Luzerne County’s new Recreational Facilities Advisory Board held its first meeting at the county courthouse Monday night.
The group, created by council to provide input on recreational improvements, appointed Philip Russo as chairman and Karen Soifer as vice chair.
Vincent Cotrone, Carol Hussa and Paul Lumia also serve on the board.
Board members agreed to develop vision and mission statements and procedural rules for the next meeting, slated for 6 p.m. April 1.
County Chief Engineer Joe Gibbons provided updates on county-owned recreational facilities the board will examine:
• Moon Lake Park, Plymouth Township
The county has budgeted about $66,000 to keep the park open daily from the first day of trout season in April through the end of October for recreational activities such as fishing, biking and hiking, which don’t require intensive county oversight.
Council adopted a master plan to add amenities at the park, but implementation will depend on funding.
The park is open weekends only, weather permitting, during the winter.
• Seven Tubs Nature Area on state Route 115 in Plains Township
The park’s hiking trails along scenic waterfalls are open to the public daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
The county keeps the gate to the access road closed during the other months because the road is prone to black ice, and illegal dumping has been a problem in the past.
The state has declined the county’s past request to take over ownership of the Tubs.
• Forty Fort Recreational Complex
The county doesn’t have to pay to maintain and operate the complex, which includes soccer fields, because those duties are handled by Whitewater Challengers, which has a public-private partnership agreement with the county.
• River Common along the Susquehanna River in downtown Wilkes-Barre
The county must cover maintenance of the landing, fishing pier, amphitheater and other non-flood-control amenities near the Wyoming Valley Levee. The Riverfront Parks Committee helps oversee event programming and the soliciting of donations and sponsorships to fund events.
The advisory board can provide input on how to keep the River Common amenities sustainable, Gibbons said.
County Councilman Harry Haas also asked the board to consider exploring the possibility of a skate park on vacant land on Water Street owned by UGI Penn Natural Gas Inc. The company is willing to lease the land to the county for a skate park, but county officials have said they can’t afford to fund construction and maintenance.
Gibbons said he also may seek input from the board on how to spend funding from natural-gas drilling earmarked for recreation projects. He didn’t have a firm estimate on how much money the county will receive.