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Public invited to hear update on Beltzville overcrowding study

Published November 14. 2018 12:22PM

A group investigating overcrowding and parking concerns at Beltzville State Park will hold a public meeting Thursday to update the public on its study.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of State Parks have announced an information session will take place from 4-8 p.m. Thursday at Towamensing Fire Co., 105 Firehouse Road, Palmerton.

The meeting is meant to update the public on the study, which was announced in May, looking at the “local community and visitor experience” at the park. Over the past six months, a group of stakeholders have been investigating crowd and parking concerns, and studying possible corrective measures.

During the four-hour meeting, representatives from Penn State University and Toole Recreation Planning will be available to provide updates on their study, as well as future steps they plan to take.

Other members of the stakeholder group will be on hand, including representatives from Beltzville State Park, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation, and Friends of Beltzville State Park.

State Sen. John Yudichak and state Rep. Doyle Heffley are scheduled to attend or have staff members on hand.

Heffley said some residents and local groups have already spoken to the study, but he encourages residents to come and share their thoughts about Beltzville with the stakeholder group.

“Passions can run high on this issue from time to time, but we really want people to come out and talk to DCNR and communicate what their thoughts are on the park, and what we can do to improve it for everybody,” Heffley said.

Many residents have expressed the need for the park to charge admission, especially on the weekends of Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

Heffley has proposed it in Harrisburg in the past.

Heffley said he’s happy that DCNR is doing the study even if they do not support his idea for a fee.

The 3,002-acre Beltzville State Park is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which uses it primarily for flood control. DCNR and the game commission manage the property on behalf of the Army Corps.

The 949-acre Beltzville Lake is a popular draw for boaters, swimmers, and picnickers during the peak summer season of Memorial Day through Labor Day, and is open to unlimited horsepower powerboats.

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