SEND MESSAGE TO SENATE

SEND MESSAGE TO SENATE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         

October 1, 2012                                                            

CONSERVATION, RECREATION ORGANIZATIONS SEND MESSAGE TO SENATE: FIX PARKS-FOR-CASH BILL OR VOTE NO

HARRISBURG, PA. – More than 80 conservation and recreation organizations from across Pennsylvania have signed a letter imploring the state Senate to either fix House Bill 2224 – also known as the parks-for-cash bill – or reject it in its entirety.

The letter was delivered this morning to the Senate, which could vote on the bill as early as today. The organizations that signed the letter count tens of thousands of Pennsylvania residents as members and supporters.

“Pennsylvanians who care about their local parks and greenspaces are outraged over this bill,” said Andrew M. Loza,” executive director of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association. “This letter sends a clear message to the Senate that the bill should not move forward without an amendment that protects our parklands from being sold for short-sighted gain.”

The Pennsylvania House passed the bill in the spring, the measure having escaped any close analysis of its obscure content.  Now, even some House members have publicly questioned whether the bill was written correctly.

“Given the obscure language in the bill, it is understandable that the House may not have realized the potential consequences for public parks throughout the Commonwealth,” said Karen Burke-Crawford, executive director of the Pennsylvania Recreation & Park Society. “Fortunately, the bill can still be fixed to meet the needs of local governments and protect parklands that our communities cherish.”

Andrew Heath, executive director of the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition, urged the Senate to take a close look at the bill and refrain from voting until the concerns of the conservation and recreation community are addressed.

“The Senate should not rush a vote on this,” said Heath.  “Instead, our lawmakers should take the time they need to get this bill right. The future of our parks, farms and open spaces depends on the leadership of our legislature.” 

The text of the letter follows. For more information visit conservationadvocate.org.

October 1, 2012

Subject:  Oppose or Amend House Bill 2224

Dear Senator:

The undersigned organizations urge you to oppose House Bill 2224 or amend it to ensure that parklands continue to receive reasonable protections under the law. 

HB 2224 allows a local governing body to abandon long-standing decisions and commitments regarding parks that have shaped a community.  The legislation provides that, no matter the use by the public and support of governing bodies for decades or even centuries, the present governing body can undo a park in a single vote.  Yes, the responsible government officials can be held accountable in the next election, but it is too late for the park; once gone, it’s gone.

HB 2224 eliminates any need for the present governing body to justify its decision to sell particular classes of parkland. If the land wasn’t acquired in certain specified ways, the governing body will be free to sell for a good reason, a bad one or no reason at all.

Recently established parks are likely to have sufficient safeguards to prevent ill-considered sales, but HB 2224 will cause a significant number of older parks to be vulnerable. Which parks are at risk can only be determined through a labored and time-consuming process of reading through old deeds.

HB 2224 says that parkland acquired by donation should be treated more respectfully than lands acquired through condemnation or lands purchased for a dollar or for full market value. But why should the method of acquisition matter? The method has no bearing on the public’s enjoyment and love of these places.

For hundreds of years, Pennsylvanians have relied on local parks.  People have made decisions on where to live and work based on proximity to parks, which they see as stable, reliable places for rest, renewal and assurance in their everyday lives. People expect that their parks will endure.

The undersigned organizations support making improvements to the process by which local governments seek to dispose of properties that don’t serve a public purpose. We urge you to ensure that changes to the law intended to help local governments do not discard long-standing principles and safeguards that protect our parks from shortsighted decision-making. Please consider changes to HB 2224 and oppose it as currently written. 

Sincerely,

Andrew M. Loza
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Land Trust Association
717.230.8560 (o) | 717.743.0146 (c)  

Karen Burke-Crawford
Executive Director
PA Recreation and Park Society, Inc
717.234.4272 

Signatories
Mark Zakutansky, Mid-Atlantic Policy Manager
Appalachian Mountain Club 

Jerry Potocnak, President
Arrowhead Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Phil Wallis, Executive Director
Audubon Pennsylvania 

Jim Bonner, Executive Director
Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania

Kim Murphy, Executive Director
Berks County Conservancy 

Christopher Amato, President
Bertsch Hokendauqua Catasauqua
Watershed Association
 

Alex Doty, Executive Director
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia 

Sherri Evans-Stanton, Director
Environmental Management Center
Brandywine Conservancy

Mike Krempasky, President
Capital Area Green Belt Association 

Elizabeth Kirchner, Founder
Central PA Farmland Preservation Artists 

Anna N. Yelk, Executive Director
Central Pennsylvania Conservancy 

LeAnn Murray, Esq., Staff Attorney
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Jennifer Garfield, Executive Director
Chestnut Hill Historical Society 

Scott Hoffman, President
Chestnut Ridge Chapter, Trout Unlimited

George Jugovic, Jr., President & CEO
Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future 

Jennifer Shuey, Executive Director
ClearWater Conservancy

Mary Lou McFarland, President
Conservancy of Montgomery County 

Todd McNew, State Director
The Conservation Fund, Pennsylvania Office 

Bill Kern, Executive Director
Countryside Conservancy

Reed P. Moyer, President/CEO
Defined Performance, Inc. 

Elissa Garafalo, President/Executive Director
Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Inc. 

Sue Currier, Executive Director
Delaware highlands Conservancy 

Marion Kyde, PhD, President
Delaware River Greenway Partnership 

B. Scott Fiegel, Director
Ecological Associates, LLC 

Phillip Swank, Executive Director
Endless Mountain Heritage Region, Inc. 

Laurie Nicholl, President
Energy Conservation Council of Pennsylvania 

Sean Kenny, Executive Director
Farm & Natural Lands Trust of York County

Dan Altman, President
Fox Chapel Land Trust 

Cary F. Leptuck, President
French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust 

Bonita Freeman, President
Friends of Fort Halifax Park, Inc.

Donna Smith-Remick, President
Friends of Poquessing Watershed, Inc.

Tim Lander, President
Friends of the Chester Valley Trail

Frone Crawford, Esq.
Frone Crawford Law Offices

Katelyn Griffith, Volunteer Supervisor
Global Links

Robert Wasilewski, President
Greater Wyoming Valley Audubon Society 

Andrew Heath, Executive Director
Growing Greener Coalition 

Jeff Marshall, President
Heritage Conservancy 

Sean Brady, Executive Director
Hollow Oak Land Trust

Victoria E. Michaels, Executive Director
Independence Conservancy

Stan Kotala, Conservation Chair
Juniata Valley Audubon 

Curt Ashenfelter, Executive Director
Keystone Trails Association 

Ellie Hyde, Administrator
Lackawanna County Farmland Preservation 

Tom Fuhrman, Executive Director
Lake Erie Region Conservancy 

Joe Buckwalter, Director of Monitoring
Lake Sheridan Tarn Watch 

Karen Martynick, Executive Director
Lancaster Farmland Trust 

Norma Calhoun, President
Land Conservancy of Adams County 

Gwen Lacy, Esq. Executive Director
Land Conservancy of Southern Chester County 

Jon Levin, Conservation Chair
Lehigh Valley Audubon Society 

W.E. “Pete” Goodman
Open Land Conservancy of Chester County 

Sally Zaino, Executive Director
Manada Conservancy 

Dulcie Flaharty, Executive Director
Montgomery County Lands Trust 

Molly Morrison, President
Natural Lands Trust 

Melinda Hughs-Wert, President
Nature Abounds 

Paul Lumia, Executive Director
North Branch Land Trust 

Kim Baldwin, Publisher
Northeast Pennsylvania Natural Awakenings Magazine 

Bob Pennell, Secretary
PA Council of Trout Unlimited 

David Masur, Director
PennEnvironment 

David J. Robertson, Ph.D., Executive Director
Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust 

Alma Forsyth, Public Policy Director
Pennsbury Land Trust 

John Walliser, Vice President
Pennsylvania Environmental Council 

Marci Mowery, President
Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation 

Dave Mazza, Regional Director
Pennsylvania Resources Council 

Lauren Bornfield, Executive Director
Philadelphia Parks Alliance 

Greg Nace, President
Pittsburgh Botanic Garden 

Dawn Gorham, Executive Director
Pocono Heritage Land Trust 

John Andrew Gallery, Executive Director
Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia 

Mindy Crawford, Executive Director
Preservation Pennsylvania 

Art Schiavo, Conservation Chairperson
Quittapahilla Audubon Society 

Vicky Michaels, Secretary
Raccoon Creek Watershed Association 

Leslie Bowes, Executive Director
Radnor Conservancy 

Pat Tomes, Program Manager
Rails-Trails Conservancy, NE Regional Office 

Mary Tracy, President
Scenic Philadelphia 

David Demko, Assistant Director
Scenic Pittsburgh 

Joseph R. Symick, President & CEO
Schuylkill River Development Corporation

Linda S. Sieber, Chair
Sherman’s Creek Conservation Association, Inc. 

Jeff Schmidt, Director
Sierra Club, Pennsylvania Chapter 

Bill Kunze, Senior Policy Advisor
The Nature Conservancy, Pennsylvania Chapter 

Jim Engel, Executive Director
Tinicum Conservancy 

Tom Gilbert, Regional Director
Trust for Public Land 

Cindy Kahey, Administrator
Union County Agricultural Land Preservation 

Thomas Saunders, President & CEO
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Chris Kocher, President & CEO
Wildlands Conservancy

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1 Comment on "SEND MESSAGE TO SENATE"

  • Jimmy says

    Thanks for keeping us aware of what is happening.

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