Penn Pump Park which has garnered national media attention was pretty quiet this past weekend unlike the past few weekends when huge crowds gathered at the small and beautiful park in Palmer Township, Northampton County which is just north of the City of Easton. The park can comfortably accommodate 100 to 150 people but had crowds of 500 to 600 people daily on the weekend days. The mess they left behind was unimaginable. A crew of 12 park workers had to work endless hours picking up and hauling all the trash away.
Most visiting the park were from out of town, and most were from out of state, sporting license plates from New Jersey and even New York (an hour to an hour and a half away). It’s great that people are using the park but massive crowds dumping trash, illegally consuming large amounts of alcohol, disrespecting rules, illegally parking and illegally swimming in the Bushkill Creek which is the highlight of the park is unacceptable. Music was played at such high volumes that residents living near the park were agitated.
The dam area which has been very popular for many years with the teen crowd to wade in saw numbers of 100 people or more at a time in it. Many were swimming which under state law is banned near the dam. Some were seen urinating in the creek which had garbage and used diapers floating in it. Some of the people were sunbathing by lying across and blocking areas of the Palmer Bike/Walking Trail which runs past the park.
There are also concerns that the Bushkill Creek, a high quality trout fishing stream could have negative water quality issues from all the activity and garbage. The Bushkill has had some bacteria problems in the past several years.
Even a chartered bus from the Bronx showed up one day with around 85 people. There is no room there for any bus parking which has less than 40 parking spaces. The popularity of the park may have been spurned by social media and word of mouth as a free place to go and party (another words a free for all).
One person from northern New Jersey said that there are no lakes or rivers near him which he could go to so he came to PA. That is a bunch of crap. There are plenty of fine lakes and parks throughout northern New Jersey. Some are free to the public, others are private and many state parks do charge a fee. But most of these areas are pristine because they strictly enforce rules and have adequate manpower for care-taking.
Palmer Township supervisors after seeing what was going on and after many complaints decided to close the park on weekends to all, except for those who have a permit for the pavilion, which is booked for the rest of summer. Also, temporary fencing has been put up around the dam area to keep any swimmers away. Fishing will still be allowed in the creek near the park. Police have stepped up their presence. It is very unfortunate what had to be done but it was necessary.
Close to 100 vehicles, practically all from out of state were turned away from the park this past weekend. The park closings and fences are only temporary. A long term solution will need to be worked out.
The race card was even played by some local media, especially from a New Jersey outlet because a majority of those from out-of-state were Hispanic. It does not matter what race, religion or gender come to the parks. What matters is cleaning up the mess left, respecting rules and respecting others. Urinating in public, leaving garbage scattered everywhere, throwing used diapers in streams and using profane language is not acceptable, not anywhere. If permits are required to use a facility then get a permit and don’t interfere with those who have permits or harass them or residents whom live nearby.
Leaving a mess behind for others to deal with has become the norm. Many people in our society today have little respect for nature, the environment or for others. Hopefully, the ones who care can help others to change their ways and attitudes but it will be a tough struggle.