George W. Childs Recreation Site Re-Opens to the Public
Superintendent John J. Donahue announced today that George W. Childs Recreation Site within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area will reopen on Thursday, May 23, after a nearly three year closure. The popular destination has been completely rehabilitated bringing it closer to the original vision that wealthy Philadelphia philanthropist and publisher George W. Childs had for it when he first dedicated it to the public in 1892 as a place for people to enjoy nature. Childs died in 1894 and his widow donated the site to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1912. It was operated as a state park until 1983 when the Commonwealth donated the property to the National Park Service (NPS). “This site has been popular with visitors for well over a hundred years. Today’s visitors will enjoy the newly rehabilitated walkways, bridges, picnic sites, and new overlooks as much, if not more, than visitors did when it was first opened to the public,” said Donahue.
In light of budget constraints from sequestration, no large ceremony was held. However, the superintendent was joined on site for a ribbon cutting last week by Delaware Township Supervisor Ted Parcells in recognition of the mutual interest and long standing cooperation between Delaware Township and the NPS. Deputy Superintendent Bill Leonard and Chief of Resource Management and Science Kara Deutsch were also in attendance. Deutsch, who managed the project for Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, along with Hugh Duffy and staff members from the NPS’s Denver Service Center, local park staff from several divisions, volunteers, and the contractor, Cutting Edge Group of Lake George, New York, formed the team that brought this project to fruition.
Volunteers with the Millbrook Village Society milled all of the lumber for the project from that trees that were cut down in the park to make way for the expansion of State Route 2001. “We did not want to waste a single tree,” said the park superintendent. “PennDot helped us immensely by delivering trees that had to be removed from NPS land for the road project and the volunteers from the Millbrook Village Society provided the sweat equity to make the work beautiful and honor the conservation ethic of the park and its founder George W. Childs,” added Donahue. Black Locust trees that were removed from the grounds of Grey Towers National Historic Site were also used in the project.
The site now includes accessible trails and picnic sites that meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and the bridges, walkways, and overlooks have been restored to a condition much like what visitors would have seen there in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth- centuries. New restroom facilities, parking areas, and picnic sites complete the setting. Wayside exhibits explaining the story of the site will be installed along the trail and at overlooks at a later date.
Superintendent Donahue continued: “This project was very important to me. Childs Park, as it is known locally, represents everything that the NPS stands for including preservation of natural and cultural resources and partnerships with our local neighbors. My first project here was re-opening the Dingmans Falls Visitor Center in 2004 after an 8 year closure and now it has come full circle with the rehabilitation and reopening of Childs Park. This site is one of the most popular places to visit in the recreation area and serves visitors who come from great distances to see the three waterfalls and hemlock forests around which the site has been constructed as well as visitors who live just down the street or in neighboring communities. It is one of the crown jewels of Pike County, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the National Park Service and we are extremely pleased to be able to share it with the public once again.”
Deputy Superintendent Leonard pointed out that almost everyone in the park contributed in some way to the completion of this project. In April, an employee work day was held during which staff members from all divisions and disciplines pitched in to complete the final touches to the site before opening. “Now we need our visitors to respect and care for this special place so that it can be enjoyed for years to come,” he added. George W. Childs Recreation Site is one of several locations in the park to be designated as a “Carry In, Carry Out” site this year. Visitors must take everything they bring in, including trash, with them when they leave. The project cost $2.9 million.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 395 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.