I thank The Times Leader and Luzerne County Councilman Edward Brominski for bringing attention to the Wilkes-Barre River Common.
As chairman of the Riverfront Parks Committee, the nonprofit organization that has been working in the parks on both sides of the Susquehanna River since 1991, I wanted to share a different perspective.
The Riverfront Parks Committee raises private funds and uses volunteers for Earth Day events, river cleanups, RiverFest, Dragon Boat Racing, concerts, ChalkFest, Hydromania and many other family-oriented events, and receives no county funding for any of them.
We do, however, work closely with the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority and its staff who make sure the River Common is looking good for these events. They have repaired the fountain numerous times before our events and recently had to step into action to wash geese droppings off the amphitheatre before an evening jazz concert.
They also have utilized county inmates to clean the park following flooding before scheduled events. Over the years, I have had the pleasure to work with Mr. Brozena, Mr. Gibbons, and now Mr. Belleman to coordinate events on the River Common.
There are many of us who are concerned the River Common is being neglected, but it isn’t the weeds that concern us.
Annually, volunteers participating in the United Way Day of Caring spruce up the River Common and its planting beds.
In May of this year, more than 100 volunteers from PA American Water, Mondelez Foods and Sallie Mae spent the day weeding the flower beds by hand, because mulching, weed fabric or herbicides would not have solved the problem.
The phlox, daylilies and potentilla all flowered and looked great this spring.
Vandalism, however, continues to impact the park.
This summer there was more than $40,000 in vandalism to lighting, portal doors, sandstone walls and concrete benches and planters.
This damage can be prevented in several ways, including patrolling and enforcement of park rules and the creation of a skate/bike park. The Millennium Circle is not a skate park, but it seemingly has become one.
Another concern is the lack of funds to maintain (and program) this wonderful community park that was funded predominately by federal and state funds.
Just as the concrete was drying on the new River Common, the economy took a downturn. The county cut recreation dollars completely out of its budget, closed Moon Lake Park and did not fully allocate the funds that were requested to care for the River Common and levee trails.
If you want to see what happens when a community park is neglected, just visit Moon Lake.
I can remember swimming in the pool at Moon Lake and now there are no working toilets, because it was closed and then vandalized.
I am glad to hear that Councilman Brominski and others are concerned about the River Common becoming neglected.
One suggestion might be to allocate the more than $500,000 in funding that Luzerne County has received from state’s Marcellus Legacy Funds, specifically designated for recreation, trails and open spaces into a recreation line item in the 2014 Luzerne County Budget.
Other surrounding counties are using those funds for recreation, and Luzerne County’s parks (including the River Common) can certainly use some financial help.
As chairman of the Riverfront Parks Committee and a volunteer who pulls weeds, shovels flood mud, removes litter and flood debris, and organizes community events such as RiverFest and ChalkFest, I will do all that I can to make sure the River Common remains an asset to the community.
However, I cannot prevent the River Common from becoming like Moon Lake Park without the help of Luzerne County Council, the Flood Protection Authority, the City of Wilkes-Barre as well as area businesses, colleges, organizations and residents who can help sponsor events, use the park and volunteer to help maintain it.
Chairman, Riverfront Parks Committee
Lobby now to end
Each year more than 100,000 American horses are transported to their deaths in inhumane and barbaric foreign slaughterhouses, while our own elected officials are paving the way to slaughter these defenseless animals here at home. In fact, in 2007, the Cavel International slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Ill. closed its doors for good as the last facility in the United States.
Congress, under intense pressure from the wealthy and influential proponents of American horse slaughter, has decided to remove the prohibition on spending our much-needed tax dollars to inspect horse slaughter plants.
This reverses six years of humane government policy that ended the slaughter of horses in the United States. To stop this tragedy, and to permanently end the slaughter of American horses, animal welfare advocates are working tirelessly to persuade all of our representatives and senators to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, SB541/HB 1094.
Once the animals arrive at the slaughter plants, the suffering only intensifies — as they are viciously beaten, prodded and whipped. Horses are skittish by nature, making them difficult to stun. They often endure repeated blows during attempts to render them unconscious and sometimes remain alive and kicking during dismemberment.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund is the lobbying arm of the animal protection movement, working hard in Washington, D.C., in state capitals and in local communities to pass laws for the protection of animals.
Call your U.S. senators, at 202-244-3121, and your representative, 202-224-3121, and ask them to co-sponsor the SAFE Act.
For further information, visit www.hslf.org.