News

Crowd rallies against Lancaster Co. park closure

Written by Gordon Rago, York Daily Record | May 2, 2016 4:30 PM
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Holtwood Park has baseball fields, pavilions, parking and access to the Kelly's Run trailhead, a popular hike in Lancaster County. (Photo: Kate Penn, York Daily Record)

(Lancaster) -- A group of around 100 stroller-pushing, boot-wearing, dog-handling people on Saturday took to a popular trailhead of Kelly's Run, a hiking route in Lancaster County, to peacefully rally against its recent closure.

The afternoon gathering was the culmination of an online uproar from area hikers and outdoor enthusiasts upset over "no trespassing signs" posted at Holtwood Park near the trailhead. Talen Energy closed the park and trailhead after a recent sale.

The group came bearing signs, two of them reading "Talen pulled the plug on Holtwood Park" and "You know nothing about peace because you have not walked a mile on these trails."

Cooper, a blue heeler breed dog owned by York County resident John Miller, had his collar converted into a message board, with the words "Save Kelly's Run" printed on a large tag on his neck.

"I retired two years ago," Miller said before the rally. "I got a walking stick and a dog."

Miller comes to the trails a lot with Cooper.

"Getting out of the cubicle and keeping healthy is not just for the kids," he said. He was shocked when he learned one of his favorite trails was closed and so he wanted to show support.

His feelings were echoed in several others who stopped by the park.

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Landowner Talen Energy has placed no-trespassing signs in Holtwood Park in Martic Township, Lancaster County, where the trailhead to Kelly's Run is located. (Photo: Kate Penn, York Daily Record)

While there were little chants or marching, the crowd listened to each other talk about the latest updates on what was going on.

Suggestions were made to call state and local representatives and to attend the Martic Township public meeting on Monday night at 7 p.m.

People planned to meet Sunday morning with lawn mowers to cut the grass.

"Can we all just agree to use this park?" trail-user and Martic Township resident Mark Clatterbuck asked the group. "I'd like to see them actually force us off the land."

Some who use the trail and turned out were skeptical of what they could accomplish.

"I'm sure it's not going to change things," said Lancaster County resident Paige Bagwell of the rally. "But it's nice to show community support."

Plus, "being a child of the 60s, I love a good protest," she said with a smile.

Others were hopeful that a show in large numbers was a means to get the solution they seek -- mainly, for the space to remain open to the public.

"The bigger group you get, the more you get noticed," said Larry Sinclair, who remembers playing in the field and nearby pavilion as a kid.

Hiker Bill Peters touted how a group of 150 hikers on an email listserv he is on voted the trail No. 1 in July out of several other trails in the area.

"We have to really, really, really protect and take stewardship of these areas," Peters said. "Even if it wasn't as special as this is, I'd still be upset."

Lydia Martin, director of education of Lancaster County Conservancy, addressed the group, saying that they've been in talks with Talen Energy.

The conservancy, she said, owns more than 340 acres in the region. Martin said Talen Energy is open to engagement about the closure.

"This was a surprise for many of us, all of us, or we wouldn't be here today," Martin said to the crowd through a bull horn. "We're hoping we can have a win-win situation for everyone. That being said, I don't know what that looks like, but I have a lot of hope."

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between York Daily Record and WITF. 

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