Enthused by the plans for Bingham Park and thought behind how to make it a reality, Hawley Parks & Recreation Commission agreed February 27 to recommend that Borough Council proceed with the project.

HAWLEY – Enthused by the plans for Bingham Park and thought behind how to make it a reality, Hawley Parks & Recreation Commission agreed February 27 to recommend that Borough Council proceed with the project.

Commission members reviewed how the third public presentation went at Borough Hall, February 19. Chairman P.J. Dougherty said he thought it went well, and it was good to hear the input from the Wallenpaupack Little League president.

The project is being set forth by a group of interested businessmen and community leaders, all who have deep roots in Hawley and fond ties to Bingham Park. Wishing to improve the park, already a centerpiece for the community, they have stressed the need for the borough’s guidance and approval every step of the way and the crucial desire for public input.

These backers are Ronald Schmalzle, Joseph Adams, Craig Smythe and James Shook. The project as envisioned involves many facets and phases, to improve the park for various age groups and interests. It has been hailed as a strategic, planned approach, dedicated to being done right with careful planning, a timetable and assurance of funding sources. Grants and donations would pay for the work, and as designed, the project is meant to provide less costly maintenance.

Repairing and restoring the 1932 bandstand is top priority and may be one item they can expect to do this year, Dougherty said. Dove-tailed with the bandstand is the plan to upgrade the electrical service.

Not “hodge-podge”

Council member/Park & Rec member Elaine Herzog expressed her pleasure in in how the project is expected to be accomplished.  She noted the fact that it will follow a solid plan, rather than “a hodge-podge as in the past.”

Certain elements, such as a turf surface for the multi-purpose ballfield and an eventual foot bridge to Riverside Park, were described as “wish list” items that would be more costly.

“I’m excited,” Chairman Dougherty said, “but it can’t be done overnight.”
He said that the proposed bridge would make an easy walk between the ball field in Bingham Park to the ball field in Riverside Park (as well as a connection for the trail system in both parks).

Dougherty said that a contact at the major potential funding source for the project, PA Department on Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR), is very intrigued by the plans to tie in the park upgrade with waterway recreation. This involves improving an access to the Lackawaxen River off of Park Place, for both fishing and launching canoes and kayaks.

Herzog advised checking to see how much excavating would be required for the river access, and if it is enough to trigger required state archaeological impact studies. These would be both costly and time consuming.

The whole park project is being seen as a hub to regional outdoor recreation, with ties to extensive, planned hiking trails, the river and the railroad which on top of the train excursions, may also be offering a hiking path alongside the tracks.

A website has been set up for the Bingham Park project. See: www.binghampark.org.  Comments and questions are welcome from the public; they may be directed by email to fun@binghampark.org.

Also discussed:

P.J. Dougherty volunteered to manage the schedules for the ball teams requesting use of the ball fields this year. The schedule would be posted on the Bingham Park website. Herzog advised that the site be linked with the Hawley Borough website (www.hawleyborough.org).

Borough Administrator Andrea Racht has been preparing the contract for the Hawley Community Garden. 2018 will be the first full season for the garden, which was placed next to the Hawley Public Library building last year by volunteers. 

For a fee, a raised garden bed may be rented to grow flowers or vegetables. There are 11 beds available; first refusal will be offered to those who rented them for half the growing season last year. A 12th bed is set aside for the children’s programs at the Library. Park & Rec member Dick Briden said that there is space left to put in two or three more garden beds, without expanding the fenced area.

Hawley Parks & Rec meets at Borough Hall on the last Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m.