Millcreek Township Supervisors voted unanimously to grant $750,000 to the Asbury Woods Partnership (AWP) at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.
The grant comes after AWP’s request in May for $700,000 to $1 million from the township, in order to purchase two parcels of land from the Millcreek School District.
The district is selling two parcels, the Asbury Woods Nature Center and Brown’s Farm, for $1.5 million, an agreement that was initially made more than a year ago in 2015.
At that time, the AWP planned to use a majority of state funding for the deal but, due to Pennsylvania’s budget impasse, state funds got tied up and the AWP had to seek funding elsewhere.
Supervisor John Groh said Tuesday he was initially opposed to the idea of the township giving money to the AWP, but after hearing from residents about how much they value Asbury Woods, he changed his mind.
Groh said he voted in support to “help save this property from development.”
Also as part of the $750,000 grant comes several assurances that enable the township to have some influence and say in the future of the land the AWP will be buying.
“We now have a seat on the (Partnership’s) Board of Directors there, we are going to have voices making sure that the money is spent wisely – any improvements that are done, any loans that they may go after,” said Groh.
In addition, Supervisor Brian McGrath listed several other assurances as well as some deed restrictions included in the deal. Some highlights are below:
- Deed restrictions – no future developments; AWP parcels must remain a park and have educational purposes; accessible to public
- None of $750k should be used for operating expenses
- If parcels were ever sold, township gets money back and interest (3% a year)
- Township wants option to purchase properties should Asbury ever go out of business
“We need to step up and take the appropriate actions,” said McGrath, adding that the agreement before the supervisors “protects the taxpayers and their best interest.”
The Asbury Woods Partnership is set to close their $1.5 million deal with the district June 30.
Asbury Woods Partnership agreement click here.