Lancaster Co. Conservancy reaches deal to preserve Holtwood Park

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MARTIC TWP., Pa. - The Lancaster County Conservancy and Talen Energy have reached an agreement that will preserve Holtwood Park and the Kelly's Run trailhead.

Talen Energy will donate almost 200 acres to the conservancy as part of the agreement, a process that should be completed by the end of the year.

"We'd like the public to see this in a larger landscape about the amount of river hills that have been protected and this tract of land of almost 200 acres is really an exciting addition to that overall perspective," Philip Wenger, president and CEO of the Lancaster County Conservancy, said.

Talen closed the park and trailhead without warning earlier this year, drawing anger and frustration from hundreds of residents and hikers who used the trail and park facilities.

Under the agreement, the trailhead and much of the land will remain in the care of the conservancy.

"Kelly's Run is one of those exceptional walks that we have in Lancaster County and hikes that you can take where you can walk along a stream all the way from a hilltop down to the river and it's one of the very special places that people have," Wenger said.

The conservancy has offered the plot of land with the facilities of Holtwood Park, including a baseball field, a playground and picnic area, to Martic Township.

The park section will remain closed until the township decides how to proceed, and that could take awhile.

"There's a lot of things that would have to go into the mix to make it become a reality," Duane Sellers, chairman of Martic Township's Board of Supervisors said. "With our present budget and our present revenue stream we would have to seriously look at how we could get sustainable funding for the operation."

The township estimates the annual upkeep of the park at between $50,000 and $60,000, and finding that could prove difficult in a community that has no municipal property tax.

Martic Township plans to survey its residents on what to do about the park if and when the land transfer is successfully completed.

"We obviously want to feel the pulse of the residents; would they support it, would they not support it," Sellers said. "Is a park the way it was, is that something they still want to retain?"

The Lancaster County Conservancy has maintained the option of removing the park facilities and restoring the land back to its natural state if Martic Township declines the offer, Wenger said.

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