Advancing connection

Plans are coming to life

Posted 12/16/20

Is it too early to talk about snow? Nah. 

When it accumulates this season, I’ll be dusting off snowshoes to stroll the woods of Gibbons Memorial Park: These 50 acres or so, surrounding …

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Advancing connection

Plans are coming to life

Posted

Is it too early to talk about snow? Nah. 

When it accumulates this season, I’ll be dusting off snowshoes to stroll the woods of Gibbons Memorial Park: These 50 acres or so, surrounding Irving Cliff’s downtown overlook, are a gem to explore. The many trails, hills and sloping forest plateaus make for ideal hiking conditions.

This park can hide in plain sight. The cliff itself looms large above town—a river valley beacon—yet the extent of common ground can be shaded by trees. Some time ago, a local resident gifted this area to Honesdale Borough. That gift keeps on giving to generations of woodland meanderers and viewshed reflectionists.

Such is the story of many public lands: They are an initial gift, given to the people and held thereafter in common for all to share. Much of the parkland we hold dear was carved out of the market ages ago. These places, now sacred, hold inter-generational value. Stories of their creation often get lost in the shuffle; new stories are created as people continue shuffling around. It’s easy to take shared spaces for granted, alongside the collective effort put into keeping them available for everyone.

Historical perspective can come in moments of fresh opportunity. The past stories of how something was made serve as inspiration for present-day wonderings of “now, what if… ?”

Currently, some new parks are being planned for Honesdale. One is proposed for Industrial Point near the confluence of the Dyberry Creek and the Lackawaxen River. This famous water union, where the town’s former name (Dyberry Forks) was sourced, makes for an ideal public access point. Another is proposed for downstream beneath the 4th Street bridge by CVS.

These open, newly designed spaces are oriented around the river. They would exist as their own special areas and, vitally, as part of larger networks connecting downtown to the river, the river to people, people to being better able to walk around, and Honesdale to Hawley. Those enhanced elements crack the doors of potential wide open.

Near CVS, there’s the potential to have a walking path pass under the bridge to provide a safer way of crossing a busy intersection. Back upstream, there’s the potential to have a showcase water access in vertical alignment with our overlooking cliff and, potentially, even the reuse of an existing, century-old warehouse for any number and mix of uses. Combined, these two new public spaces would instantly enhance the existing park network while advancing various connectivity goals of people and place.

Grant funds are being pursued for all of the above and everything falls within the scope of ongoing/recently-completed county, regional and local planning initiatives. It’s an exciting time. Plans are coming to life. The stories of how things get made, things we hold dear and sometimes take for granted, are being written once again. Stay tuned and get involved as interested. These stories can be as much yours as anyone else’s.

In a moment of transition, a lingering downcycle to keep our neighbors safe, and the insistence on certain outlets to weave fairy tales of things being torn down into our world view, it’s encouraging and heartening to know so many plans are in the works to build our neighborhoods up. Speaking of, be sure to shop local, wear a mask, remember the value of a popular vote and double-check your news sources this holiday season.

Derek Frey Williams, building reuser and river walker, from Canaltown. Visit interweb portals @canaltown552.com for more local landscape stories.

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