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Township lacks money to expand wetlands preserve

September 27, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA. - Washington Township, Pa., has less than 2 percent of the $150,000 in donations needed to expand Happel's Meadow Wetlands Preserve.

And settlement on the land is in 14 days.

The township supervisors said they will pull from general funds to write a check for the six acres off Pennersville Road in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. However, they had hoped to raise the money locally to match a state grant when spending a total $300,000.

Poor communication could be to blame for the dearth of donations, some residents said Wednesday.

"If the township supervisors wanted the assistance of the (nonprofit One Mountain Foundation), they should have contacted us and worked with us," Gary Muller said.

Muller is a board member of the organization, which says in its mission statement that it works to "improve the quality of life for citizens in the communities of Blue Ridge Summit, Cascade, Fountain Dale and Sabillasville."

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Muller said leaders with the One Mountain Foundation did not know how to transfer money to the township within the perimeters of their tax status.

"There are a lot of ramifications of what can we and should we do that should have been worked out a year ago," said Muller, who noted he spoke for himself and not the board.

Instead, fundraising fell on the shoulders of a handful of residents.

"You have to have a (nonprofit status) if you're going into the community to raise $150,000. That's not car wash money," Muller said.

Supervisor C. Stewart McCleaf said the supervisors did not want to meddle in the grassroots fundraising effort.

The land being purchased by the township from Kylea & Associates was planned for new houses.

It abuts the 72-acre Happel's Meadow Wetlands Preserve. The meadow naturally filters water and is the habitat for various plants, birds and animals.

Approximately $1,700 in donations had arrived at the township offices by Wednesday evening.

Township Manager Mike Christopher said, "$31,000 is pledged. I haven't received any of that cash."

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