City will make sound decision on lake land proposal

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Cumberland Times-News, printed February 21, 2011

 

 

To the Editor:

The Feb. 15 public hearing on the proposed sale of the Evitt’s Creek Watershed land, provided citizens an opportunity to express their thoughts.

Once the votes are cast at the March 1, meeting, four months worth of public debate will have been heard and over 100 hours worth of meetings with lawyers, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy representatives, and professional foresters will have been conducted by elected city officials.

What all city officials acknowledge is that this sale is being considered for the purpose of protecting the magnificent forest land and water supply, not for money.

And with a background in natural resources, I have reviewed the conservancy and the city’s lack of resources to effectively manage this forest in recent years, without potentially substantial tax increases to fund doing so.

Without equivocation, I am comfortable with the conservancy’s plan to protect this resource and our water supply. The city currently lacks the resources to manage the forest effectively and I stand solidly opposed to any tax increases.

This is not to be misconstrued as supporting the proposal, but supporting the conservation tenets of the proposal. Legal concerns remain, not the least of which is the simple matter of ownership, which has repeatedly been acknowledged as the primary concern.

The sale is being contemplated as a method of protecting the forest forever, from future leaders who may wish to arbitrarily sell the land to a developer. The city has no interest in large-scale commercial harvesting of timber or clear cutting, which would detract from water quality, albeit for a financial gain.

Massive cutting of the timber for money, as has been called a “cash cow,” would have a detrimental impact on the natural process of water filtering and would increase the filtering cost, thereby increasing water expenses to residents.  

An outparcel of land involved in the sale was initially purchased by the city for the creation of a third dam, but there is no realistic reason to create a third dam as the amount of water being produced on that land is the same with or without a third dam. The greater likelihood should the city need increased water, would be to draw it from the Potomac River.

Of additional note is that the concern of potential development, even of three homes on the outparcel, has been acknowledged by the Conservancy and subsequently removed from the proposal; there would be no development whatsoever on the land.

Before the votes are cast on March 1, I encourage citizens to take an objective look at the proposal before the city, available on the city website at ci.cumberland.md.us and offer comments, questions, and concerns in writing to the council and myself.

We are interested in hearing from citizens and in making the right decision with all possible input and information. Your elected representatives will cast votes based upon sound judgment and a clear conscience.

I will not ignore my background in natural resources or compromise my belief in protecting nature’s wonders, nor will I ignore the long term implications of this decision. I hope that in the final remaining days before the vote, citizens will continue to provide input.

Brian K. Grim
Mayor of Cumberland