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Freeport might transfer paper alleys to residents

| Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Freeport Council might hand over paper alleys to adjoining property owners, giving them ownership of the small strips of land, rather than the borough.

Borough officials came to the conclusion after a decaying brick wall along Mill Street was brought to their attention last month.

They're still unsure as to who's responsible for fixing the wall, which runs along one of Freeport's many paper alleys — alleys that were mapped out decades ago, but were never used or whose use has since been abandoned.

It's not that the borough is trying to do landowners any favors.

The impetus for the new ordinance is a desire to release the borough of any liability for the alleys.

Last month, council discussed fixing a portion of the 12-foot-long wall of which a portion was thought to sit on borough property. It was estimated to cost about $600 to repair.

However, council still is unsure if part of the wall is on borough property and doesn't want to be responsible if the whole thing comes down.

"My concern is that it will add liability to the borough," Solicitor Gerald DeAngelis said.

To avoid liability, council is considering following in the footsteps of Apollo, which relinquished liability for some of its paper alleys.

Now borough officials are thinking about doing the same and divvying up paper alleys between individual homeowners.

NiSource pipeline

The old Buckeye pipeline running through part of Freeport will be replaced with a new high-pressure gas line, but shouldn't affect residents.

NiSource Gas Transmission & Storage is replacing the old Buckeye line, that was once used to ship diesel fuel, with a new 20-inch high-pressure natural gas line.

Over the last couple of months, residents from the Buffalo Trails neighborhood in nearby Buffalo Township raised concerns after learning that the pipeline might run directly under or near their houses.

However, the portion of the pipeline that runs through Freeport lies under the Trilogy Golf Development property, which includes the Phoenix at Buffalo Valley Golf Course.

Council President Don Rehner met with NiSource officials to ensure that residents won't be affected by the new pipeline.

Borough officials are still waiting on a map to indicate exactly where the new pipeline will be laid, but are sure it will still run under the Trilogy Golf property.

Freeport Terminals

Council hopes to find middle ground with Freeport Terminals, Inc.

Borough officials plan to meet with company officials Wednesday to address long-running concerns they've had about truck routes and other issues.

A priority for council is reimbursement to the borough from the company for road damage and upkeep.

Currently, Freeport Terminals pays the borough $2,500 per year, which has remained the same since 1983. Council says the current reimbursement doesn't even account for inflation.

"We need to up the ante from $2,500," Mayor James Swartz said.

Borough officials also want to address what will happen to truck routes when reconstruction of the Freeport Bridge is finished, as well as the muddy areas near the terminals.

"I'm glad we're finally getting a meeting," Council President Don Rehner said.

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