Penn State’s sale of farmland on Whitehall Road to Toll Brothers presents risks to our water supply, but is still moving forward and will be a done deal in late December despite two years of protests with support from thousands of residents. For all the hyperbole that PSU cares about our community and strives for sustainability, profit is paramount. After several meetings this summer, Toll Brothers researched a PSU-owned parcel for their project and attempted to negotiate a “land swap” to purchase a PSU-owned parcel on West College Avenue as an alternative to building on our watershed on Whitehall.
During these meetings, PSU voiced no objections and stated in an email to me that they had no plans for the West College parcel. Yet, Toll Brothers’ offer to purchase the parcel was met with stonewalling by PSU with no explanation. The West College location is far less risky to our water supply and would place student housing much closer to campus. I naively believed that PSU would act as a partner to the community in ensuring responsible growth, would ensure protection of our water supply, and as a land-grant university should be committed to preservation of valuable farmland. I was wrong. PSU is touting its strategic plan of sustainability and good stewardship of natural resources, but refuses to live up to its own mission. The community’s desire to retain its small town atmosphere (a major reason alumni value State College) is being obliterated by the company town employer.
Kelli Hoover, Pennsylvania Furnace
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