people, including some nearby Newtown Borough residents, do not think the festival is so great (watch this short video clip of the pro and con debate before the February 14, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting). I’ve even heard criticisms that the Festival brings “drunken hooligans” into our quiet, peaceful town!

Larry Kirwan

I’m not of Irish descent, but like everybody else, I’m Irish on St. Paddy’s Day. This year my wife and I decided to join the celebrations.

First, on St. Patrick's day eve, we attended a concert by Larry Kirwan at the Zlock Performing Arts Center on the Bucks County Community College campus.

Through a mixture of story-telling, acting, and singing Kirwan brought Irish history alive with emphasis on The Great Hunger of 1847, Emigration to America, The Celtic Revival, 1916 Uprising, and the recent “Troubles.” Kirwan ended the concert with a call for a united Ireland!

But I just had to see – and hear – for myself what all the hubbub was about regarding the Newtown Irish Festival. So, my wife and I decided to use all my “influence” – i.e., a $23 Event Bright ticket – to get into the tent on Saturday night around 6 pm.

I guess you could say that the crowd was “motley.” But I would also say they were polite as we wended our way through the crowd to reach the bar and order a couple of beers. We then had to squeeze through more attendees to get to a spot where we could see the band and claim a few square feet of floor space.

The “Motley” Crew – including wifey in red – waiting patiently to
get inside the tent at the Green Parrot.

The music was loud and punctuated with more or less “relentless pounding bass” that encouraged some people to dance and many to sing along to favorite “Irish” songs like “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver! The following clip may be more representative of Irish songs sung at the festival:


At the Green Parrot Irish Festival in Newtown.

A post shared by John Mack (@johnmacknewtown) on

I’ll have to wait and see if there was any police action – I certainly did not see any rowdy behavior when I was there. What I did see was a bus that provided free transportation to anywhere within 3 miles of the event. I also saw that the surrounding restaurants were crowded with long waits to get seated. When we asked how long the wait was at the Sycamore Grill, we were told “longer than you want to wait.”

I applaud the owners of the Green Parrot as well as the neighbors in the Borough for reaching a compromise regarding this year’s Festival; namely, accepting a 2-day permit for the outdoor portion of the event rather than four days as was originally planned. Nevertheless, the Festival lasted 4 days – 2 days inside on the porch and 2 days outside in the tent.

Posted on 17 Mar 2018, 18:01 - Category: Newtown

Frost Lane Traffic Study

Recently, a resident of Frost Lane complained to the Township about speeding traffic on her street. As you may know, Goodnoe School is located on Frost Lane, which the resident dubbed “Frost Freeway.” It’s a 25 mph zone and during certain school hours the speed limit is 15 mph. So any speeding on that street is a concern.

When I made an inquiry regarding this issue, Kurt Ferguson, the Township Manager informed me: "Typically these traffic issues are investigated by our staff.  We have the ability to measure traffic speed, total cars, as well as looking as site lines, etc. Typically this would be assigned to staff to investigate and to report results to the board."

Within a few days, the Police Department performed a “stealth stat” survey of the traffic flow on Frost Lane. Mr. Ferguson described how this is done at the March 14, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting:

Some of the results are summarized in the following charts:

Here are some more details:

  • On the Thursday-Friday survey period, 102 of 851 cars (12%) were going more 10 mph over the speed limit when the posted speed limit was 25 mph.

  • On the Friday-Saturday survey period, 914 of 3,096 cars (29.5%) were going more 10 mph over the speed limit. Most of those cars were surveyed on when the posted speed limit was 25 mph.

  • The school zone area was done on a Thursday and Friday. There were a total of 2,643 cars with 1,070 of those cars going over 10 mph over the posted speed limit of 15 mph.  That's obviously a concerning number.

Mr. Ferguson said the Township will do speed enforcement on selected Saturdays and during the 15 mph school zone speed limit as well.

Posted on 15 Mar 2018, 14:20 - Category: Traffic

Summary of February 14, 2018 BOS Meeting

You May not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from the biweekly meetings of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS), so I created this summary from the February 14, 2018, meeting. I also included some links to related information including video clips from meetings. I'll do the same for future meetings.

Topic Excerpts from BOS Feb 14 2018 Minutes
2018 Budget Mr. Calabro commented on what he read by a former Board of Supervisor member regarding the misrepresentation the former supervisor made to the budget which was passed on February 7, 2018. The person stated that taxes were raised one million dollars, increasing taxes by $168 per year. 1 mil is not one million dollars. 1 mil equates to approximately $340,000 which is roughly a $40.00 per year increase. It made it appear that taxes were being raised exorbitantly.
Crime Stats There were 1,330 calls during January, 222 of which were in Wrightstown. Some of the highlights are 3 burglaries, 5 DUIs, 1 death, 4 domestic, 3 drug investigations 5 frauds, 9 thefts, 19 property damages, 5 hit/run, 59 suspicious activity and 145 medical emergencies. More...
Irish Festival Newtown Borough Resident Cherie Peters spoke on behalf of her neighbors on Edge, State, Sycamore, Congress, Frost, etc., some local business people, some Borough council members, church, etc., located near the Green Parrot regarding the upcoming Irish Festival. Bob Lutz, co-partner of the Green Parrot, said he was surprised that the days of the Festival were reduced from four days to two days when they have operated the Festival for eight years this way without incident. Other comments made by residents. Read "The Green Parrot Irish Festival Spurs Debate", view the video.
Nina’s Waffles & Ice Cream This building is the Toll House and is a part of the conditionally approved Brixmor development. Items outlined in the Planning Engineer’s response letter were discussed, such as, hours of operation, ADA compliance, landscape buffer fronting Durham Road, maximum employees during a shift, and deliveries. Proposed improvements to the exterior of the building is proposed seating areas. The Commission approved the conditional use. Motion for approval passed 4-0. Read "Nina's Waffles Coming to Newtown", view the video.
Pickering Manor A plan was submitted proposing an approximate 18,200 sq. ft. two-story building addition to the main building and additions to three of the five existing cottage buildings. Expanded parking and driveway facilities and an underground seepage bed for storm water management is also proposed.
Water Quality Mr. Mack referred to a news item that cyanide had been poured down a storm drain. He spoke to Dan Angrove, Assistant General Manager of Newtown Artesian Water Company, and was assured there was never a threat to the water supply. Other municipalities also performed testing and no toxicity was found. If there is an emergency, the water company would put a reverse 911 system into effect to notify people or would have door hangers placed. More...


Posted on 01 Mar 2018, 15:35 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

How Well Do You Know Your Rights to View Public Documents?

I have a personal interest in access to public information. At the July 6, 2017, Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board meeting, before I was elected Supervisor, I asked Solicitor James J. Auchinleck, Jr, if it was OK for me to use my cell phone to video record part of the meeting. My polite request was denied and consequently I have no video record of my testimony in opposition to KVK Tech’s request for zoning variance (if you are interested, you can read a version of my comments as recorded in the minutes of that meeting here).

Citizens from across the country are now gearing up for this year’s Sunshine Week – March 11-17 – to once again spark a nationwide discussion about the critical importance of access to public information. Sunshine Week was created by the American Society of News Editors and is now coordinated in partnership with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, but freedom of information isn’t just a press issue. It is a cornerstone of democracy, enlightening and empowering people to play an active role in their government at all levels. It helps keep public officials honest, makes government more efficient and provides a check against abuse of power.

To participate in this “event,” I decided to host a Right-to-Know Quiz. This short, 6-question quiz (below) tests your knowledge of the PA Right-to-Know Law and provides information about how to make requests for public records from Newtown Township.


Create your own user feedback survey

Posted on 01 Mar 2018, 01:56 - Category: Governance

Newtown Township Traffic Impact Fee Advisory Committee

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors is currently accepting resumes for consideration for the Newtown Township Traffic Impact Fee Advisory Committee (TIFAC). Resumes will be accepted until 12:00 noon on Monday, April 12, 2018.

The TIFAC assists with developing studies required for the adoption of the Ordinance regulating traffic impact fees, and provides recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for approval or disapproval of reports at various stages of the process, in accordance with Pennsylvania Act 209 and the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. All applications will be considered, however,  professionals with backgrounds in Real Estate, Development, and the building industry that reside or conduct business in Newtown Township are strongly urged to apply. The TIFAC will coordinate with professional traffic engineers and will be primary focused on assessing existing traffic conditions throughout the Township, developing recommendations for potential traffic improvements – such as location of additional traffic signals, and developing impact fees for future development based on potential traffic improvements.

Please submit a letter of interest and resume to Olivia Kivenko, Newtown Township, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown PA 18940, by email to or by fax at (215)968-5368.

Posted on 28 Feb 2018, 15:20 - Category: Development

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