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12th Street Connector Park design approved by Honesdale Council

The Honesdale Borough Council on June 24 approved a design for a new park for the first block of 12th Street, from the Main Street bridge to Church Street. As planned, traffic would remain one-way, single-lane only, making room for a shaded spot to relax and enjoy the Lackawaxen River or continue a walk along the river on a path now being built by the county.

The “12th Street Connector Park” resolution approved by council is intended to support additional grants needed for the Greater Honesdale Partnership (GHP) to build the park and authorizes GHP’s oversight responsibility and requires accountability to the borough. Jayson Wood of Woodland Design Associates presented the plans to council that evening.

Brian Wilken of the GHP board hailed this as an inviting northern “gateway” to downtown. It is related to the current revitalization program for Main Street which emphasizes public safety and aesthetics.

Wood said his company has been working with GHP for over a year developing designs. The draft, approved by the council, shows this section of 12th Street restricting westbound traffic only, from the church to main streets, in the lane closest to the sidewalk and buildings. The second lane, along the river bank, will become a park.

“We were trying to figure out what’s a good scale of space to try to let people gather, have benches where people can watch the river and just have a nice place to be.” Wood said. “It would benefit … restaurants; you grab a bite to eat or something from one of our great stores in our city and you can just go to the public space and just enjoy that view, enjoy a moment of sunshine.”

Wilken added, “What we’re creating in town is a riverwalk. It’s something like this type of investment that will bring people to town.”

He said people can walk along the Lackawaxen from the former Stourbridge School on West Park Street (Park Street Complex) to the 12th Street park and connect to the separate park the county is building down the street at the former Industrial Point, to be renamed Sycamore Point.

The design allows this section of 12th Street to be closed to traffic for street fairs and other events. Retractable bollards can be raised to block off the street.

“Not only for tourists, but it’s a great thing for people who live here to enjoy the river and my vision is that it’s the diocese that helps bring people here with their businesses, with their family to live here, to be here ,” Wilken continued.

“We need younger people here. We need families here. We need people to invest here,” Wilken said. “You travel across America, you see cities and rivers, they use the river as an attraction in the city.”

Wood noted that currently the riverbanks on both sides are overgrown with Japanese knotweed. On the Park Street side there are a couple of benches. Overall, he said, people are driving through what he called “a forgotten space.”

The design also removes the parallel parking spaces to add space for the park. A short retaining wall is added, with a gentle slope towards the water. Along the river is a floodplain regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers where structures cannot be built.

Five diagonal parking spaces are planned on the park side, one of which is handicapped accessible. Other components are a water station, benches and lighting.

Space is given for vehicles to pull forward for emergency vehicles.

Rather than a lawn, the design suggests decorative banded concrete where people can gather, with suitable shade trees on both sides of the street, Wilken said.

Wood stated that the materials planned for the park’s surface are sustainable and that the trees chosen require minimal maintenance. Councilor James Hamill suggested that GHP might want to “adopt” the section to pick up litter.

The design shows the “bolt out” at the end of 12th Street at the Main Street bridge, to assist pedestrians in the crosswalk. This safety feature is built in along the Main Street upgrade.

Councilwoman Noelle Mundy suggested an arch or other way to make the park stand out on Main Street. The final name of the park has not yet been chosen.

Hamill said state and local officials saw the connection of the Sycamore Point project and the downtown revitalization project as an opportunity for economic development. Hamill commented that the park will improve property values ​​and help attract “that young talent that we need.” Wilken noted that he has spoken with some businesses that are coming to town because of the revitalization efforts.

GHP previously announced state grants totaling $311,000 for the 12th Street project’s design and construction. While more is needed, Wood said it is GHP’s intention to raise all the funding, rather than leave it up to the district.

Council President James Brennan abstained, expressing concern to Wilken about whether there would be funding to remove the plum tree that fell that day, partially on Main Street and the rest leaning against the Limerick building he owns. He stated that GHP had the plum trees planted along Main Street.

Nilsen voted “no” to the plan, which passed 4-1-1 (Councilwoman Tiffany Rogers was absent).

Mayor Derek Williams said the plan is “inspiring” and evokes the postcard scenes of Honesdale around the turn of the 1800s when the Lackawaxen River along East Park Street was dammed to create “Park Lake.”

“Now we have a really beautiful opportunity to have something very nice like that again thanks to the hard work of GHP, Woodland Design and the Borough Council, and citizens who worked together … for a very long time,” Williams said.

Peter Becker has worked at the Tri-County Independent or its predecessors since 1994. Reach him at [email protected] or 570-253-3055 ext. 1588.

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