SHICKSHINNY — After six years of planning and efforts to secure funding, Shickshinny finally has a new boat launch and dock that help solidify its status as a Susquehanna Greenway River Town.
“Unbelievable,” Mayor Beverly Moore said when asked how it feels to see her pet project come to fruition. “Words just can’t describe what this whole project is going to do for this town. I just can’t wait for everything else to start unfolding.”
The launch and the dock are part of the Crary Park project, which also includes a paved access road with a turnaround spot at the boat launch, new playground equipment and a large gravel parking lot with solar-powered lighting, and everything is handicap accessible.
The borough had about $18,000 to start the project, but most funding came from state and federal grants. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources contributed about $156,000, the state Fish and Boat Commission kicked in about $98,000, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came up with about $63,000.
The park lacks signage and the landscaping is still a little rough. While the state never released funding for a third grant, it led the borough to seek federal funding that was available only in a lesser amount, so those aesthetics had to be sacrificed for now, but the most important amenities are in place.
Moore said the launch will allow the fire company to access the river more quickly and easily for water rescues and host regional training sessions thanks to ample parking. She also hopes the park can host activities and be included as a destination in the annual Susquehanna Sojourn when the route passes Shickshinny.
Moore believes the park’s amenities will help boost the local economy. Folks already began stopping last week.
Berwick residents Frank Peters and Brenda Vuocola rode Peters’ motorcycle to the launch to check it out after seeing a news clip about it.
“We fish a lot. This makes it nice because we weren’t able to get to this part of the river (by boat) before,” Vuocola said, referring to an area near the Shickshinny-Mocanaqua Bridge. “It’s good fishing by the bridge, nice and deep.”
Peters said they have used a state boat launch a couple miles north of Shickshinny, “but only when the water is high because there are a lot of rocks.”
The launch at Crary Park is designed for use when the river is at a normal to lower level. The ramp to the dock was partially submerged late last week because the river level was higher than normal.
Lisa Ventura, of the West Nanticoke section of Newport Township, stopped by with her daughter Olivia, 3. She doesn’t like using a park in West Nanticoke because the grass is usually too high and she’s afraid snakes might be drawn to it, so she wanted to check out Crary Park.
Walking by the boat launch, Ventura said she’s glad her daughter will have easy access to the river because flooding is common in their neighborhood, “and I don’t want her to be afraid of the river.”
“I haven’t fished since I was a kid, but my husband and I would like to take her. I know a lot of people who like to fish and this is a nice area to come to,” Ventura said. “And my father has a pontoon boat. I don’t know if you can take it out on the river, but we’ll look into it.”