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Final Haycock Camp expansion hearing reveals a stark divide


Proponents and opponents of the Haycock Camping Ministries Inc. camp expansion made their cases amicably at the final conditional use hearing in Springtown.

Parents and former attendees spoke glowingly of their experiences at the bucolic site, and characterized the camp as a vital part of the Palisades community, providing facilities and services not available elsewhere in the district.

“The camp expansion would enhance opportunities for our children,” noted resident Stacy Finney.

Roark Birsner agreed. The basketball coach said there wasn’t enough space and time in the school district for his team to practice.

“To have a private organization want to build a community center would be very nice for the people of Springfield,” he said.

Danae Rice, of Upper Black Eddy, called the camp’s executive director Dave Stiansen “a godsend” for providing a place for her child to go. Without the summer camp, the single mother said she wouldn’t be able to work.

Expansion opponents listened respectfully, with only a mild scolding from one who said if you like it so much, you should live next to it.

Throughout the evening both opponents and Springfield supervisors repeatedly tried to establish a definitive number of current and future attendees.

“On an average day in summer, how many people show up?” inquired nearby resident Harry Squares. Citing 2023 figures, Stiansen cited 106 per day but later acknowledged numbers could change and intensify over the summer months.

Producing texts and eyewitnesses, opponents dismissed the camp’s forestry management plan, claiming the camp had continued logging for profit well after the final 2018 harvest.

“You could see a difference in the skyline,” remarked Elizabeth Sill, whose property overlooks the site.

Other speakers said the expansion would bring increased noise, traffic and other dire outcomes.

“There will be an irreversible negative impact on our property values,” observed neighbor Frank Nekoranik.

John Gouck said flooding would be exacerbated on Haycock Run Road and predicted more accidents on the notoriously circuitous Route 412, the major artery closest to the site.

Under the 30-year plan, additional areas on the 184-acre site would be cleared to make way for office, recreational and residential buildings, another shooting range, a sewage treatment facility and activity sites.

In the coming weeks, township supervisors will have the unenviable task of figuring out how they can accommodate increasing numbers of campers and recreational visitors while addressing a steady drumbeat of concerns of nearby residents.

And how to interpret the township ordinance prohibiting private camps from operating year-round when the site has clearly morphed into a year-round operation? A decision is expected by the end of June.

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