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Impact of impending storm concerns Lehigh Canal Commission officials

Published August 27. 2011 09:01AM

Projects at the Lehigh Canal Park are moving along, but the impending storm this weekend has members of the Lehigh Canal Recreation Commission concerned about the damage that could occur to the towpath.

The Commission has not yet finished making repairs from the last high water event that took place in March.

Scott Everett of the Delaware and Lehigh National Corridor Commission said that a blade (a trail marker) has been installed at the trail head at Weissport and that the aging sign at the entrance also needs replacing.

Everett noted that a survey will be done on the types of grasses on the bank which survived to determine which need to be eliminated and how to proceed for next year. A wildflower mix may be added to the grass mix for next year.

Everett said that the canal towpath is in need of volunteers. On the last trail day, not one volunteer showed up to help.

"We are in need of volunteers especially since the impending storm may do severe damage to the towpath," he said.

Everett has met with Jim Thorpe Borough officials about two damaged areas, but they are still discussing their ways to proceed. One option involves a compost sock that is embedded with seeds that would build up the bank.

John Drury of Jim Thorpe, owner to the Mauch Chunk Museum and Cultural Center, made a presentation to the group. He noted that several years ago an actual canal boat was brought to the surface of a quarry and is at the Tri-County Sportsmans Club's ground. Drury said the canal boat was offered to his museum and that he in turn was offering it to the Lehigh Canal Commission for display.

Commission members discussed the issue and said they would go back to their respective communities to see if any of them would help fund moving the canal boat and paying for its restoration since it is the only actual canal boat available.

"When the canal closed down, the Lehigh Coal and Navigation owners didn't know what to do with the canal boats, so they sunk them in a quarry," said Drury. "This boat was only down 25 feet while the others are down about 90 feet. You can see them all lined up and in perfect condition because the cold water has preserved them."

Commission members favored having the canal boat as a display item but Dennis Bauchspies, chairman, said that the commission had no funds for such a major project.

Bauchspies recommended that Drury check with the Walnutport Canal Commission because their group is better organized for such a project.

Drury said that the canal boat is 50 feet long, but needs shoring up before it can be moved because it is deteriorating from being exposed to the elements.

Mike Nonnemacher, secretary, said that he is gathering information to apply for grant funding for the canal maintenance.

Everett said that there is a limited amount of funding for materials and supplies for repairs, but that the storm could deplete the stockpiled material.

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