Currently the Berks County Commissioners and the community are awaiting a response from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission on a decision that will decide if access to Kaercher Creek Park, in Windsor Township, will remain as is or will be more closed off on or before April 30.
Commissioners voted to terminate what has been a verbal lease agreement since December 31, 2012 with the FBC, which owns the property, on Thursday March 27.
'We want indemnification in the new 20 year lease,' said Christian Leinbach, Berks County Commissioner. 'That means that since we do not own the property we would not be responsible for any pre-existing environmental issues. If the county would have to pay for future clean ups, that money would come from the taxpayers. Because we do not own the property that kind of liability makes no sense.'
In the fall of 203, the Environmental Protection Agency identified a wooded are in the park as a duping site of battery casings and called for a cleanup. The EPA wanted to involve the county as a party to pay for part of the cleanup. This area is currently fenced off. Around the same time is when a verbal agreement on a long term lease was reached between the county and the FBC. The cleanup raised some concerns which is why the county would like indemnification before making a deal.
Last week FBC notified the county that it would not indemnify the county which resulted in the signing of a letter to formally terminate the lease from the county that is effective April 30 of this year.
'What will be closed is up to FBC,' said Leinbach. 'It is our understanding that the main park will be closed and that only the boat ramp and lake will be accessible.'
Many in the community have expressed concern and are upset about the possibility of the park being closed including Leinbach.
'My family and I have been visiting Kaercher Creek Park for many years and love it. Our church has its Sunday School picnic there each year,' said Leinbach. 'This park is a gem in northern Berks County. What we did [March 27] is not intended to end the park, it is intended to save it.'
Kaercher Creek is the only county park that is not owned by the county. Right now the decision is in the hands of the FBC. Leinbach said that the county would sign a lease immediately if the FBC provides indemnification.
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