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Freeport considers accepting offer of PennDOT land

| Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, 12:36 a.m.

PennDOT wants Freeport Borough to take over some of its land once construction around the new Laneville Bridge is finished.

The land includes two parcels and a right of way that total 1 to 2 acres along Buffalo Creek.

Borough officials say PennDOT acquired the land in the 1960s through eminent domain so the Freeport Bridge could be built. The state took over land from about 100 residences along the creek, near Freeport's entrance.

The borough solicitor and council president say PennDOT has said it won't maintain the rough, unkempt area, nor does it want to take the time to track down each property owner to offer each portion of land back.

Over the course of about 50 years, those properties have changed, leaving disjointed property lines that may be undesirable.

“There have been changes in ownership and differences (in the property circumstances),” Solicitor Gerald DeAngelis said.

So it wants the borough to lease the parcel, which is located between the old and new Laneville bridges along the creek.

PennDOT also owns an almost quarter-acre of land on the other side of the new bridge, which it wants to hand over to the borough.

Council said the borough's been partially maintaining the area for a while and cutting the grass, even though it belongs to PennDOT.

“If we left it to PennDOT, it would get cut every two years,” Council President Don Rehner said.

DeAngelis says normally when a municipality leases land in that type of situation, it would pay based on the current property value.

However, the borough might be able to pay a nominal fee in exchange for its willingness to take the land.

“According to a shake and a wink of an eye, that might be $1 a year,” DeAngelis said.

But even if the money the borough would pay for the lease is negligible, it would still have to consider the cost of maintenance, which some believe might not be worth its while.

If the borough does decide to take over the land, it would probably turn the area into a small parklet, officials said.

Council says it won't make a decision anytime soon .

It wouldn't take over the properties until the Freeport Bridge is completed at least a year from now.

In other business:

• Council hired Marcia Westendorf as a part-time secretary. She will be paid $8.29 per hour.

• The borough will use Vogel Refuse as the trash collector starting next year. The borough will pay $113,569 per year for the next three years for the company's services.

• The borough received a $2,000 grant from Walmart that it will use to buy two new police radios.

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