County stiffs Lower Alsace Township in cash-for-land deal

Tom "Sluggo" OrthWhen Reading was trying to keep Antietam Lake out of the hands of businessmen who might have turned into a dump, Lower Alsace Township ponied up $1.5 million to help the county buy the property from the city and turn it into a park. Lower Alsace was stuck between a lake and a hard place because while the property was located in the township, the city actually owned it. And if developers came in and built townhouses, the township would bear the brunt of the tax increases that would be necessary to pay for schools and other public services.

As part of the end-around strategy, the county was supposed to sign over a tract of land to Lower Alsace once called Victory Garden. But at a meeting last night, officials revealed the township is getting the bum's rush. Apparently, the agreement was only verbal, and with two of the commissioners, Judy Schwank and Tom Gajkewski, out of office, the fancy new board sees no urgency in fulfilling the bargain.

Curiously, the issue only came up after supervisor Chairman Tom Orth's wife, Linda, said residents who live near the property had complained that people have been dumping shrubs, trees and other yard waste at the site.

Yet, Tom the chairman said the township planned to use part of the property as a sort of dump,
a municipal compost heap for residents who don't have a place to dispose of their yard waste inside the township.

Orth said he'd take the matter up at a commissioners board meeting. If he gets rebuffed, I hope Mark Scott doesn't run into him late at night at some sports bar.