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Commissioners allocate funds for rec plan for landfill site

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton County officials are exploring potential recreation options for the site of the former Grunderville Landfill in Pleasant Township.

County officials are exploring potential recreation options for the site of the former Grunderville Landfill and Birdsall Edey Girl Scout camp.

Commissioner Jeff Eggleston asked the board for about $10,000 in Act 13 funds to use as matching funds to go after a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources planning grant.

He said the goal is to develop a “conceptual plan for the Grunderville Landfill and Girl Scout Camp at Birdsall Edey.”

Located in Pleasant Township, the sites have quick access to the Allegheny River along US 62.

The county is currently working in conjunction with the City of Warren on a recreation plan and Eggleston said this would be an amendment to that existing program.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry The dining hall at the former Birdsall Edey Girl Scout camp. Shuttered since 2010, the county has expressed interest in gaining control of the property for recreation purposes.

The result would be a plan that “could come up with various opportunities for recreation in that region.”

Eggleston said the landfill property would be transferred to the RDA and said having a plan in place might be the county’s “best chance” to convince federal officials to turn over the Girl Scout Camp as well.

In a report dated Oct. 12 regarding a “conceptual plan proposal for county park,” Mackin Engineers & Consultants, the consultant for the recreation plan, details the possibilities.

“The County does not own or operate any county parks at this time (with the exception of the North Warren Hike/Bike Trail) and feel that this property poses a unique opportunity to become the first county park,” the report states. “The 398-acre site is comprised of the 126-acre County landfill (currently owned by the Allegheny National Forest and ceased landfill operations in 1992) and the adjacent 272-acre former Girl Scout Birdsall-Edey Camp.”

A number of possibly options for the future are identified in that proposal — river access, an amphitheater, disc golf, redevelopment of the cabins, organized sport fields, walking routes, parking and restrooms, among other things.

“It’s a substantial area,” Eggleston said, “and we want to see it (utilized).”

The funds allocated Wednesday are to come from the county’s Act 13 funds, money raised by impact fees on oil and gas development.

He noted that the funds wouldn’t be expended if the grant is not awarded.

The commissioners approved the request unanimously.

Birdsall Edey was named for Sarah Birdsall Otis Edey, a suffragette and early Girl Scout advocate. The camp was initially a transient worker camp in the 1930s. Girl Scout camp was first held there in 1939 and the camp was closed about 10 years ago.

“We have started talking to the county about the future of the Grunderville Landfill Site, including a possible transfer,” ANF Bradford District Ranger Rich Hatfield told the Times Observer last month. “For Birdsall Edey, I showed Commissioner Eggleston the site to see what ideas were out there for future management. We have not discussed transferring this site to the county.

“I definitely won’t say it’s a non-starter,” he added, regarding Birdsall Edey. “For both of these sites, everything on the table. The historical considerations of Birdsall Edey make a transfer much more complex.”

He said they’re researching the steps involved in a possible transfer of the landfill location.

“For both of these sites, I look forward to continue working with the County and the public on ideas for future management,” Hatfield said.

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