Some of York County's $369,000 share of the impact fee from natural gas drilling in the state's Marcellus Shale could be used to preserve what's believed to be the site of a Revolutionary War prison camp in Springettsbury Township.
The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit that has been acting as a stopgap financier for the Camp Security site in Springettsbury Township, on Monday asked county commissioners for $250,000 toward the cause.
The group needs about $600,000 by May so it can cover the $1.05 million cost of buying the 47-acre site, one of only a handful of Revolutionary War POW camps that have not been lost to residential or commercial development, said Todd McNew, Pennsylvania State Director at the Conservation Fund.
He told commissioners that the land, once preserved, will provide county residents with a place to enjoy nature and serve as an attraction for history buffs.
But while the county commissioners said they're on board with the preservation, they aren't likely to contribute the full $250,000 when they take up the issue at Wednesday's regular meeting.
Other requests: Though the amount requested is less than York's share of an impact fee charged to gas drillers, other groups have already requested some of the money - which must be used for recreation-related and open-space projects, commissioners said.
President Commissioner Steve Chronister said he's "not going to meet their expectations for $250,000," but he's considering a smaller amount.
Chronister said the county, because of the economy, is probably far from the threat of residential development pressure.
"But this is a great idea to preserve for its history and location," he said.
Vice-president Commissioner Doug Hoke said officials need to determine how much money is left and how much can be donated without shorting other projects.
Commissioner Chris Reilly said he'd like to see Springettsbury Township, which NcNew said has committed $100,000, pay more toward the project in its municipality.
"(The Conservation Fund) made a compelling case that it needs to be completed," Reilly said. "I think everyone agrees it's a worthwhile project ... but we can't give $250,000."
The board is expected to take up the issue at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the commissioners meeting room, 28 E. Market St.
Other efforts: As county commissioners mull their donation, historical societies and other groups are chipping in to save the property.
The Greater Dover Historical Society, hoping to spur action from other societies, recently committed to making a donation, said President Madelyn Shermeyer. The amount won't be decided until next month, she said.
"It concerns all of York County," she said. "And this is not just York County. This is nationwide. Camp Security was an important part of the Revolutionary War."
The Friends of Camp Security organization, which has pushed for the plot's historical preservation, is also seeking private donors to make up the funding gap.
The Conservation Fund bought the parcel last May from developer Timothy Pasch and is holding it until the money can be used to turn it over to Springettsbury Township.
The Locust Grove Road property is believed to have held about 1,500 captured British soldiers and their families between 1781 and 1783. The site was named one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" in 2005 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
If Friends of Camp Security can't get its share by May, the parcel will go back on the market, and there's no guarantee it would be preserved.
To donate, people can send money to: Friends of Camp Security, PO Box 20008, York, PA 17402. More information is available at www.campsecurity.com.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.