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County to hear public on Deer Lakes Park drilling proposal

| Friday, April 4, 2014, 9:37 p.m.

Allegheny County Council members will hear public comment on a proposal to drill under Deer Lakes Park, but will not vote on the matter during their meeting on Tuesday.

When the proposal is introduced, it will be sent directly to the Parks Committee, said council Vice President Nick Futules, chair of the committee.

After several committee meetings and at least one more public hearing, council members will vote on a proposal by energy companies Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley to drill for natural gas under Deer Lakes Park from well pads outside park boundaries.

Futules, D-Oakmont, intends to announce plans for the public hearing at Tuesday's meeting.

When the Parks Committee meets on Wednesday, he plans to outline the schedule of committee meetings. Futules wants to bring in environmental and safety experts, representatives from Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley and Beau Beard, an attorney at Stonecipher Law Firm, Downtown, that the county hired to assist in negotiating the lease.

“None of our meetings are going to be short,” Futules said.

More than 30 people had signed up to speak at Tuesday's meeting as of 5 p.m. Friday.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald held a public meeting about drilling on Wednesday in Deer Lakes High School.

Futules and several other council members attended the four-hour meeting.

“I walked away from that meeting with the fact for the last eight months we have heard nothing but negative testimony. We went into the district, and we heard from people in favor of it; people who live there,” Futules said. “Not everybody is against it. If you take away the people from the city, most people were for it.”

Councilwoman Barbara Daly Danko, D-Regent Square, a vocal opponent of drilling under Deer Lakes Park and the sponsor of a failed moratorium on drilling under county parks, said she and other council members want to make sure the county is in compliance with a recent state Supreme Court ruling that struck down parts of Act 13, the state's drilling law.

“One of my goals all along was to have a discussion on this, and we're having that discussion,” Danko said.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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