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Maintenance deal eyed for parks

February 22, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

MONT ALTO, Pa. -- Frustrated by damaged picnic tables, a lack of running water and what they perceive as an unwelcoming entrance, officials from the Borough of Mont Alto and neighboring Quincy Township have started negotiations on a maintenance agreement for the oldest state park.

They hope to be given the authority to make improvements at the 23-acre Mont Alto State Park, as well as the lesser-known Chestnut Springs park nearby.

"There's a lot of history with the Mont Alto and Quincy residents over the past 50, 70 years," state Rep. Todd Rock said, talking about dances and events held at Mont Alto State Park, which opened in 1902.

Rock, R-Franklin, is a lifelong resident of Mont Alto who visited the park often in his childhood. He's watched the park deteriorate for years and knew local boards were interested in taking over much of the upkeep.

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"I thought now that I'm in office, I could make this come together," Rock said.

Rock said his district office manager, John Esser, contacted affected state agencies and organized an early February meeting to set up parameters of an agreement. Esser is also Mont Alto's mayor.

All elected officials in Mont Alto and Quincy Township will soon be asked whether they support some sort of lease, Rock said.

Also, the Mont Alto Historical Society is being asked whether it wants to participate in the planning.

Mont Alto Councilman Dennis Monn said he wants to see the parking lot rehabilitated. He also thinks a relatively easy connection could carry borough water to the park.

State officials provided an agreement template at the meeting, Monn said.

"We wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel on that," he said, adding it's too early to determine how much the efforts would cost Mont Alto and Quincy Township a year.

Esser often takes his grandchildren to the park.

"There's hardly anybody there," he said.

The mayor said his focus will be making the facilities safer and better suited to families.

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