Planning begins for Slatington area of trail
D&L's Trail Manager Brian Greene hosts the first trail town meeting on Saturday in Slatington. KELLEY ANDRADE/TIMES NEWS
Martha Capwell Fox speaks to Alice Wanamaker, Dean Hower and Dale Reed while Elizabeth Wagner conducts a trail survey at the Slatington Trailhead.
As the Blue Mountain Farmers Market wrapped up its Saturday sales at the Slatington Trailhead, Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trail Program manager Brian Greene gathered community members under the pavilion in an effort to come up with an improvement plan for the area.
"This is our very first public meeting for our trail towns. We want to get everyone's opinions and figure out how to use this great resource to help the community," he told attendees.
Greene introduced the steering committee: Michael Kunitz, the Northern Lehigh Recreation director; Alice Wanamaker of the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce; Jason Ruff, Slatington Council member and Main Street Diner owner; and Able Boyer, owner of Boyer's Hardware.
The group will work on creating and implementing a "work plan," for the multiple trails located between Slatington and Walnutport.
"We have some great local leadership pushing this project along," he said.
"This is our opportunity to collectively use your wisdom on what we can do to make our towns and trails better," he said.
Greene said the trail can elevate the area including residents' quality of life, improves economy through jobs and tourism and creates a place for visitors to stop along the 160-mile connected trail, spreading the word about the historic boroughs.
"We have a special place along the D&L here because of the existing infrastructure you already have and the history here," Greene said.
"How can we take advantage of this resource, this opportunity," he asked.
Three groups were formed to explore the Slatington and Walnutport destinations to look for points of future improvement.
"We have funds to complete some of these ideas," Greene said.
"This area has no specific big industry," Walnutport Council Board member Nancy Treskot said.
"So we have to develop ourselves as a little cottage entrepreneurship town. The trails are a resource for that, so we have to think about developing it," Treskot said.
Martha Capwell Fox, historian and archivist for the D&L, agreed with Treskot, saying, "This location is big because the half-marathon runs through here. Last year more than a thousand people participated. It brought a lot of attention to Slatington," she said.
Capwell Fox told the group an amenities map should be created for each trail.
"Any place there is a community there should be a map. So many places on the long-haul trails where you can camp or stop overnight, it would help," she said.
Northern Lehigh trail tender leader Dean Hower has been volunteering for the D&L for more than 15 years.
Hower said, "The community has to embrace this."
He said there is never a shortage of trail users.
"We certainly do get business from the trail. There are people who come here and ride from Cementon and even further," Hower said.
Greene said, the information collected over the next few weeks will be used to implement a future plan for the trails. He invites all trail users and community members to conduct their own online survey and share any ideas on how to improve the area.
"We are trying to grow a great garden," Greene said. "We have to put seeds in the ground and tend to plants, take the weeds out if you want to have a nice garden."
To participate by conducting a survey, visit: www.delawareandlehigh.org/trail-programs/dl-trail-towns.