How to Handle Penn Pump Park


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Let’s get a few things out of the way- Penn Pump Park is the property of the Palmer Township Taxpayers. It is one of several beautiful parks the township maintains, one of the many reasons Palmer is a great community. It is a public park by law, but you do need a permit to rent out the park. It’s a really nice spot on the Bushkill Creek, but it’s not a huge park. The park has been used for little league sports.

The park and the township were not prepared to have 600 people showing up on chartered buses, whether they would be from Palmer or out of town, Hispanic, white, African-American or anything else. Because the township was not prepared for that to happen, it is a drain on resources, and because the chartered bus had no permit to be there, they did not have time to gather the resources to do it. Now they have closed the park on weekends, an unacceptable outcome for a public park, and yesterday I saw three Palmer and a Forks Township cop guarding around the park on both sides of the creek. Even the rope swing side, which really wasn’t part of the park, is basically blocked off. Because of one unworkable situation, you now have a public park closed.

To be clear, this is not about race. The question of whether or not it is racist is not even fair. The problem is one of fairness and safety. I don’t care who gets off the bus- it shouldn’t be happening this way.

The long-term response can’t be to put the whole police force there to keep people out. The first thing I’d do is make the permits not just for the pavilions, but for any use of the park by ten or more people, regardless of where they came from and why. I’d even scale it so that groups of ten cost considerably less than groups of 600. The next thing is that I’d pass strict noise ordinances, trash ordinances, and general behavior rules for the park. Finally, obviously I’d set different prices for residents and non-residents, since the residents already pay for the upkeep of the park with their tax dollars. This gives you the ability to legally deal with all people who use the park without a permit for a party, keep one party from ruining another, and protect the interests of the locals. If this doesn’t protect the integrity of the park, you re-evaluate.

In November I’m on the ballot, unopposed, for a spot on the Auditors Board in the township, which would give me no authority over the park permit process legally, but I feel the need to note that as I write this. While I don’t think closing the park is a good solution for right now, I agree with most that it’s the only thing they could do right now. Hopefully they will take actions to fix the situation in a more durable way moving forward.

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