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Making history in Wayne County; three-way collaboration on

May 9, 2012

For the first time in recent memory, three neighboring Wayne County municipalities are making plans together to improve parks and recreation programs in the region.

A committee of residents of Honesdale Borough, Bethany Borough and Texas Township have already met once and held a second meeting on April 26 in order to create a recreational plan for the three entities. The meeting was facilitated by Glenn K. Neuhs, senior community planner from the SSM Group Engineering and Environmental Services of Reading, PA. The project is called the Central Wayne Regional Comprehensive Plan.

The action comes as a result of a multi-municipal comprehensive planning process that began in 2007. The plan was completed months ago and is now ready to be implemented. The parks and recreation piece is a part of the comprehensive plan that looks at ways to work together on a range of items.

While the officials from Dyberry Township have elected not to participate, some members of the committee are Dyberry residents.

At the April 26 meeting, the following projects were singled out for completion: improvements of the Little League ball park in Honesdale, improvement of the Apple Grove/Veterans/Honesdale pool, Bethany band shell improvement, creation of a skate park at Apple Grove, construction of a new YMCA community center, improvements to Gibbons Park, expansion of the Lackawanna River park with trails, development of a White Mills park, playground construction at North Triangle Park, canoe and kayak launch areas within parks, expansion of pedestrian and bicycle access to fairgrounds and establishment of pedestrian access along Route 6 south of Honesdale.

“The main source of funding will probably have to come from grants and from contributions of residents and businesses,” Neuhs said. “Additional money would be difficult without a tax increase because of the fiscal constraints in the borough. It will have to be determined whether there is supposed to be a dedicated 2 mil recreation tax established for the borough.”

A new YMCA facility could cost an estimated $12,000,000, but the organization does not have money for construction, said Tina Hoehn, executive director.

According to a questionnaire taken in the three towns, a large majority of respondents, some 72%, support improvements to or maintenance of existing parks and recreational facilities. Additionally, 58% supported the acquisition of additional property for parks.

The next meeting of the committee is Thursday, May 31 at 5 p.m. at the Honesdale borough building. The public is invited to attend.