Palmer Township's rope-swing tree at Penn Pump Park was cut down for safety reasons, the township's administration announced at Monday's supervisors meeting, and fans have taken to social media to protest its demise.
Facebook posts noted that generations of locals have swung off the tree into Bushkill Creek.
"Thousands of us know that tree,'' a poster said.
Other comments ranged from "tree of memories" to "It's a shame," to "This is so sad," to "Evil."
One poster, not as dejected, noted, "It's a tree … It'll be OK."
"It was a safety hazard," Township Manager Robert Williams said at Monday's supervisors' meeting.
Williams said the decision to cut down the tree was made after talks with township police and other staff members.
Scott Kistler, Palmer's superintendent of public works, parks and public utilities, said safety was the main issue, along with respect for the park.
"Kids were leaving the place a mess," he said.
He said trash and clothing was left near the tree regularly, and residents were complaining.
"I have personally shimmied 30 feet up that tree more than once to cut the rope down, and a rope would be back up within a week," Kistler said after the meeting. "I'd rather be having a conversation about why we cut the tree down than having a conversation about why we didn't after somebody got hurt."
"I think it was a big mistake (to cut down the tree)," Supervisor Jeffrey Young said during the meeting.
Other supervisors did not take a stand on cutting down the tree, though David Colver, chairman of the board, conceded he was a rope-swinger many years ago. Colver said he was aware of the social media comments, and that he stopped by the site earlier Monday and found a group of about 15 young people at the site, shocked that the tree was down.
Supervisor Ann-Marie Panella said the tree was probably at least 80 years old.
Some of the tree remained in the creek Monday, but Williams said the debris will be removed. Colver said other nearby trees were also cut down, and will be replaced. He said the tree was not cut down because of the many out-of-towners who use the park, which led Penn Pump being closed on weekends to anybody not attending a scheduled event there this summer.
The board found out from solicitor Charles Bruno that the Sheetz convenience store on Route 248 has won its bid to sell beer and wine. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board approved the transfer of a license from the former Wing Stop in Palmer to Sheetz, over the objections of the township. Residents have complained in the past about noise, litter and drag-racing near the store.
The convenience store will not sell alcohol for consumption at its outdoor seating area, and customers inside will be limited to two beverages, and alcohol to go. Bruno did not recommend an appeal of the PLCB ruling.
The supervisors discussed but did not vote on a proposal to allow the pickup of trash and recyclable material at 5 a.m., two hours earlier than the current 7 a.m., on certain days before holidays and in advance of forecast snowstorms.
"It only happened four days last year," Colver said, so predawn pickups will not be routine.
Landfills close early on days such as Christmas Eve, requiring haulers to start earlier. In case of expected storms, Williams would have the authority to allow earlier pickup. The plan will be reviewed at a future meeting.
The supervisors reviewed a plan to allow peddlers to sell their wares in the township from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., instead of the current 9-5 schedule. That will also be considered later.
The supervisors voted 4-0 in support of a grant application to Northampton County to help pay for a new ambulance for Suburban EMS, a non-profit rescue service. Young is executive director of the ambulance service and abstained from the vote.
The supervisors also unanimously approved a $15,500 contract for training a new K-9 officer. The dog will work to detect explosives and to patrol.