Gas firms not deterred by slowdown in Deer Lakes Park drilling talks
Negotiations over a proposal to drill for natural gas under Allegheny County's Deer Lakes Park have slowed but are not in danger of falling apart, a gas company official said.
Michael Hillebrand, executive vice president of Huntley & Huntley, said the process has “bogged down” though not because of demands the county made.
He would not offer more details about the negotiations because they are ongoing. He said there was no risk that either Huntley & Huntley or Range Resources, the only companies to submit a joint proposal to drill under the park, would abandon the effort.
Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for Range Resources, said negotiations continue as expected. He said he could not comment further.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the process has pleased him so far. Fitzgerald said he hopes to bring a contract proposal to the Allegheny County Council in the “next month or two.”
Huntley & Huntley and Range Resources propose to drill under Deer Lakes Park, a 1,180-acre county park in West Deer and Frazer, from well pads on private property outside the park. Drilling could generate $2.5 million in upfront payments to the county and $35 million to $74 million in the coming decades, according to initial offers.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling striking down sections of Act 13, the state's drilling law, has not disrupted negotiations, Fitzgerald said.
“They lived without Act 13. They did business during Act 13,” Fitzgerald said of gas companies. “My sense is in some areas where (drilling) has been going on, where it's accepted, like in this part of the county, it will continue.”
Councilwoman Barbara Daly Danko, whose proposed moratorium on drilling under county land was voted down last year, expressed concern: “The (state) Supreme Court decisions should definitely give the county pause as to whether we can go forward right now.”
Lori Ziencik, chair of the Frazer Township Board of Supervisors, said the township has no intention of rewriting zoning regulations as allowed by the court's decision.
Fitzgerald has offered to take council members on tours of the park and nearby well sites on Feb. 3 and Feb. 11, according to an email to council members.
Council Vice President Nick Futules, D-Oakmont and chair of the parks committee, requested the tours so council members can see conditions at the park, where restrooms are boarded up and pavilions are caving in.
“They need immediate repair,” Futules said.
The county intends to spend nearly $500,000 on shelter renovations and $250,000 on restroom renovations, according to the 2014 capital budget. Fitzgerald has said half of any revenue from drilling will go toward county parks.
“Is this what we have to do to fix some broken toilets? Ruin our parks?” asked Mel Packer, 68, of Point Breeze, a member of Protect Our Parks and a regular opponent of drilling at county council meetings.
Packer and other antidrilling activists have called for negotiations to be public.
Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Roman Catholic Church in midst of culture clash over gays
- 2 killed in single-vehicle crash in Pittsburgh
- East Liberty man charged with Larimer shooting
- Snake bites on the rise in Western Pa.
- Author of Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its effects in Carnegie
- Western Pa. prosecutors zero in on human trafficking; legislation pending
- Pittsburgh police motorcycle officer seriously injured in crash
- Newsmaker: Mark Rubenstein
- Peduto pushes for affordable housing in East Liberty redevelopment
- Proposed 8-story apartment complex called too tall in North Side’s Garden Theater area
- Allegheny RAD executive director moving on after 2 decades