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Chambersburg schools may get Letterkenny land

July 09, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - An agreement to transfer a section of Letterkenny Army Depot from the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority to the Chambersburg Area School District was approved unanimously Wednesday night by the school board.

Under the terms of the agreement, the authority would transfer the land to the district after the Department of the Army first deeds it over to the authority.

Known as District 4 under the reuse plan developed for excess property at the depot, the area is approximately 250 acres with about 130,000 square feet of residential and office buildings. Much of the land is wooded or open space.

The district hopes to transform the property into an agricultural and environmental education center. The Army and the authority have yet to reach an agreement on when ownership of the land will change hands.

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The agreement, which the authority had already approved, does contain some protections for the district, according to district solicitor Jan Sulcove. The district can withdraw from the agreement if the Army does not, or cannot, clean up any environmental hazards to the district's satisfaction.

"We have a certain comfort level at this point the Army will clean up the property," Sulcove said.

After years of dumping solvents, degreasers and other chemicals at the depot, the entire depot has a groundwater contamination problem.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Byers said the Army is conducting testing at two sites in the district for possible soil pollution. At this point he said core samples up to 25 feet deep have failed to turn up anything.

If the district does not find the property suitable for any reason, Sulcove said it would revert to the authority.

Although the district would not have to pay for the property, it would be responsible for paying legal fees and other costs associated with the transfer.

The district had explored another means of acquiring the property through the U.S. Department of Education. Its application was rejected earlier this year, but district officials noted a transfer through the authority would have fewer conditions attached.

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