Stating that they are providing expertise as a management team, a group of citizens interested in the long range development of Bingham Park stressed that Hawley Borough Council is the “CEO” whose approval and input will be needed as they go forward.

HAWLEY - Stating that they are providing expertise as a management team, a group of citizens interested in the long range development of Bingham Park stressed that Hawley Borough Council is the “CEO” whose approval and input will be needed as they go forward.

An hour packed with information was presented just prior to Hawley Council’s December 13th regular meeting. The presentation was made for the public and Council, to be informed of what is proposed and answer questions.

Council members, while expressing their enthusiasm, made clear that they sought assurance that a well thought-out plan, with a time line and good communication with the borough would guide the process. Elaine Herzog, of Council, explained that they may seem “a little gun shy” because of prior experience.

Joe Adams again said that he is not involved because he also happens to be a Wayne County commissioner. Rather, Adams, whose family has been connected with Hawley for five generations, loves his hometown, and has abundant experience planning major construction projects, from his time as a school administrator. Other members of the team include Jim Shook, owner of Lake Region IGA; Craig Smythe, owner of Clemleddy Construction and Ronald Schmalzle, a teacher at Wallenpaupack. Each of them, it was said, come with their expertise and shared interest to help their community.

“Visionaries” 

Although they pooled their funds to hire an engineer experienced in parks to develop a concept plan, they are not “investors” seeking financial return, Adams said.

Indeed, they are investing time and energy but for the good of the community. Herzog said she would refer to them as “visionaries.”

This came about when Smythe’s building company was helping to finish the restrooms and toddler playground starting in 2016. Smythe came to the conclusion that something needed to be done, Adams said. A strategic plan was needed, flexible and yet structured so they know the priorities, where funding would be sought and how each step would be taken. They started working on it in February; the draft concept plan they presented is the third version.

Proposals 

Here’s what is proposed:

Presently there is 11- 12 parking spots, with parking coming up to the bandstand. At big events, many people park across the street at Dollar General. The plan creates 74 spaces, along Park Place and a new parking configuration off Route 6 but away from the bandstand. The historic bandstand, which is seen as top priority for maintenance- including its electrical service, would be given more grassy area in front for people to be able to encircle most of the way and listen to concerts. Picnic pavilions could be added. The tennis courts would be revamped, with one tennis court and two pickle ball courts. The basketball court would move down across from borough hall, and the roller skating park would be relocated next to the basketball court where it can be better monitored. The two ball fields on the northern end, in the canal basin, would be upgraded. A pavilion and bleachers could be added along the embankment on Park Place. The lower field on the north end would be for baseball; the upper field, near the Route 6 and Hudson Street corner would be for softball.  Netting would be put up to keep stray balls away from the playgrounds.

The ball field on the south end would be eliminated. 

New, efficient LED lighting would be installed. Court lights would have timers. Electrical service would be upgraded. Soft epoxy trail surface would be applied to an upgraded walking path. Interpretive panels with park history could be placed. River access would be provided at the Lackawaxen River. A more long-range goal would be to install a foot bridge connecting Bingham Park and Riverside Park. 

$1 million or more 

Adams stated that the park would be redesigned with low maintenance in mind. The ballfields would receive the right sub-base and equipment would be upgraded. Costs of both maintenance and electric are expected to be lowered, given the materials that will be used, the quality of construction and standards that are expected.

The total cost for this project, as presented, is expected to be between one million and a million and a half dollars, Adams said. 

Rather than incur costs to the borough, various grant sources and other fundraising would be tapped. 

“It’s a lofty goal, it’s a big amount of money,” Adams stated, “but when you see the utilization of the park and you see the opportunity- people drive from Narrowsburg to let their children use the playground equipment… It’s a hub. It needs to be maintained and it will add value to everybody around it.”

Shook said that it will be done in stages, avery stage will involve a bid process. There will be start and finish dates, and contractors will be insured and bonded.

As far as a time table, Adams said he foresees it may take “three to five years” or up to seven, to raise the grants. Some items can be checked off the lost, he said, if monies can be raised locally. It’s very helpful, he said, that they have a strong relationship with local legislators.

Council President Ann Monaghan stressed that they don’t want to jeopardize potential for grants to pay for infrastructure that has to be done. Adams said that funding would be sought from PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR), which is not where infrastructure monies are sought. Other possible sources for the park project are Rails to Trails grants and state gaming funds. Adams said that they won’t allow grant applications for the park to compete with other borough needs.

Councilwoman Michelle Rojas said this is a good opportunity to work together on grants. She also said that the park plan should be incorporated into the current, ongoing discussion to revise the Joint Comprehensive Plan between the borough, and Palmyra and Paupack townships.

Adams stated that the project will be seen as a regional project, which can leverage extra money sources.

Economic opportunity 

“Economic development comes from opportunities like rails to trails, community projects, multiple sporting events, canoe and kayak access to the river,” Adams said. He likened it to Jim Thorpe, Pa., which saw an economic revitalization in making the town a desired attraction. The park project, he added, would help encourage more people to move here, and bring their business here.

High quality recreational projects help create economic development, he added, pointing to Lake Wallenpaupack as a prime example.

Herzog said her biggest concern is how the project will be administered? “The vision is great, the plan is great, but I want to see the execution piece.”

Adams stated that it won’t be a single audit expense.

Smythe stated that the four of them are the management team. Accountants will need to be hired, Adams said. 

“I built $220 million worth of school buildings, and we enforced liquidated damages twice in the 90’s at Wallenpaupack, when people didn’t do the job,” the former school administrator said. He said that these types of agreements will be required.

Borough in charge 

Smythe assured that they would work closely with the borough, with full transparency. “You’re the CEO overseeing the project, because it’s your asset,” Adams said.

They will need to come back with specific project costs, Smythe said. They will define the list of priorities and costs, and then determine where they will seek the funding.

Grant Genzlinger, who was in the audience, said he applauds anyone who adds to the quality of life in the community. He urged that the plan be developed with direct involvement of the Parks & Recreation Board.

The plan also needs to be made available to the public for input, Monaghan said.

A question about Park Place was raised. Herzog asked what their opinion would be about closing the junction with Hudson Street. Adams said that if the roadway was not closed, the elevation would need to be fixed to improve the sight distance.

Access needs to be maintained, to the private residence and the Senior Center on Park Place.

Police Chief Dan Drake said he commended the team, and said this was an asset to the borough. Councilwoman Christine Ferrara Murray said she agrees, and applauds their efforts.