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Beltzville releases reopening plan

Beltzville State Park has devised a reopening plan in an attempt to curtail mass gatherings this holiday weekend.

Alma Holmes, Beltzville Park Ranger, presented the park’s intentions at Tuesday’s Franklin Township board of supervisors meeting.

Holmes said that with Carbon County set to enter the yellow phase this Friday, they are following Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan and process for reopening Pennsylvania.

“We’re expecting a lot of crowds,” Holmes said. “We do have things going on at the park.”

To help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Holmes said the park will promote social distancing by not parking cars in its overflow parking.

Additionally, she said the beach/swimming area will be closed through at least June 5, and stressed that the beach will not be open Memorial Day weekend or Memorial Day.

Further, Holmes said picnic tables at the park have been dispersed to allow people to spread out and avoid crowds.

Also, she said all picnic pavilions, playgrounds, nature play areas, interpretive centers, amphitheaters and group camping facilities will remain closed indefinitely.

Holmes told the board there’s a possibility the park may have to close the gate and have people out on the streets.

Township police Chief Jason Doll assured Holmes that police will be a presence over the holiday weekend.

“We’ll come over and help as much as we can,” Doll said.

“If you guys need anything, just call.”

Doll said that in years past, the Fourth of July has usually been more of an issue to deal with, and that the seriousness of the calls hasn’t been a real problem.

“If they’re parked on the road blocking traffic, they’ll have to be ticketed and towed,” he said. “Hopefully all goes well; we’ll attack it as we always have.”

Holmes said there have been a lot of people fishing at the park, and added that the park has received plenty of flak.

“There’s been a lot of negative comments (on Facebook),” she said.

Board Chairman Jason Frey asked whether the township has an ordinance for Pohopoco Drive.

Doll said parking tickets have generally been based on impedance, adding, “we haven’t had a real problem with towing of vehicles.”

Frey said his concern was in the event people park on someone’s fields like last year.

Doll told Frey they’ll address the situation if it becomes an issue, and noted that the police department works well in tandem with the state park’s officers.

“The park is their (Beltz­ville’s) jurisdiction,” he said.

“They’ve been very helpful to us, and we’ll return the favor.”

Alma Holmes, Beltzville Park Ranger, discusses Beltzville State Park's reopening plan with Franklin Township police Chief Jason Doll at Tuesday's township board of supervisors meeting. The park's beach/swimming area will not be open Memorial Day weekend or Memorial Day, and will remain closed through at least June 5. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS