A crucial step towards creating a hiking trail connecting Lake Wallenpauapack and Hawley Borough is gaining permission from the land owner, Brookfield Renewable.

PALMYRA TWP. (Pike) - A crucial step towards creating a hiking trail connecting Lake Wallenpauapack and Hawley Borough is gaining permission from the land owner, Brookfield Renewable. The power company has returned the easement agreement with only a few modifications, Anthony Waldron, solicitor for Palmyra Township, Pike County, reported. He told the supervisors, February 19, that the final agreement may be ready for signatures in early April.

Waldron said he had received a slightly revised easement from Brookfield, Feb. 15. The company seeks assurance that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulations not be violated.

He noted that the new trail will not actually follow the FERC—controlled pipeline (or flow line).

The company wants to see that the insurance is in place, although the township’s insurance company won’t add anything prior to the township having signed onto. Waldron advised inserting that insurance would be added within 30 days prior to construction.

The Downtown Hawley Partnership (DHP) Trail Committee will be applying for a state grant to fund building the trail, but the signed easement is necessary before the application can be made. The application deadline is May 31.

He told the supervisors, “No action has to be taken on it [that evening], but it is positive that they have followed through and they did not make any substantive changes.”

Brookfield reserves the right to close the trail. Waldron said it was understood the power company would close the trail for the winter months and set limitations on what hours the trail can be used (such as only in daylight hours).

The committee would be responsible for cleaning the trail of trash and branches. There is an allowance for a machine to be brought in for necessary maintenance such as making repairs to a washout; Waldron said the Township would be responsible for that.

The trail will be open only for walkers ad hikers. No bicycles or motorized vehicles will be allowed for recreation. Waldron said that there will be rules posted at the beginning of the trail, at Cromwell Avenue. There is also discussion about putting in benches and informational signs, provided by DHP.

He expressed hope that the document will be signed by the beginning of April, so it will be ready to make the application for the grant. The committee is seeking about $157,000 from the PA Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED).

The easement, Waldron said, is contingent on obtaining the grant funding.

The Trail Committee has been working on the trail proposal since about 2011. The committee had first approached PPL, a few years ago, with the concept of opening a trail that would connect the existing Wallenpaupack Creek Trail along PPL’s flow line just before the dam, and cross the power company’s land, coming out at Cromwell Avenue, very near the bridge into Hawley Borough and the base of the Paupack Falls.

This is known as the “Gorge Trail” as it crosses over the wooded ridge on the Pike County side of the natural gorge fashioned by the falls.

An agreement was delayed at first, pending completion of PPL’s high transmission line upgrade. PPL then sold their Lake Wallenpaupack hydroelectric facility, which subsequently changed hands again, to the present owner, Brookfield.

The Gorge Trail is one component of a larger proposed trail system that is being planned, through the Borough of Hawley and into Palmyra Township- Wayne County, connecting with the D&H Canal Park at Lock 31. The Gorge Trail section is one mile in length.

When completed, hikers will be able to walk on a trail system from Tafton Dike, to the Canal Park, a total distance of just short of eight miles.

Work on the Gorge Trail and the Hawley connecting trails within the borough began about 2011. Tafton Dike’s walkway has been in place several decades. The Hawley park trails were established in the first half of the 1990s. The Wallenpaupack Lake Trail was opened by the township, and the Wallenpaupack Creek Trail along part of the flow line was opened by PPL, in 2010. Wayne County Historical Society opened the D&H Canal Park, with a mile of towpath trail, in 2014.
The new trail work connects all these pieces together. An even larger connecting system is contemplated with a trail coming down from Honesdale and along the railroad berm.

[More township meeting items will be reported separately.]