Officials working to make 'Peace Rock' safer

TILDEN TWP., Pa. - Less than a week after a drowning at a popular summer spot on the border between Berks and Schuylkill counties, officials are coming together to try to find a way to make it safer. The area is known as "Peace Rock" or "The Rock."

"It seems like everyone's hands are tied and they can't do anything or they don't have the funding to do anything," said Jasper Jalbert, who has lived in Tilden Township most of his life.

Who owns Peace Rock? That's an issue officials came together to address. The meeting Friday followed the drowning of Essam Saba at the Rock on Sunday.

Although the meeting was planned before Saba's death, it focused on ways to keep people safe. It also aimed to protect the land owned by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The meeting touched on public safety, trash, alcohol, drugs and parking.

"People are dumping trash over the beach over the river bank. There's people defecating in buckets," said Jalbert.

Many community members feel the visitors are ruining a place near to their hearts. "this is where I grew up, and I don't want to see it turn into a land-fill. there's just trash everywhere.

Specifics have not been released, but short-term changes will take effect in the coming weeks.

"I don't see the need for another meeting we pretty much know what we have to here," said Pennsylvania Rep. Jerry Knowles.

Officials clarified that being at The Rock is considered trespassing. DEP and police will partner together and crack down on any illegal activity.

"There is an element of trespassing. You're not supposed to be out there, although commonwealth property, it's not public accessible commonwealth property," said Jeffrey Means, the DEP program manager.

The DEP will put up no trespassing signs and will now have the jurisdiction to arrest any trespassers. Getting in the water on the property is illegal, but officials said technically floating through is not.

"We recognize the seriousness of this problem and we know that it needs to be addressed and it will be by the right people," said Knowles.

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