Photo courtesy of Stephanie Howard
In 2011 and 2012, local papers were running stories about coming up with a multi-million dollar plan to save Luzerne County owned Moon Lake Park, because today, all plans have to be “multi-million”. For those who are not familiar with the area, Moon Lake Park, located in Pennsylvania, was a low key, inexpensive (mostly free) kind of place, where people could go to enjoy the great outdoors, with access to a few amenities. You could camp and fish. You could bike and hike. It had a pool and some tennis courts. Picnic tables, were sprinkled throughout the property. It was a great place to kick back, enjoy nature, catch some rays, grill burgers, and hang out with friends and family.
By the time the public discussion began about how to fix the park, many amenities had been closed by Luzerne County for several years due to budgetary concerns. The facilities did show obvious signs of neglect when I started photographing the decline in 2012. But it could have been greatly improved upon with some simple repairs, like repaving those tennis courts and repairing the picnic tables.
But instead of coming up with a real world workable plan, government red tape dictated that the financially struggling county had to waste time and precious resources, like money, creating a completely unattainable $37 Million Dollar Master Plan, which was required to apply for grant money to move forward on an improvement project that could never possibly be implemented within the near future. Input coming from the public suggested the plan include a water park, snow tubing, rock climbing, zip lining, and nature-survival activities so it could be designed to compete with places like The Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos.
Despite having a yearly budget of only $119,626 to run the park in 2011, the county commissioners approved a $120,000 contract with Sasaki Associates Inc., located in Massachusetts, to be the consultant in charge of creating the master plan that same year. The state agreed to pay for half of the cost while the county planned to spend bond proceeds borrowed in 2008 to fund its $60,000 share according to news reports. How did all of our little community improvement projects turn into these multi-million dollar endeavors, that are never going to be attainable in a county as financially strapped as this one? We couldn’t even afford to write the plan, let alone find the funds to execute it.
Maybe that’s the real issue. Government red tape, and community input with Dom Perignon taste, while trying to scrape together enough change to buy a dollar draft, wastes so much time creating these dream scenarios that our leaders don’t have the opportunity to think about realistic plans which would actually make sense.
Recently, ownership of Moon Lake Park was transferred to the state of Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry. According to reports, they plan to allow most of the park area to return to its natural state, with paved roads being replaced with crushed stone as they deteriorate. The pool and other structures will disappear. The new public bathrooms will be non-flushable sealed concrete vaults, and the designated camping areas will be rustic with no utility hook-up. Future plans include a new well-manicured area for picnics and a boat launch near the lake.
It was Jennifer O’Malia who introduced me to the concept of Urban Exploration
Style Photography in 2010. Jenn, who has the unique vision of a
social documentarian, is now offering her services as a freelance photographer.
Photo by Jennifer O’Malia