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Energy co. to give Holtwood park to conservancy

The Associated Press

HOLTWOOD, Pa. — A power company has agreed to give a popular Pennsylvania park to a nature conservancy after getting zapped for closing it in the spring, but when or whether it will reopen remains unclear.

After selling Holtwood Dam on April 1, Talen Energy closed off more than 400 acres of its land (marked in blue) in Lancaster County to the public.

In late April, Talen Energy of Allentown booted the public from Holtwood Picnic & Recreation Area, a 400-acre tract in a rural farming area in Lancaster County that had served the public for at least 50 years.

After it sold a nearby hydroelectric plant, Talen was no longer subject to a federal requirement to provide the public with recreational opportunities.

Residents complained the company gave zero notice of the closure and they fought to reopen it.

Now, Talen has reached a deal to donate 200 acres to the Lancaster County Conservancy by the end of the year, the conservancy announced Tuesday.

Access to the popular trail called Kelly’s Run reopened in July. However, the park remains closed while details are worked out.

Conservancy officials told LNP newspaper that running a community park isn’t in their mission, and they have offered to give the park to Martic Township, where there was an outcry over the park’s closure.

“We just simply cannot operate a public park with our existing mission. It’s not what we do. It’s what municipalities do,” said Philip Wenger, the conservancy’s chief executive officer.

The township is mailing a questionnaire to residents asking if they should take on the cost of running the park.

“We are interested but we need to do a little more research,” said Duane Sellers, chairman of the township supervisors. “We are going to have to look for sustainable funding.”

Martic Township doesn’t tax its residents, other than a one-time tax when a piece of real estate is sold, Sellers said. If residents want the park, the township would likely have to tax them to pay for its maintenance.