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Wake up residents of Penn Forest Township!

Published November 17. 2012 09:02AM

Dear Editor:

Do you think the proposed "Navitat Bear Creek Zip-line Adventures", will not affect you?

Think again…200 to 250 or more people, at it's peak, in our neighborhoods, every day.NAVITAT'S other facilities located in California and North Carolina, are open seven days a week,evenings and winters too!

There will be a tremendous increase in traffic on Route 903, Bear Creek drive, Behrens and Church roads.

Your developments are not gated communities! Your "Security Companies" will be not be able keep out the lookers, due to the sheer volume of people, now coming through our backyards. More people, more crime, more pollution.You can count on a devaluation of your property.Your property will become "commercially stigmatized".

Who would want to buy a house with high traffic, noisy screaming people on Zip-lines. Littering will become commonplace.

We have a volunteer fire department, how does this fit this picture? No police department. Only State police, whose response times are very well known to the residents.This is your future! No development is exempt!

We must stand united on this very important issue.Our taxpayers cannot afford a paid Police and Fire department. We need volunteers for our fire department, right now! Jim Thorpe is $165,000.00 in the "red" .The rescues at Glen Onoko and the Lehigh River are overwhelming. Who will answer the emergency calls from NAVITAT? Jim Thorpe, Penn Forest, or Lehighton ambulance/fire personnel? How will they navigate a fire truck or ambulance through a pot hole riddled dirt road?

According to NAVITAT, Bear Creek drive will remain a dirt road. They did offer to fill in the pot holes and even mentioned that the residents might pay their "Fair share". Sounds like a "good neighbor" approach? NAVITAT uses Bear Creek drive to transport up to 250 people a day times 24 to 30 trips one way. I am not a mathematician but where is the "Fair Share" in all this?

What a great neighbor….. Wake up! We have a paradise on earth and it is under threat.

NAVITAT calls itself an Ecotourism business, an industry which claims to make a low impact on the environment and local communities. It calls itself a "good neighbor." Changing the characteristics of a quiet mountain community into a high traffic, tourist laden, noisy area is not my idea of being a good neighbor.

Any tourism comes at a price. However aware the visitors, the sheer weight of the numbers entering a fragile environmental area leads to severe environmental degradation, while local communities are also disrupted. Just because visitors choose NAVITAT does not mean that they religiously follow the rules.They have paid a lot of money for what they perceive as a "great thrill" and can feel they have some inalienable right to see and do what they want. A cigarette carelessly thrown can cause us our lives. Forest fire, brush fires are all too common here.

Most developments are located next to "NAVITAT", only have one road in and out. Bear View, Deer View, Marty Axman, Sunrise Ridge and Wargo Development, will be greatly impacted. Leisureland, also sits in a precarious location with NAVITAT being located close to Jim Thorpe's water authority property in the Borough. NAVITAT does extend into the Jim Thorpe borough. Do the residents know? Do they care? This industry needs to be regulated and the impact of ecotourists strictly monitored.They are self regulating business, answering to nobody but themselves and their peers.

Ecotourism also has flip side. Environmentalists fighting a multi-million dollar resort in Costa Rica recently said that "developers were swift in taking advantage of the fashionable terminology "Eco-tourism",with the only aim of filing their pockets with money." Faced by fierce competition in the tourism industry, business is keen to open up the ecotourism market.

As it exploits the environment as a product, the natural habitat and wildlife become commodities that need to be protected as future investments. Ecotourism can be a form of self destruction, for it can destroy the very natural resources on which it depends on….Will our communities, the environment and wildlife that we so love, become collateral damage for the greedy?

This will affect you! Stand up! Speak up! Please attend the next Penn Forest Township meeting on November 26th at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will take place at the Penn Forest Fire department located on Route 903. If you can not attend call the Penn Forest Township Supervisor to voice your opinion. Make sure that you leave your name and tell them to document it. Phone (570)325-3160 Thank you and God Bless This letter is my opinion only…

Judith Salovay

Penn Forest Township

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