COG OKs resolution to modify park loan

The Centre Region Council of Governments General Forum at its meeting Monday adopted a resolution asking the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority to modify the regional parks loan for a fifth time.

The parks and rec authority entered into a $7.6 million loan with Fulton Bank in 2011. The loan was taken out to fund Oak Hall and Whitehall Road regional parks projects.

The first phase of the Oak Hall Regional Park is complete, and the remaining $4.8 million in borrowed money is for the first phase of the Whitehall Road park.

According to the terms of the loan, the funds were to be used by June 1, but the modification extends that deadline to June 2020.

Katherine Watt, of State College, spoke during public comment on the loan modification, saying that the process has been a shutdown of open dialogue and a “travesty of representational democratic process.”

Laura Dininni, Ferguson Township supervisor, said she took issue with the fact that discussion was limited to the loan modification only and not other options.

A joint meeting was held May 11 between the COG finance and parks capital committees and the park authority. Those in attendance discussed approving the loan modifications or ending the loan and undertaking a new loan in the future when major outstanding issues are resolved.

Among the outstanding issues is the Toll Brothers development, which has been hotly contested.

On Wednesday, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania vacated a Centre County Court of Common Pleas judge’s order that Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors “committed an error of law” in approving the Toll Brothers’ Cottages at State College.

The proposed 264-unit development, which would neighbor the Whitehall Road Regional Park, was opposed by residents concerned about the potential for stormwater and construction runoff to threaten nearby Harter-Thomas Wellfields.

The Commonwealth Court’s filing stated: “Objectors did not allege that the Final PRD Plan deviated from the Tentative Plan in their Notice of Appeal and, as a result, they failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted.”

Other terms of the loan modification include the fixed interest rate being reduced from 2.8 to 2.59 percent through 2022; the authority drawing $167,798 on the loan and placing the proceeds in a deposit account at Fulton Bank; and a loan modification of $2,500 due to Fulton Bank.

The action by the General Forum came with the stipulation that if construction contracts are not executed within a year than the authority will discuss the project with the General Forum before going forward.