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Photo by ccbarr | flickr

Photo by ccbarr | flickr

Though it wasn’t on the scheduled agenda, the Urban Redevelopment Authority board spent a significant portion of its June meeting congratulating all involved before voting to accept the gift of 660 acres of land in Hays that will become the city’s largest park.

When he bought the former J & L. Steel property in 2003, Beaver County businessman Chuck Betters had originally planned to strip mine the property for its coal, then build a race track and casino on the reclaimed land, alternatively he planned housing.  But the site, with its highly wooded, uneven terrain, its three streams, a waterfall, was unsuited for any of those.

And now that the authority board has voted to pay $5 million to accept this gift, none of that coal or any other mineral resources will ever be extract from the site. It will be a park.

“People use it as a park now, and those (environmental covenants) will be in perpetuity,” said board chair Kevin Acklin, who negotiated the purchase of the property for far less than the mineral rights alone.

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