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Fitzgerald signs Deer Lakes Park drilling ordinance

| Monday, May 12, 2014, 10:54 a.m.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald approved drilling under Deer Lakes Park on Monday, signing an ordinance County Council members approved last week.

Fitzgerald's signature was not a surprise. The Squirrel Hill Democrat orchestrated the deal between the county and partners Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley, introduced the legislation authorizing drilling to council and voiced strong public support for the proposal.

There is no schedule set for when the oil and gas lease between the county and Range Resources will be signed, county spokeswoman Amie Downs said. Attorneys from both sides are working on minor changes.

Members of County Council voted, 9-5, at the end of a seven-hour meeting on May 6. Opponents to drilling under the park have asked council to reject the deal since August.

The legislation allows energy companies Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley to drill under the 1,180-acre park in West Deer and Frazer from well pads beyond the park's boundary. The companies hope to start drilling by the end of the year.

The county will receive $4.7 million in up-front bonus payments once the lease is signed. Fitzgerald has pledged to put about $2 million toward improvements in Deer Lakes Park.

Range Resources will donate $3 million to a parks improvement fund and pay the county 18 percent royalties from production.

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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