Don't ban all from AOAA property sooner than necessary
Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi has all but promised the county will act at Tuesday's commissioners meeting to ban all public access to the 6,500 acres of county property designated for the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA).
If that is the plan, we hope Clausi and Stephen Bridy, who seems aligned on this possibility, decide otherwise.
They and other county officials certainly do have reason to be concerned, both from a public safety standpoint considering the discovering of a spiked board on the property, and legally in light of David F. Kaleta's lawsuit seeking reversal of the county's ban of his access.
But banning everyone will only cause more harm, as we see it, because:
- There is no reasonable means of enforcing no trespassing on the secluded, mountainous, forested acreage that makes up the AOAA. It has many access trails and a million places where people can simply walk on. There are no signs in place to warn of no trespassing, and the borders the county land shares with other property owners in many cases are not marked.
- Probably the largest single complaint about the AOAA park plan to date is that those who have used the land for free and without regulation for decades will no longer have that luxury. While the county has every right to control its own land, and we support the notion of trying to help the local economy through the park development, there is no need to shut off access when the park is still far from operating in any official capacity. It will only create further animosity and make it more difficult for the county to move forward with its plan. (We take this position, however, cognizant of the separate matter of the spiked board discovery and the current concern of investigating the possibility of any further "booby traps" on the land.)
Developments over the past two weeks have already rekindled strong emotions about the AOAA park. Pushing the issue with a complete ban will only make matters worse.
(Coming tomorrow: Many criticisms of the AOAA and its alleged negative impact are unfounded, but ample representation among affected communities is critical.)