Murrysville to debate seeking bids for gas rights
Murrysville Council will consider seeking bids for natural gas rights at the 315-acre Murrysville Community Park.
The move would allow residents to circulate petitions asking for the issue to be put to a vote as a referendum in the November election.
Huntley & Huntley Inc. requested a lease for the municipality's natural gas rights beneath part of Murrysville Community Park, along Wiestertown Road, officials announced at a council meeting on Wednesday.
Council can reject the proposal. Or, inasmuch as the municipality cannot agree to exclusive negotiations with a single company, it could seek competitive bids before granting a lease.
Council members likely will make a decision by April, Murrysville's chief administrator Jim Morrison said.
“It really is council's desire to have the citizens of the community make the decision on this, and the only way that ... can occur is if they would pass an ordinance identifying legislative intent to seek competitive bids for the lease,” he said.
Huntley & Huntley requested deep shale drilling, including Marcellus shale drilling, for 260 acres of the public park, Morrison said. The park is home to several athletic fields and a walking trail.
The company offered to pay $2,250 per acre to access the gas, along with 12 percent royalties. Both figures are low, Morrison said.
Officials are “not going to accept the lease,” he said.
“The leasing of the gas could generate close to a million dollars,” Morrison said. “It is significant sums of money.”
Representatives from Huntley & Huntley did not attend the council meeting.
Council would have to seek authority for a referendum through the county election bureau. If approved, residents could form a “citizens' committee” to collect signatures supporting a referendum, educate the public about the pros and cons, and develop a yes-or-no question for the ballot.
Council leaders are not permitted to develop the referendum, according to state and home rule charters. They can, however, assist a citizens group throughout the process.
Residents may not begin requesting signatures until April 15.
“I think the citizens are the best ones to make the decision: Is it worth doing?” Councilman David Perry said.
About 20 residents listened to council's discussion.
Resident Anita Smolenski questioned the price figures.
“How do you arrive at those numbers? Are we selling our soul for a thousand dollars?” she said. “(There are) a lot of unknowns here.”
As council prepares to educate residents about the topic, Chet Smolenski requested that they figure out costs to infrastructure.
“I don't know why this is a question. This was supposed to be a protected area,” resident Leona Dunnett said. “I understand the draw of the millions of dollars. But do you really want to play soccer or have your kids play soccer downwind of a frack pad?”
Rossilynne Skena Culgan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Youngwood Fire Department to dedicate memorial at station
- Greensburg police captain to attend highly selective academy
- Bushy Run Battlefield upgrades to include trail, signs, landscaping
- Historic Greensburg Art Center joins Cat’s Meow collection
- Families welcome new members on Adoption Day in Westmoreland County
- Food drive volunteer in Westmoreland County has purse stolen
- Police on hunt for suspects in unrelated Penn Township, Manor cases
- Westmoreland County, state AG to get funds from illegal lottery
- Fall fly-by: Blue Angels stop in Unity to discuss 2015 show
- Builder finds calling as chaplain at Westmoreland jail
- Walker: Applebees to help Jacobs Creek Area Faith in Action