Proposal for natural gas drilling under local park concerns residents

FRANKLIN PARK, Pa. — People living in one North Hills community were out in force Monday night to once again oppose plans to allow fracking along Big Sewickley Creek Road in Franklin Park.

This was a chance for residents to get more information on the plan and get a chance to speak their minds.

Linbrook Park comprises 80 acres of playing fields and walking trails, but it's also sitting on top of a valuable natural gas embedded in Marcellus shale.

"I was strongly opposed then, and I'm here tonight to reiterate that position," said Amanda Miller, a resident.

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More than 200 people came to the borough council meeting to voice their opinions about a plan to allow fracking in the earth deep beneath the park.

"The park is best used as a public utility and not a private venture," said Brenden Grzyb, a resident.

The well pad would be in Economy Borough, about a half-mile away from the park, and all the drilling would be done underground.

"The lease is a subsurface lease only. It does not grant Penn Energy any right or access to Linbrook Park whatsoever," a township official said.

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But those against the proposal worry about environmental impacts, especially on the underground water system.

"People may be concerned about drinking water. It is a reasonable concern. I, too, have a well. The simple truth is, water doesn't flow vertically upward 5,000 feet," said Robert McHale, a resident.

The proposal with Penn Energy would give the borough an up-front payment of $283,000 and an 18 percent royalty.

Hundreds of people showed up tonight to talk about the possibility of fracking under a local park. What do you think about this?

Posted by WPXI-TV Pittsburgh on Monday, January 14, 2019

If the borough doesn't take the offer, the company could just make deals with private property owners.

"I hope this council would respect people's wishes. There are different ways of raising money, so please let's not play with the environment," said Vikas Agarwal, a resident.

The council is expected to vote on Wednesday.