Honesdale news

What unites us

By Derek Williams
Posted 11/19/20

Having the bulk of this election behind us feels mighty fine. A lot of political nonsense at the top tries to pull us up into a simplified realm of competitive choosing. On the ground and at the …

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Honesdale news

What unites us

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Having the bulk of this election behind us feels mighty fine. A lot of political nonsense at the top tries to pull us up into a simplified realm of competitive choosing. On the ground and at the local level is where reality rules the day.

Winning and losing are often forced constructs of unnatural simplicity. Everything is more complex. Thankfully, that complexity is a manageable bit of reality when you’re having neighborly discussions. What unites us is more prevalent than what doesn’t, and that’s much clearer when you’re engaging with your neighborhood. National issues can get unnaturally sticky but local issues can be rewardingly solvable.

One such local issue is the proposed trail project connecting Honesdale and Hawley. There are parts of this plan we need to resolve but the seeds of it grow out of resoundingly favorable soil. A feasibility study for the trail was completed in the “years ago” memory of this past May. While news cycles have circled around other things since then, this plan is effectively hot off the press. It shows feasibility and general public support.

An artificial, imposed notion is that there isn’t much on which we can all agree. Even if that sentiment were true, this trail is pretty darn near one of those projects receiving universal favor. Approximately 90 percent of more than 1,000 survey respondents support the trail. Additionally, another survey of property owners adjacent to the proposed trail corridor expressed similar approval.

A trail connecting Wayne County’s two major downtowns has been discussed for a long time. In the past, connective conversations were stifled by theoretical details. Now, there’s a completed plan so we can work out the practical details.

In this partisan era, how could so much support exist for a given project? I suspect it’s because the complexity of activating a new 10-mile trail can be boiled down to a simple idea: connection.

Connecting Honesdale, Hawley and all points in between. Connecting the people of those places. Connecting people to those places. Connecting the road, the river and the rail. Adding accessibility. Adding transportation options. Adding neighborhood resiliency. Adding features valued by residents and visitors alike.

The trail itself is about connecting people to place and bringing things together. Those are community-building elements and neighbors care about building and maintaining community. Levels above all this are the hows and wheres of trail building itself but, at the core, a trail isn’t much more than a way for people to share space and connect with the local landscape.

Are there some logistical hurdles to overcome? Yes. Are there solutions to all of them? Absolutely. For instance, Bucks Cove Road is a public road running from just outside Honesdale to nearly White Mills. This road is in place now and is publicly accessible.

Let’s say there were unique challenges attached to the Bucks Cove area. We could guide bikers and walkers to the road and circle back with trail ideas later. All the while, forward progress is maintained and we progress toward shared goals.

That’s but one example of how we don’t necessarily need to build a whole new trail everywhere. Instead, we can rely on trail links that already exist and activate them in the spirit of using what we have to grow something fully reflective of our places.

If you haven’t thought or talked about this trail before, our post-Election-Day void offers a great conversational opportunity. If you have, keep the discussion going. If you haven’t heard your elected officials speak about the trail, ask them what they’re up to. If you see a new planning effort in progress, utilize public comment to request that it reference previously planned and proposed trail plans like this one. If local leaders around you haven’t become trail champions yet, consider stepping into that role yourself.

In short, this trail and things like it in your neighborhoods are well worth getting involved with. There’s plenty of room to help design and implement transformative projects. The Hawley to Honesdale trail is the people’s trail. It’ll be all the better with your input and involvement.

Derek Frey Williams, General Walkability and Local Trail Advocate, Canaltown. Visit interweb portals @canaltown552.com for more local landscape stories.

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