voice for democracy

Wilkes-Barre City Council hears of riverfront parks’ conditions and history – Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

By Jerry Lynott [email protected]
WILKES-BARRE — After a quick vote on the agenda items Thursday night, City Council spent the remainder of its public meeting hearing from people who want to clean up the riverfront parks and promote the Native American history of the area.
Council unanimously approved all four agenda items:
• Reappointments of city Attorney Tim Henry, city Finance Director Brett Kittrick and city Controller Darren Snyder to the Wilkes-Barre Finance Authority for terms expiring Oct. 28, 2024.
• Upgrades to traffic control devices at railroad crossings at Wilkes-Barre Boulevard and North Main Street. The projects are being done by the rail line’s owner, the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at no cost to the city.
But unlike the crossings, Kirby and Nesbitt parks along the Susquehanna River needed to be cleaned and cleared of debris, overgrowth and the crime several speakers said made them feel unsafe when they visited the city-owned natural areas.
Jerry Reisinger, who’s spoken before about the parks’ poor conditions, said Kirby Park holds historical significance for the birth of the United States. The Seneca Nation’s main village was there, he said.
“We gave you the democracy that you have today, ” Reisinger said. “It’s a story that needs to be told in this valley, here. Because we are the birthplace of matriarchal democracy in the world, no where else did this take place. And to see it a crime haven is disgraceful.”
Council Chairman Tony Brooks told Reisinger the Native Americans are owed a debt gratitude.
“There’s a painting in the Luzerne County Courthouse of the Albany Congress of 1754 where Benjamin Franklin got the idea for the Articles of Confederation from the Iroquois,” Brooks said. “We learned from those six tribes to get along so that our 13 colonies could get along.”
Danielle McGrogan said Wilkes-Barre could take the lead and take care of its riverfront parks. McGrogan, owner of Nucleus Raw Foods on Public Square, added the parks could be retreats from the daily stresses of the world for people, but the city has to make them safe.
“We may not be able to fix the problems outside Wilkes-Barre, but we can fix our portion of them and by our example, other towns and corporate entities will follow our lead,” McGrogan said.
A documentary on the riverfront is scheduled to be released next month, speakers said.
Council will hold a combined work session and public meeting beginning at 6 p.m. on Nov. 9 .
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.