The effort to save a site believed to be a Revolutionary War prison camp got a $75,000 boost Wednesday.
But that's only a fraction of the $250,000 preservationists were requesting from the York County Commissioners.
The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit that has been acting as a stopgap financier for the Camp Security site in Springettsbury Township, on Monday asked commissioners for the money.
In a split vote with Vice-President Commissioner Doug Hoke dissenting, President Commissioner Steve Chronister and Commissioner Chris Reilly voted to give $75,000 to the group and revisit the cause later if there's a need.
The county will pay for the donation out of its $369,000 share of an impact fee from natural gas drilling in the state's Marcellus Shale. Though there are no wells in York, state law gives all counties a share of the money.
Hoke voted against the measure because he wanted to give $100,000. Money in the fund must be used for recreation-related or open-space projects.
Hoke said the county has already committed to give $87,000 of the fund to a Heidelberg Township land preservation project. The board also voted Wednesday to give $40,000 to fund a study on a recreational trail proposal for Red Lion, Dallastown, Yoe, and York Township.
With the $75,000 allocation to Camp Security, the fund has $167,000 remaining for when the Camp Security issue is revisited, Hoke observed.
Future donation? Chronister said he wasn't opposed to giving $100,000, but he wants to wait until closer to the deadline by which the money must be raised.
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 pitched the proposal to commissioners on Monday.
If there's still a need closer to the deadline, commissioners could consider giving an additional $25,000 or more, Chronister said.
McNew said the land, once preserved, will provide county residents with a place to enjoy nature and serve as an attraction for history buffs.
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. That group is hoping to raise $400,000 from private donors near and far, said president Carol Tanzola.
She said she appreciates the commissioners' support, and she's optimistic the group will be able to raise the remaining money by the deadline.
"Let me put it this way, after fighting this four over 12 years, I'll be damned if I'm going to lose it over $400,000," she said.
Background: 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 the groups 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.