Proposal Drafted for the Creation of Recreation and Conservation Authority in Warren County

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The site of the Grunderville Landfill, which is set to permanently close in 2022.

WARREN, Pa. – With the Grunderville Landfill slated to reach permanent closure in 2022, Warren County Commissioner Jeff Eggleston is proposing the creation of a Recreation and Conservation Authority in Warren County.

“The goal of this proposal is to parlay it into something that is positive for the county,” Eggleston said during Tuesday’s Warren County Commissioners work session. “The concept of the Recreation and Conservation Authority (RCA) addresses a few things.”

The landfill has been in a state of ‘post-closure’ since 1992 and in 2017, Eggleston and County Planning Director Dan Glotz began the process of working with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Allegheny National Forest to close it permanently.

With that in mind, several items need to be addressed to secure the future of the site and to make the best use of the funds associated with it.

The initial duties of the RCA would be to sign and be responsible for the permit with the Allegheny National Forest for the Grunderville Landfill site, mowing of the Grunderville cap once every other year, manage the current recycling program which includes four sites in Warren County (Elk, Columbus, Eldred, and Cherry Grove Townships) and create and manage the endowment created by the closure fund, among others.

In terms of the endowment, Eggleston explained that the closure fund currently sits at $480,000.

“The goal for the endowment is to continue to support the county’s recycling initiatives and general conservation initiatives,” Eggleston said.

The recycling programs currently cost in the neighborhood of $22,000, Eggleston said.

“At the very least, I feel pretty confident that this money will allow the recycling programs to continue,” he said. “If we don’t do this, we would have to shut down all of the recycling centers.”

The closed sump with 6 inch well installed in the event there needs to be pumping from landfill in future (not likely but just in case).

Added Commissioner Tricia Durbin: “If we do continue the recycling program, I think it should be cost-neutral for the county.”

The other part of the proposal includes the hiring of a potential recreation director. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has a ‘Circuit Rider’ program that helps counties and other entities fund full-time recreation director positions, with the program being a four-year commitment.

“I’m very supportive of that and think we should pursue a recreation director,” Durbin said.

Added Eggleston: “I think it’s important to note that the recreation director position is outlined in every plan we’ve done for the last 20 years,” Eggleston said. “I also want to acknowledge that there’s nothing that says we have to keep the recycling program as is. The goal is to keep the funding intact and utilize it for something positive rather than get wasted just taking care of the landfill.

Eggleston outlined a similar proposal that was enacted in Cambria County, which focuses on greenways, trails, and things of that nature, and notes that this proposal could work similarly.

“There’s a lot of things that still need to be ironed out, this is just a start,” Eggleston explained.

Added Commissioner Ben Kafferlin: “I think we’re all on board with creating the authority, even if it’s just a shell organization.”

The process for generating the RCA would include drafting a resolution ordinance outlining the creation of the authority. A public hearing would be scheduled and advertised and at that meeting, the commissioners and community would deliberate on the authority and a vote would be taken. if approved, the county would then adopt the resolution and submit it to the Department of State for certification.

Once that process is completed, the authority would be able to begin conducting business. The authority would have to have a minimum of five board members with seven suggested.

“It’s not ready to come out of the oven yet,” Eggleston said. “There are still things to iron out.”