Sunday, May 9, 2010

Weekly Recorder: "Range Lease to Be Approved in Canonsburg"
Fri, May 7, 2010
By Amanda Gillooly

Canonsburg Council is expected to approve a lease with Range Resources Monday that will allow for non-surface extraction of gas at Falconi Fields on Cecil Street.
Borough manager Terry Hazlett said Canonsburg will receive an $1,800 per-acre signing bonus of sorts for use of the 24-acre parcel. That money will be released to the municipality within 90 days of the lease signing, he said.
Canonsburg will also receive a 16-percent royalty on any gas extracted. He said Range Resources indicated royalties could amount to up to $300 per acre each month. It wasn’t clear when extraction would begin.
Council earlier this year approved a similar lease with Range Resources for use of Town Park’s 52 acres for non-surface gas extraction.
But Councilman Rich Russo said that while proceeds from the Town Park lease were accounted for in the borough’s 2010 budget, money from this pending contract wasn’t.
"We always have unexpected expenses,” he said. “It’s nice having an unexpected revenue stream.”
Councilman A.J. Williams agreed.
“We are landlocked, and we have limited resources. This gives us another option to work with,” he said.
Both councilmen said that if the contract is approved, they hope at least a portion of the proceeds would go toward infrastructure needs.
Russo said the borough’s patching and paving has “been lean” because of budgetary constraints over the past couple years. Williams said the municipality’s secondary roads and alleys are in particular need of attention.
Hazlett said that if council approved the lease, he would recommend some of the proceeds be earmarked for reimbursement of costs incurred during February’s snow storms. He said nearly $110,000 was spent for overtime, salt and removal of downed trees.
“That’s almost 3 mills,” he said. “We have to account for that somehow.”
Councilman George Coleman said that while he supports the business relationship with Range Resources, he won’t vote yes until he is guaranteed that the extraction process will not disturb any of the current land, and that there will be no excessive noise at the sites.
And he said representatives from Range have assured him that those would not become issues. Russo added that the lease was carefully examined by both the borough’s solicitor and its engineer.
Coleman was adamant that his first concern was for the safety of the properties involved and the residents who live near them.
“I read what’s going on (with this sort of extraction process in other areas),” he said. “There are people who are tasting bad water and complaining about excessive noise.”
Canonsburg Council will hold its voting meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the borough building.

Amanda Gillooly is a freelance writer and can be reached at Weekly Recorder

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