Since spring, Edward Coar, the Director of Planning for the Wayne County Department of Planning said the Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance has been talking about passing a resolution to designate Route 6 as a scenic byway. At Palmyra Township's November meeting, he provided additional information about the project.
Of the 114 municipalities throughout Pennsylvania that are involved, Coar said, so far between 22 to 25 of the communities have passed resolutions. Now, he is working on providing every municipality with the appropriate information. The presentations that have been given, he said have been, "very one-sided." He explained that, the presentations acknowledged how the designation would promote tourism. But, in the meantime, there is another side and so he is trying to inform the municipalities that there are additional details that need to be discussed. Whether municipalities decide to join the project, Coar said that isn't his concern, instead he is trying to provide people with all of the information.
Throughout northern Pennsylvania, Route 6 is 427 miles long and 11 counties are involved in the potential project. For the designation to occur, Coar said the Route 6 Alliance has to take additional steps. Coar said that he insisted that the starting point be at the state level, which can, "be done through a grass roots effort." That way, the local municipalities and individual contacts were involved. Another way of the project proceeding was by trying to get state legislators to pass a law that Route 6 is a Pennsylvania byway.
Once the appropriate steps are taken to move the project along, Coar said the Route 6 Heritage group wants the plan to be designated as an all American road in addition to being a scenic byway. If the plan follows a legislative path, there will be more opportunities for funding, which Coar said is one of the, "selling points of this whole program." At this time however, he explained that transportation funding is, "very tight," in the United States.
The representatives from the 114 municipalities will have to create a corridor management plan which lays out all of the details required to develop and preserve the many qualities of the scenic byway. With such projects, although a byway would be good for tourism, Coar pointed out that there are issues that need to be considered, such as regulation of private land and more responsibilities for local governments to manage land use. Plus, local officials may have to uphold the designation, and having to work with all of the other municipalities may be difficult as everyone has an opinion about how the plan should be developed, he said.
As for the role of the Palmyra Township supervisors, Coar said the Route 6 Alliance is looking for municipalities to pass a resolution if the areas want to support a corridor management plan and signing of regulations. Of the entire project, Coar said there are, "advantages and disadvantages."
Page 2 of 2 - Joann Kmetz questioned how 114 counties will be able to agree upon governing the road, when people in one county or one township can't agree. Coar replied that, this plan is a way to, "homogenize the governing process across Route 6," by having people agree with one another.
A member of the public asked whether the plan will cause a burden on the township because of the possibility of having to defend lawsuits. Township Solicitor Jeff Treat responded that, the zoning setup in the township is supposed to be in the commercial corridor. So people are being told what they can and can't do in a commercial zone, which are, "two inconsistent goals," he said.
Because things may work differently for the many municipalities, Supervisor Joe Kmetz said he didn't feel the township should get involved. To which, Supervisor Bill Hamby agreed. (Chairman Peter Steffen was absent.)
••• Nature trail concerns
Township Zoning Officer Dennis Mynarski mentioned a, "reoccurring nightmare," in regards to the nature trail that is planned from the D&H Lock 31 Canal Park in the township, parallel to Route 6 into Hawley.
The project promoted by the Downtown Hawley Partnership would continue the existing Wallenpaupack Creek Trail at Lake Wallenpaupack. Pending approval from PPL, the trail would extend through the utility company land in Pike County, passing behind the Hawley Silk Mill. It would come out at Cromwell Avenue. Hikers could continue through Hawley on the Riverside Park trail and n Bingham Park.
A later, proposed phase would take the trail on the D&H Canal towpath behind Settler's Inn. To reach the existing towpath trail in the D&H Lock 31 Canal Park, the path would need to follow in the Route 6 right-of-way in front of the private properties which includes Compton's Garage and other businesses.
Coar said he has not heard anything about the project, but Mynarski said the issue is, "starting to rear its ugly head again." Although a large portion of the trail would be in the township, Mynarski said no one has approached the supervisors and it appears as area businesses aren't interested because of a concern for liability. Projects like a trail, Coar said he finds that people tend to be, "very leery."
Palmyra Township's next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 3rd at 7 p.m.
••• For information about the Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance online visit www.paroute6.com.