Hawley Parks & Recreation Commission have recommended to Borough Council that the borough should partner with a regional recreational trail group, to facilitate a study and chance for being awarded state grants.

HAWLEY - Hawley Parks & Recreation Commission have recommended to Borough Council that the borough should partner with a regional recreational trail group, to facilitate a study and chance for being awarded state grants.

Grant Genzlinger brought an update on the progress on the trail project that extends from Lake Wallenpaupack through Hawley, during the January 30th Parks & Rec meeting.

He urged participation in the Wayne & Pike Trails & Waterways Alliance. This is an informal partnership of people interested in creating and promoting a network of land and water trails. Genzlinger added that it also includes the railroad; Tom Myles, who is the owner of the local Delaware Lackawaxen & Stourbridge Railroad, is on the steering committee and is actively pursuing a walking path alongside the tracks.

Quality of life

Trails, Genzlinger pointed out, help improve quality of life, as well as boost the local economy.

A description of the effort promoted by Sawmill Cycles online, states that recreational trails become a destination for visitors and the local public, promoting health and well-being natural assets and a sense of history and community.

The Alliance has raised the money and has been awarded a grant to do a feasibility study commissioned by the Wayne County Commissioners. This study would examine how to connect trails and waterways, from the western edge of Wayne County, following the Lackawaxen River through Honesdale and Hawley.

The Honesdale trail group is studying connection of various trail areas in that area.
The Alliance is approaching Pike County to do the same feasibility study to take the trails to Shohola and south to Milford to join the National Park Service trails.

In the Alliance’s favor, he noted, is a look at the Pennsylvania strategic trail maps through 2025 currently lack Wayne and Pike counties.

The Alliance notes that the rail trail may eventually extend all the way to Lackawaxen. In the long term, the vision is to link existing trail areas, include Prompton State Park, Dorflinger Suydam Sanctuary in White Mills, Promised Land State Park and the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway on New York State 97.

Hawley can benefit

Genzlinger said that elements of the Hawley area trail project should be included in the strategic plan. He volunteered to represent Hawley on the Alliance steering committee.
He said Hawley was a little ahead in that there is already a conceptual and strategic plan.

Pennsylvania DCNR is the funding partner. With Hawley aboard, elements such as a proposed boat ramp at Bingham Park or realigning the trail for safe parking could be part of the grant application, he said.

Among of the long term dreams in the local region include building a foot bridge across the Lackawaxen River, connecting the Stourbridge Railroad to the trails at D&H Canal Park at Lock 31, a mile west of Hawley.

(One may envision the potential of a future train excursion to the annual Canal Festival hosted by the Wayne County Historical Society, with train passengers crossing the bridge.)
Another foot bridge has been proposed in Hawley, under the Bingham Park renovations that the borough is currently considering. This later phase of the park project would allow a way for pedestrians to cross between Bingham Park and Riverside Park, both parks being part of the overall Hawley trail system.

Hawley -Lake trail

Pending full approvals, the entire local trail system would extend from the Tafton Dike to the Canal Park, a distance of 16 miles (round trip). Limited to pedestrians only, the system includes the existing Wallenpaupack Lake Trail and the Wallenpaupack Creek Trail, both established in 2010. The latter follows a part of the power company flow line behind the dam, alongside the creek bed.

The Trail Committee continues to negotiate with Brookfield Renewable Energy for permission to access their land for the Gorge Trail section. This picks up at the end of the Wallenpaupack Creek Trail and extends on an old lumbering road on the ridge in back of the Hawley Silk Mill and other areas. It comes out at Cromwelltown, just before the county bridge at the foot of the Paupack Falls, in the Eddy section of Hawley.

He said that Brookfield continues to express a willingness to move forward. Their next requirement is to have a survey done. The Committee has engaged a surveyor to do this work before March. Once that is done, Brookfield can review it and comment.

Genzlinger stressed he did not know how quickly this would occur. They hired a grants writer, Jim Martin, to seek funding to construct the Gorge Trail. He said he hopes they can still meet the grant application deadline in 2018.

From there the trail would reach Riverside Park and use the existing levee walking path.  Between Cromwelltown and the Riverside Park  walkers would use Falls Avenue and Paupack Street.

The “Connector Trail” leads from Bingham Park, behind The Settlers Inn and along Historical Society property, ending at the commercial garage property. This trail section is along the towpath of the 19th century canal.

Genzlinger stated that improvements to this section are almost complete. They have only to connect the towpath to the Route 6 road shoulder. An agreement to do this is in place between the Historical Society and PennDOT. It will permit walkers to enter the public right-of-way bike path on Route 6, and reach the beginning of the Canal Park towpath section just up the road.

An engineer is finishing the design of the short connection to the road, and a contractor has been selected. He said he did not know when this work would occur. They are doing some fund-raising to finish. The trail has been cleared, benches are in place, and a scout is building a kiosk to display historic information.

They have the money raised for trail signs in the borough.

Parks & Rec member/Councilwoman Elaine Herzog, said that the trail plan dovetails with the separate strategic plan being developed for Bingham Park improvements.

Genzlinger asked the Bingham Park plan contain an overlay map that also shows the broader picture of Hawley parks, namely Riverside Park. He stated that this could be crucial for grant applications.

Chairman P.J. Dougherty said he would ask the team behind the Bingham Park proposal to keep that in the periphery.

The local Trail Committee is part of the Downtown Hawley Partnership.

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[More meeting items are found in the Saturday, Feb. 3rd print edition.] Hawley Parks & Rec Commission meets on the last Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at Borough Hall.

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For more information about the Alliance trail vision, visit online:
https://sawmillcycles.com/2017/03/25/wayne-pike-trails-waterways-alliance/