Board eyes conveyance for open space
“We are conveying the state approximately 100 acres of land,” said borough attorney Ned Fitzpatrick during the Aug. 6 Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting.
The borough purchased 146 acres of land on Andrew Mountain Road for $750,000 last year with the understanding that a portion of it would be used as open space for passive recreation.
Mayor Robert Mezzo said the conveyance to the state is not a conveyance of title or ownership, but rather the granting of a conservation easement.
This easement is an agreement that the property will not be used for anything other than passive recreation, Mezzo said.
Passive recreation means that that no permanent structure can be built on that land.
Mezzo said the land will still be accessible to hikers.
“Trails would be a logical part of the property in the future,” Mezzo said.
Conveying this part of the land also has a financial benefit for the borough.
Last December the borough was informed that it would receive a $315,000 grant from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for conserving the land as open space.
Fitzpatrick said the state is holding the grant money while the borough finalizes the paperwork for the conveyance.
“We’re just trying to dot our Is and cross our Ts because we have to complete the application for the state grant,” Fitzpatrick said.
In 2010, 39 acres of land on Gunntown Road were designated as open space, ultimately becoming the Gunntown Nature Preserve.
Mezzo said the Gunntown property was marked as a passive use park through a deed restriction that was put on the land records rather than a conveyance to the state.
Mezzo said the borough chose to convey the land on Andrew Mountain Road to the state this time because it is a more permanent option.
The remaining 46 acres of property on Andrew Mountain Road is planned to be used for active recreation, such as athletic fields.
Mezzo said there are preliminary overlays of sports fields for the park, but no funding sources have been identified for the creation of the fields as of yet. There are no set site plans for any part of the park yet either, he said.
The Board of Mayor and Burgesses sent the plans for the conveyance of land to the Planning Commission for its approval. If the commission approves it, it will come back to the board for final approval.