— Things seem to be moving in a positive direction for Prompton State Park.
After two long years, the main parking lot is now open. That’s because a lengthy project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has now been completed.
“We are going full speed ahead,” said Paul Mang of the Friends of Prompton State Park.
The Corps recently announced completion of the project which included modifying the dam spillway, building an operations building, a maintenance garage and constructing a bridge to the dam. It was part of the stimulus program from the federal government.
For Mang, just getting the parking lot open and having the “closed” signs come down is a huge step forward for Prompton Park.
The history of the park is interesting because it was once a thriving place with a beach and visitor numbers increasing year after year. Then the state decided to sort of decommission the park, calling it “undeveloped.” The Corps also dug up and closed the beach.
This in spite of the fact there are 22.9 miles of trails, a boat launch, a disc golf course and plenty of room for all kinds of activities.
Since the park was deemed undeveloped, the friends group has been working to continually make improvements and to promote the fact it exists. Volunteers have improved all of the trails (including GPS mapping), added and improved picnic tables and done a lot more at Prompton.
Dave Kaneski, waterways conservation officer for the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, said they patrol the park on a regular basis. Their “primary function,” he said, is for fishing and boating.
He called Prompton Lake “one of the busiest places” they patrol in the county because of the abundance of fishing the lake offers.
Kaneski did say over the past two years, when the main parking lot was closed, use of the park has declined.
“Overall, in Wayne County, we have seen a decline in fishing and boating,” said Kaneski.
He believes the lack of a major population base coupled with a poor economy are the main reasons this has happened.
He also said that “five to 10 years ago” people were coming to this area and purchasing second homes but now they are selling those homes.
Despite that, Mang said he thinks now is the time for action when it comes to improving and promoting the park.
In fact, some good news came to the group in the form of a $5,000 operating budget from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“Now we don’t have to beg,” said Mang.
For years, they have been leaning on local businesses and individuals to purchase items like paint and other materials necessary just for maintenance and upkeep.
Mang gave credit to the Wayne County Commissioners for being “very supportive” of Prompton along with this area’s elected representatives.
In fact, the group has now formally requested that a sign be erected on Route 6 indicating where the park is located.
That request was made through Rep. Mike Peifer and the commissioners are also drafting a letter of support.
Mang said they are also submitting a letter to the Wayne County Foundation requesting a grant.
Additionally, he said the Honesdale Area Jaycess have named Prompton their “project of the year,” meaning a monetary commitment and manpower.
“If we work together, it’s only going to benefit the community,” said Mang. “It has always been my mission to get that park going to help the local economy.”
Another positive which is taking place is planned improvements to the disc golf course, said Mang.
He said there has been a big increase in usage of the course and the Pocono Disc Golf Association is planning to use it even more. To do that, he said specialists from around the country are coming to Prompton to look at the course and develop a plan for improvements.
“We are going to completely reconfigure the course,” said Mang. “And we are going to use volunteers to get it done as quickly as possible.”
In another development, Mang said it is his understanding the park is going to be redesignated from “undeveloped” to another status. He wasn’t sure what that status will be, however, but said it would be a big shot in the arm for promotional purposes.
A message was left with Dustin Drew, superintendent of Lackawanna State Park, but was not returned as of press time. Prompton is a “satellite” park of Lackawanna State Park.
For Mang, all of what is taking place is positive and he thinks there is a chance for a bright future at Prompton State Park.
“A community that works together is going to be a strong community,” said Mang. “This is a win-win for the whole area.”