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Riverwalck parking issue tabled

Published October 02. 2010 09:00AM

Members of the Lehigh Canal Recreation Commission tabled discussing the Riverwalck parking agreement on Thursday night because attorney William Schwab could not attend the meeting.

Schwab, East Penn Township's representative, wrote the agreement with Riverwalck.

The commission will discuss the Riverwalck agreement at the next meeting to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 28, at Schwab's office. Thursday's meeting was held at the home of commission member Dennis Bauschpies since the original location, the Weissport pavilion, was in danger of flooding.

Seven communities comprised the Lehigh Canal Commission. Each of the seven communities - Lehighton, Jim Thorpe, Weissport and Parryville boroughs; and Mahoning, Franklin and East Penn townships - have appointed a representative to the commission.

After he reviewed the commission's Intermunicipal Agreement in September, attorney Michael Greek, Parryville solicitor, told member communities in a letter that he had concerns for how the agreement affected Parryville. Greek said he was concerned about the parking being done on the canal commission property after hours and since Riverwalck is a commercial establishment, the commission does not have the right to issue commercial parking permits. There was also concern with the liability of people walking or being transported across Route 248 to patronize the Riverwalck business or to work there.

Mark Stemler, owner of Riverwalck, stated in a press release that he had permission from the Lehigh Canal Association to use the public parking area for employees of the Riverwalck Restaurant in Parryville.

"For the safety of my employees I will be using a shuttle system but feel that a crosswalk would address the problem in a more efficient manner," he noted. "Allowing safe access will benefit anyone that wishes to avail themselves of the recreational opportunities available in this area."

Stemler said he met with a representative of state Rep. Keith McCall to discuss a walkway that would go underneath Route 248 to resolve the issue.

Stemler and the Lehigh Canal Commission signed an agreement in June that provides payment to the Lehigh Canal Commission, $1,800 a year to use the parking area at Parryville.

Also discussed at the meeting was the Parryville bridge that is being looked at for possibly being a historic structure. The bridge is at the entrance of the Rock Hill Cement Co. and is located across the street from Riverwalck Saloon on Route 248.

Commission members said that the bridge had been constructed of cement, metal and railroad ties, and was destroyed by the heavy cranes being used to build the new Pa. Turnpike Bridge. Because the age and method of construction of the bridge are unknown, the issue has come to the attention of state historical preservationists and other state agencies.

Commission members said they have replaced the bridge, but they can't take out the old bridge until the issue is resolved.

Commission members also noted that five park benches recently have been vandalized.

The board also voted to purchase property and liability insurance at a cost of $957 a year. The insurance covers workers and volunteers.

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