The White Mills Community Trail, an educational foot path through the heart of the former Dorflinger glass factory grounds, is targeted to be open this fall.


 The White Mills Community Trail, an educational foot path through the heart of the former Dorflinger glass factory grounds, is targeted to be open this fall.
An update on the plan was given Thursday evening to White Mills residents, particularly those living on Charles Street, whose properties are close by the trail. James Asselstine, Chairman of Dorflinger Suydam Sanctuary, held the meeting at the 1911 White Mills Fire House.
The entire trail is meant to eventually link the fire house on Route 6 with the Dorflinger Worker’s Cottage on Charles Street, both which have been preserved and restored in recent years as museums, part of the Master Plan for heritage tourism being developed by the Sanctuary. Asselstine explained that a parking area will be made on the grounds behind the existing stone, former Dorflinger factory building, with primary access from a drive way off Charles Street.
This is designed to keep cars and school buses from creating congestion on Charles Street, when the Worker’s Cottage is open to school groups and other visitors. Walking to the Cottage will also be safer, off of Charles Street; at the same time, they will be able to read a series of interpretive and illustrated panels along the way telling the story of the internationally famous cut glass works and the White Mills community that grew around the once bustling company.
The first phase only is expected to be done this autumn, which includes the trail from the fire house as far as Ash Street, the first side road off Charles, and the panels and parking area.  The second phase has only a tentative design, which extends the path across Ash Street past Lollipop Pond and to the Worker’s Cottage from behind. Asselstine said that this section crosses Texas Township property, and Dorflinger needs to meet with Township officials as well as the White Mills Fire Department, which utilizes the pond.
Regarding the second phase past Lollipop Pond, Sanctuary officials  will need to talk to the neighbors whose back yards would face the trail, Asselstine said. Their permission would be needed if the trail were to cross their properties. The cottage is open no more than 10 days a year, so use of the path would be limited, he stated.
The trail will be made of a composite material, with asphalt limited to the handicapped parking spaces. “It will be as environmentally unobtrusive as possible,” he said. Picnic tables will be put by the catch basin pond and benches set up on the trail. Safely fencing will be improved around the catch basin.
Woodland Designs is under contract to create the design, which still must be finalized to best accommodate handicap accessibility.
Pipe gates will close the area to vehicular traffic on off-hours, he stated.
A $30,000 matching grant was obtained from the Lackawanna Valley Heritage Authority, Pa. Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and National Park Service for the project. The Sanctuary needs to raise another $30,000, and part of this has been met with a $3,000 Wayne County Tourism Grant.
Asselstine said he was “wearing a couple hats” in that he is also the property owner of the former factory grounds and provided a 15 year easement to the Sanctuary to create the trail. The Tyler Hill resident reported that wit his private funds he is restoring the original stone glass company office building on Elizabeth Street. The interior has been returned to the late 1800s, he said, with offices on first floor for the Sanctuary and the top floor for exhibits. This should be ready to open this fall as well. Another long term project of his, is to rehabilitate the massive stone cutting shop factory building, with both commercial space and a portion kept as a museum to cut glass making. Due to the expense, the cutting shop project may need to be turned over to the Sanctuary in order to apply for grants.
To avoid any conflict of interest, the trail project is actually being overseen by Henry “Hank” Loftus, Glass museum curator, and Tom Dein, Sanctuary general manager.
Dr. Walter Barbe, who is on the Sanctuary board, is also restoring a canal lock tender property on the other side of Route 6, as a museum and rental home. Asselstine said they would not direct the walking trail across Route 6 because of the danger to pedestrians.
Asked about the old Dorflinger company store property at the bottom of Charles Street next to the fire house, Asselstine said this was in private hands although they would love to preserve the historic property and integrate it at some point.

Comments about White Mills trail plan
Alida O’Hara of Charles Street commented that she and her husband Kevin visited Salem, Massachusetts a few years ago and she thought it awful for residents who lived among tourist sites. “Now  I’m in the midst of Salem!” They have had problems with vehicles parking on their property across from the Worker’s Cottage. In defense of the neighbors to the proposed trail near the Worker’s Cottage, she suggested a bridge could be made over Lollipop Pond to avoid neighboring yards.
“We want to be a good neighbor,” Asselstine replied. He pointed out that he preservation of historic properties and cleaning up the area is good for the community, and they were sensitive to neighbors’ concerns.
Kevin O’Hara reiterated after the meeting their hope that the trail will be fashioned to avoid problems with the neighbors. Overall, however, he said that he felt the Sanctuary’s preservation efforts have been “done intelligently and with good taste.”
Judy Harland asked if the bats that were chased out of the Dorflinger office building went to the fire house. Asselstine quipped, “We encouraged them [the bats] to move... my apologies if they moved to your house.”
Concerning the trail project, Joan Lonsdorf of Charles Street, a Sanctuary volunteer, said in the meeting, “I think it is marvelous!”
Asselstine said that if anyone has any comments or questions they may be directed to the Dorflinger Suydam Sanctuary, phone (570)253-1185.