State House passes bill that would allow land near Pleasant Gap Fish Hatchery to be auctioned

The state Fish and Boat Commission is one step closer to being able to auction 3.59 acres of land near the Pleasant Gap Fish Hatchery.

The state House of Representatives passed the bill this week and now it must go to the state Senate before Gov. Tom Corbett can sign it into law, state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Lock Haven, said Thursday.

The land, which was used to house hatchery managers, has become obsolete because advances in technology have allowed them to live off-site. Hanna said this option allows for possible reuse for the property from a public or private group.

“Any time we can look at state-owned property and determine it’s no longer needed for its original purpose, I’m all for trying to repurpose it,” he said.

The property was originally acquired through the Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act of 1964, so the General Assembly must pass this legislation to allow it to be used for a different purpose. It is located across the street from the fish hatchery tanks.

It was last appraised at about $170,000, but the legislators are expecting it to sell for less because there might be some restrictions on the deed. Hanna said the deed restrictions would be used to protect the hatchery’s interest.

Money from the sale will go back into the Fish and Boat Commission’s budget to acquire other properties or work on other projects.

State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, said reusing the property is a good idea, but that he wants to make sure the project is made available to everyone that has an interest in its purchase.

“Hopefully when we do that we do it right, that we put it out so that everybody has an opportunity to bid on it,” he said.

Hanna said he believes the property will be made available to everyone. The commission had an opportunity to apply for an interagency transfer, but it chose the public route instead.

If the bill passes the Senate and is signed, Hanna expects the land to be made available later this year, but no specific timetable has been established.

Kerry Benninghoff, a sponsor of the bill, did not return a call for comment Thursday.