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LCRC asking for county hotel tax funds to help maintain towpath for tourists

Published July 30. 2011 09:01AM

With the funds dwindling to pay for maintenance expenses, the Lehigh Canal Recreation Commission is seeking alternate funding by investigating grants and other funding sources.

Members of the LCRC met Thursday to discuss the latest repairs to the canal towpath and the funding issue took top precedence on the agenda.

Members said that they are hoping to apply for funds from the county commissioners through the hotel tax.

Scott Everett, Delaware and Lehigh representative, said that the commission should seek alternate funding sources because funds are needed to maintain the park.

Commission members noted that lumber that had been on hand to repair the fence destroyed in the last high water event was stolen.

"They had to have carried the lumber at least a quarter of a mile," said Dennis Bauschpies, chairman.

A volunteer at the canal had wanted to repair the fence.

Everett noted that there are 25 boards of various sizes available at the East Penn Township building, but that the lumber needs to be picked up.

The same volunteer said that if a truck was available, that he would pick up the lumber and make the repairs and build benches and tables. The volunteer also noted that the canal towpath was being used by some unsuitable people and commended Weissport Police Chief Steve Mansueto for his assistance in rousting the undesirable individuals from the park. He said they were littering cigarette butts, drinking alcohol and dealing drugs, plus using the canal tow path area for other purposes that most people would find offensive.

Commission members approved sending a letter to Lehighton Council and Franklin Township supervisors thanking them for their services in assisting with repairs of the canal towpath.

Commission members noted that a new sign for the entrance way and a trail blaze at the trail head will be installed next week. The trail blaze would provide information about distances along the towpath. Members then discussed the construction details that are making the sign project a challenge.

George Stawnyczyj, representative of Mahoning Township, said that the pipe underneath Bridge Street at the intersection of Canal Street is in danger of collapsing and he wondered who is responsible for the pipe's replacement.

Stawnyczyj said that the bottom of the pipe is completely rusted away and that once the bottom is gone as it is, the pipe is no longer able to support the load. He added that a Lehighton water line is also in the area and that if the pipe collapses, the road will collapse and will break the water line. He said that the force of the water from a broken water line would take out the road.

Commission members said that the pipe presently could be relined with little difficulty, but once the pipe collapses, it would be a major project.

Commission members also discussed a bridge that collapsed in the canal, plus whose responsibility it is to maintain the new bridge and remove the old bridge.

Bauschpies said clean up of the old bridge was affected by historical issues, including its age and where the bridge was located. He said that he believes that issue is resolved, but that the old bridge is blocking debris from flowing downstream and should be removed.

Parryville Commission member Dean Emrey noted that Riverwalck employees are still parking in the canal parking lot and crossing Route 248.

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