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Why they cut down the Penn Pump Park tree kids used to swing into the creek

There was no shortage of visitors Thursday morning to Penn Pump Park, with folks enjoying a sunny summer day walking and biking the blacktopped path that rims the western edge of the Bushkill Creek in Palmer Township.Missing, however, were carefree youths cannonballing into the water from a rope tied to a massive tree along the creek, as they had for generations.The tree also was gone, reduced to only a stump cut off abruptly over the green, shimmering water.Township officials decided it was no longer wise to risk injury to residents caused by reckless flops into the water, and the possibility of liability.As a result, the landmark “rope-swing tree” was taken down.“We all have a level of responsibility and accountability for safety — safety is the No. 1 priority,” Township Manager Robert Williams said Thursday.He said the decision to remove the tree — the summertime venue for generations of children, many now adults with children of their own who swim there — was in part prompted by concerns voiced by Public Works Superintendent Scott Kistler and police Chief Larry Palmer over a long period of time, and not made hastily.Generations of area children — including Stone Shupe of Easton, seen here in 2015 — used to leap into Bushkill Creek from a rope attached to a tree in Penn Pump Park in Palmer Township. (TATIANA RIVERA / THE MORNING CALL /)The shallow water level and bank erosion, evidenced by the tree’s roots atop the soil, all factored in, Williams said.“We’re in a much better position to explain why the tree was removed than to explain why someone was seriously injured,” he said. “It was in no way a knee-jerk reaction.”Reaction was mixed among some who were out to enjoy a bright summer morning at the park Thursday.“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Penny Myers, who lives in Palmer Township.She said the lack of places to go and things to do for young people is stark in the area, and removing a draw to the park was a bad idea.Going to community pools is too expensive for children, she said, while pointing out that a skate park that was popular in the township is now gone.“There’s nothing for them to do here in the first place, and anytime there’s something fun for the kids to do they take it away,” she said.Ed Jenkins, a lifetime area resident, said he swung from the branches of the tree when he was young, and enjoyed watching children doing it as he grew older.“We were just here the other day watching the kids having a good time, and I thought, ‘Wow, I remember doing that same thing,’” he said while seated on a bench along the walking path with a friend.He said having a fun place to go keeps children out of trouble, and that the tree was a harmless attraction “for decades.”“Has anybody gotten hurt?” he asked.Sienna Flores of Forks Township said she understands the township’s position.Joel Figueroa of Easton jumps off the stump of a tree cut down over safety concerns. Figueroa said he grew up jumping from it, as did his father. (April Gamiz/)“It’s a safety issue — what if someone sues?” she said. “It’s easier to address a safety issue rather than someone getting hurt.”Her friend, Stephen Parker, agreed with her.“People don’t really monitor their kids,” he said.He conceded, however, that removing the tree represents a loss of nostalgia.“It’s a generational thing,” he said.Williams said he is sympathetic to residents who have posted their objections on social media, including those who attended a candlelight vigil Monday at the site to mourn a part of their youth now gone.“I’m very empathetic, very understanding — I wish we could all have fun and be safe at the same time,” he said.Kevin Duffy is a freelance writer for The Morning Call.
Source: Morningcall

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