Borough pledges $10K for river access

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 12/30/20

HONESDALE, PA — Becoming a fixture at the beginning of meetings, Molly Rodgers of the Wayne Pike Trails & Waterways Alliance once again spoke with the Honesdale Borough Council on December …

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Borough pledges $10K for river access

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HONESDALE, PA — Becoming a fixture at the beginning of meetings, Molly Rodgers of the Wayne Pike Trails & Waterways Alliance once again spoke with the Honesdale Borough Council on December 21, seeking support for a project to build an interconnected trail system along the Lackawaxen River from Honesdale to Hawley. The alliance gained the support it needed despite a fair amount of wariness from some councilors about what it would cost the borough.

Councilor Jim Jennings, chair of parks and recreation, pleaded with his fellow councilors to support the two projects involving the borough—creating river access near 12th Street and 4th Street.

“We could allocate funds to maintain these properties along with our other maintenance costs within the borough; we do that for Apple Grove, we do that for Irving Cliff,” Jennings said. “I think the overall idea is, do we want to be a council that looks to transformative projects in an incremental way... These are two very creative and community-led projects.”

Jennings made a motion to commit two $5,000 match grants with the PA Fish & Boat Commission. Solicitor Richard Henry suggested clarifying whether or not the borough’s financial responsibility to the projects ends there. The new motion would “commit 2021 Parks and Recreation tax income in the amount of $5,000 to the 4th Street river access and $5,000 to the 12th Street river access without pledging any further financial obligation or responsibility on Honesdale Borough.”

“We’re not sure if we want to go any further with this project,” Henry said. “The investment could be huge; the payoff could be terrific in terms of tourism.”

Rodgers said that the alliance is using other funding streams to complete the project and that none of the construction costs involved will fall to the borough.

Councilor Jim Brennan was hesitant to commit money toward the 4th Street Project, near the downtown CVS Pharmacy, because there is some confusion over who actually owns that property. President Mike Augello clarified that the borough will only be spending $5,000 if the project gets off the ground; if problems with the property owner prevent the project from starting, the borough won’t spend a penny. Rodgers also explained that in order to meet the grant deadline, the alliance needed the borough’s $10,000 pledge before the end of the year.

Jim Jennings made several motions, all essentially pledging the borough’s support of these two projects. Councilor Robert Jennings was the only member to vote no on all of the motions.

Later in the meeting, Jim Jennings announced that the borough’s CDBG Cares Act grants were accepted. He said that the money will go toward rent and mortgage relief and PPE dispersal.

On the subject of snow removal, Jim Jennings asked whether or not anything could be done about excess snow on the bridges in town. While bridges like the one at the end of Church Street are not the borough’s responsibility, Jennings was worried about residents’ safety walking across these bridges after significant snow storms. He had recently seen a man walking on a snowbank that was several feet high lining the Church Street bridge and said that the man could have easily fallen into the river.

Borough secretary/manager said that the borough office had received complaints about this, and said that they could either send a letter to PennDOT, or “go to the next level” and contact the county planning department, the county’s representative to PennDOT.

Jennings said, in general, he’d like to find agreements with other entities to ensure that Honesdale remains a safely walkable town during the winter, even when the amenities in question are not the borough’s responsibility.

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