December 23, 2016

AOAA's importance grows despite obstacles

AOAA's importance grows despite obstacles

 

Published: 12/21/2016 6:00 AM

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How ironic that at the same meeting where the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) board decided to increase its contributions to the municipalities that surround it, the board also noted the destruction of recently restored wetlands on the property.

Those in charge of the ATV park continue to go to great lengths to gain acceptance, relevance and importance in the community despite acts of vandalism and trespassing by those still unaccepting of this unique, government-backed project.

• • •

The AOAA has been in operation several years now and, with climbing ridership each season, has continued to increase monetary contributions to the municipalities across which its 6,500 acres spread, as well as nearby Shamokin.

Coal Township, which has considered taxing park admissions, citing concerns over demand for services such as police and other emergency responders from a growing and adventurous tourist clientele, has continued to pass on the tax because of the AOAA’s proactive contribution schedule. At Monday’s meeting, the board OK’d an eyebrow raising $10,000 contribution to the township this year — a generous message of cooperation indeed, and $3,500 more than last year. Zerbe Township, second only to Coal in terms of direct impact from the park, will get $5,000, up from $4,000 the previous year. Also this year, Shamokin as well as East and West Cameron and Mount Carmel townships will get $500 each.

The AOAA has also sponsored holiday related events and benefit events that help draw the local community — including non-riders — to the park.

While the AOAA grows within its own industry, the board has shown it doesn’t plan to forget the local community that supports it.

• • •

The success of the park — both in concept and now in practice — has continued to impress state officials, who have been quite successful at steering funding toward it.

In fact, the wetlands, where an estimated $1,500 in intentional destruction was recently done, had been restored this summer as part of a $126,000 project involving the AOAA, the Northumberland County Conservation District and the Shamokin Creek Restoration Alliance (SCRA) that was supported by public funding.

The vandals, whatever their motive, are wasting public money in the short-term as they express anger, we presume, about the park’s existence on what was once uncontrolled riding land.

But as long as the AOAA continues to be successful, and shares that success with its host communities, the vandals won’t win in the long run.

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