On Tuesday, the Clarence Schock Foundation at Governor Dick Park officially unveiled its 241-foot ADA-compliant boardwalk.
The boardwalk, which circles the environmental center, has been in development for years.
The first phase of development, costing $407,371, was completed in 2019 with funding from a Pennsylvania natural resources grant, a grant from the Clarence Schock Foundation, a Lebanon County tourism grant, and a Marcellus Shale grant.
“When I put this together, we tapped every source [of funding] that we could,” explained Chuck Allwein, former Clarence Schock Foundation board member and originator of the idea.
Phase two, which celebrated its completion Tuesday, cost $148,879 and tied the boardwalk to the park’s interpretive trail, also making that trail ADA-accessible.
That phase was paid through American Recovery Act funds granted to the project by the Lebanon County Commissioners. Commissioners Mike Kuhn and Jo Ellen Litz attended the ceremony.
The boardwalk was dedicated to Allwein, who was also given a plaque on both ends of the bridge.
Allwein has moved to Virginia, but still keeps his home in Mount Gretna, where he owned and operated the Jigger Shop for many years.
“It was a labor of love and I have since relocated to Virginia on the coast, but I do miss this,” he said. “I truly do.”
The boardwalk allows visitors to view the forest and species in the middle of the ecosystem, which may not be visible otherwise.
“It gives someone with accessibility issues an opportunity to be in the forest, so to speak,” said Clarence Schock Foundation Board chairman Ray Bender.
The foundation hopes eventually to add informational plaques along the boardwalk. An additional boardwalk expansion may be in the cards as well, said Allwein.
“We’re not quite finished with this, I hope,” he said.
Bender also discussed the park’s nearly-complete tower security system.
Poles with lighting and security cameras were installed in and around the tower, and are monitorable remotely or from the environmental center. The reason the project is not complete, Bender said, is that a County Emergency Center (which will receive camera footage) is not yet open.
The idea for the project began three years ago, when the 66-foot tower was the site of a late-night drug overdose. Emergency services were not called until well into the emergency, and the unconscious victim needed to be lowered from the tower via a ladder.
Luckily, the man survived. However, it opened respondants’ eyes to a possible issue.
“We knew we had security issues over at the tower,” said Bender, going on to explain why the project was undertaken. “One, we have to have a better idea of what’s happening up there. Two, we have to have a way to evacuate over there.”
The around $300,000 project was an idea of former Cornwall Police Chief Bruce Harris and emergency responders. It was added to the state budget.
Former state Rep. Frank Ryan not only pushed for the funding, Bender said, but he contributed $5,000 of his own funds toward it.
“Without the first responders, Bruce Harris, and Frank Ryan, this second project wouldn’t have happened,” said Bender.
The foundation has also recently undergone a tree-cutting project near the tower to improve views of the surrounding area.
They have been granted $12,000 in money from the commissioners that will be used to replant the area with lower-growing trees and shrubs, Bender said.
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