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Fayette commissioner's plan for shale legacy fund money dies

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A Fayette County commissioner's proposal to earmark $100,000 in Marcellus shale legacy fund money to two projects died for lack of a second on Tuesday.

During an agenda meeting, Angela Zimmerlink proposed designating $50,000 each for farmland preservation and for construction of the Sheepskin Trail. She wanted to place the item on the board's agenda for a vote next Tuesday, but it failed when neither Al Ambrosini nor Vince Zapotosky would second it.

Ambrosini and Zapotosky said they want to review other possible uses for the money before committing any dollars to specific projects.

Zimmerlink said the Farmland Preservation Board could combine the proposed $50,000 allocation with a $50,000 match in state funds. The money would then be used to purchase farmland for preservation, she said.

Funds are needed for the Sheepskin Trail to combat vandalism at the Dunbar comfort station, she said. She said security cameras at the location could solve the problem.

The Sheepskin Trail is a 34-mile rail-trail project planned to link to the north with the Great Allegheny Passage, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and the American Discovery Trail. To the south, it will connect with the West Virginia Rail-Trail System and the American Discovery Trail.

Zimmerlink said the county has $229,864 in legacy fund disbursements available from 2011 and 2012.

In an unrelated matter, commissioners on Tuesday will vote to rescind an earlier resolution that called for refurbishing the Fredericktown Ferry.

The 200-year-old ferryboat crosses the Monongahela River between Fayette and Washington counties.

Commissioners previously voted unanimously to cease operating the ferry on Sept. 3 because of declining use.

The ferry shuttles pedestrians and vehicles. The two-minute trip costs 50 cents for pedestrians and $2 per car, with higher rates for trucks and larger vehicles.

Fayette and Washington counties have shared costs to run the ferry, with Fayette taking on the added expense of employing riverboat pilots and managing operations.

The ferry generated $91,063 in fares in 2009 but only $38,219 in 2012, according to Controller Sean Lally. It posted a $44,678 loss in 2012, and the two counties contributed a combined $155,112 toward its $238,009 operating expenses in 2012.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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