DCNR secretary visit good sign for AOAA
The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) already awarded $1.5 million to the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) one year ago, but it was encouraging nonetheless to have DCNR Secretary Richard G. Allan on the property Friday for a personal tour, in a Hummer, no less.
He couldn't, or wouldn't, say whether more state funding is on the way, but there's little doubt he better understands the excitement of off-roading: "It's amazing. Absolutely amazing," Allan said after his two-hour tour. "I can see why it's going to be a draw for people to enjoy. This is a tourist destination."
More than his personal experience, it's was Allan's comments that the Corbett administration has "rethought" where it invests money for economic development that sounds like more funding for the AOAA is a possibility.
"There is a lot of recreation here that we don't do in our state parks and forest lands," Allan said.
It's worth repeating that last year's $1.5 million DCNR Christmas present came not from taxes but from a pot of money created by ATV and snowmobile registration fees, earmarked by law for development of riding trails. Of course, the park desperately needs such government funding, and private contributions, as Northumberland County commissioners rightly stick to their guns that no local taxpayer money will go toward AOAA development, other than its commitment of personnel within the county planning department.
The presence of members of Hummers Club Inc. from New York and New Jersey as hosts for Allan's ride is further proof that the interest in the park is broad - geographically and within the diverse off-road industry. The Hummer Club is the latest national organization to promote the AOAA through its club magazine, too.
After a difficult summer regarding the AOAA, these are positive signs that the project is still on track, and we look forward to what may come in 2013.
Meanwhile, we like state Rep. Kurt Masser's suggestion that those who still have disagreements about the park and its direction get together for some frank - but civil - discussions with park supporters. Perhaps he and state Sen. John Gordner, who were both part of Friday's touring contingent, could join with county officials and the new AOAA board to facilitate that meeting.