HONESDALE, Pa. -- First-day hikes are being planned at state parks all across the country for New Year's Day as a way to start off the new year on the right foot, but hikers in Wayne County won't be using a popular hiking trail that is closed until further notice.
In May of 2018, parts of Wayne County were shocked by a tornado and straight-line wind damage all in one afternoon. Thousands were left without power, and the tree damage at Gibbons Park in Honesdale was extensive.
"There's a lot of safety concerns around it, so what we're able to do with this project is clear completely blocked trails," said James Jennings of Honesdale Parks and Rec.
More than a year and a half later, you'll now find "park closed" signs at every entrance of Gibbons Park for a timber project that could last nearly two months. Downed trees will be removed, and so will trees affected by the emerald ash borer beetle.
"This is going to be an extensive timber project in terms of, tress will be downed, brush will be cleared. It's just not a safe environment right now," said Jennings.
Because of that, borough officials urge people to take the signs seriously. They don't want anyone visiting the park or using its popular hiking trail.
"It was really sad because we do love the trail," Katie Waldrep said. "I'm glad they're going to be getting this work done. It'll make it a little safer, a little more beautiful. It'll preserve the trail for people to be able to use it."
While folks we spoke to are disappointed, they say this is the perfect time for the project.
"In this time of year, we're not always able to be on the trail anyway due to the weather or the temperatures, so I feel like it's a great time to get it done. That way, it'll be ready for us in the spring and in the summer to use when it's most beautiful."
How long the project takes will, of course, depend on the weather.
"Right now, we're experiencing a little bit of rain, so the ground is softer. They like it to be much colder, so the terrain is much more manageable."
Honesdale officials hope the project will be completed, and the park will be back open in a month or two.