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December 10, 2016
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Scenic Route 6 proposal in Honesdale?

A scenic route designation would bring some restrictions to Main Street in Honesdale, PA.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

Before broaching familiar debates on traffic flow and the police chief job description at its November 11 monthly meeting, the Honesdale Borough Council was treated to a slide presentation by Ed Coar of the Wayne County Planning Department. Honesdale has been invited to join the 110 municipalities that currently comprise the Pennsylvania Route 6 Heritage Corridor that runs through 427 miles and 11 counties of the state’s northern tier. Coar described the presentation’s purpose as “full disclosure regarding the implications of Honesdale’s decision to sign on as a participating municipality in the corridor management plan.”

Coar outlined the proposal itself, the process by which it will be accomplished, and the obvious advantages and disadvantages of participation therein. The ultimate goal of the proposal is to obtain Federal Register designation of Route 6 as an All-American Road. This would make it officially a National Scenic Byway and would secure its inclusion in the federal directory of scenic byways. An obvious advantage to becoming a member municipality is the boon to tourism expected as a result of “putting Honesdale on the map.” In fact, the proposal was originally conceived by local tourist boards, and has been guided by them from its inception to the present.

But Coar cautioned that there are also several obvious disadvantages to participation. Chief among them is the requirement that each participating municipality pledge full compliance with the provisions of the proposal, which are as yet not clearly defined. Most of those provisions would center on land use management. When asked by the council if the borough would be liable for purchase of lands adjacent to Route 6 within its boundaries, Coar advised that grant money would probably be available for land purchases mandated by the provision, but that the borough would probably be liable for legal expenses associated with land use management.

One example of land use management already defined in the proposal is that of billboard use. Under the current proposal, billboards would be prohibited within the Route 6 corridor. New billboards would be prohibited. Existing billboards would be permitted under a grandfather clause until their current leases expire and prohibited thereafter. Coar noted that the corridor management plan may include elements not satisfactory to all participating municipalities.

After providing handouts of a portion of the Federal Register pertaining to the National Scenic Byways Program as well as brochures detailing Route 6 recreational facilities, Coar closed his presentation with the statement that the Wayne County Planning Department would continue to work with the council and its officials toward ensuring a fully-informed decision.

Returning to more familiar debates, safety committee chair Bob Jennings introduced a resolution to convene a meeting of the one-way traffic ad hoc committee at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, November 19 at Borough Hall, for the purpose of preparing a recommendation regarding traffic flow on Main and Church streets. Results of the Bogart Accident Analysis will be reviewed at that time, as will countless hours of tape from traffic surveillance cameras mounted on Church and Main Streets. Finance committee chair Scott Smith reminded Jennings that no recommendation about traffic flow should be made before factoring in PennDOT’s cost figures for returning Church and Main to two-way traffic flow, which will be significant.

As police liaison, Mayor Ed Langendoerfer asked the council to provide a job description for newly-appointed police commissioner Rick Southerton. When president F.J. Monaghan stated that no job description for that position exists at this time, Langendoerfer protested that a newly-created position requires a job description. He was informed by councilman Harry DeVrieze that Southerton is Honesdale’s third police commissioner and that his duties will be those of a non-working police chief.