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Library not possible in rec park, Gettysburg says

After taking what he called a “deep dive” into the legal possibilities of allowing the Gettysburg Library to relocate into the rec park, solicitor Harry Eastman reported on Monday evening that it was not possible.

Saying the rec park was specifically dedicated to outdoor recreation and playground use when it was created 63 years ago, Eastman said the state would not allow any part of the property to be converted into a space for a library. “The duty of this municipality is to continue hold the property in perpetuity as an outdoor recreation park,” he said.

The Gettysburg Library at its current location [Gettysburg Connection]

Borough Manager Charles Gable said people in the borough enjoyed having the library in its current location and that he thought the Adams County Library System would find advocates on the council to help them with a capital campaign to renovate the current space and find more parking spaces near the library. Gable said there were two lots within 800 feet of the library that could be used and that ADA parking access was already available at the building.

Gable said when the rec park was donated to the borough on August 13, 1958 the 48-acre property was explicitly designated for playground and recreational purposes. The property is owned by the borough and was leased to GARA in 2014 for 10 years, with an automatic renewal for another 10 years.

Gable said no changes were possible to the use of the rec park without the consent of a variety of agencies including the Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. Gable said the Land and Water Conservation Act also prohibited a change and that the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Act was also involved because of grants the borough had received from them for rec park updates. Gable said making any changes would require returning grant funds with interest and that the cost would be over $1 million.

Also problematic were provisions of the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution which is focused on conservation of public natural resources and the Donated or Dedicated Property Act which states that land may be used only for purposes only in which it was initially donated.

Gable concluded by saying the borough “lacks a legal required factual foundation to claim GARA as no longer a practical or public use for playground or recreational purposes.”

Other business

Main Street Gettysburg President Jill Sellers thanked the “From the Ground Up” crew for their work cleaning the streets on Monday mornings and said plans for the 2021 Christmas Festival are being developed.

Council member Judie Butterfield said she had received many calls for information about the shredding event to be held on August 20.

Suzanne Christianson was appointed to the Historical Area Review Board for a temporary term until August 2022, replacing Colleen Lingle.

Parking manager Becka Fissel said many people were using the parking app over the summer months and that parking revenues were up.

Saying the evening surpassed its expectations, Chief Glenny thanked those who worked on the National Night Out event that was held on August 9.

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Charles (Chuck) Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Owner, Publisher, and Editor in Chief. I would like to hear from you. Please contact me at cstangor@gettysburgconnection.org.

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Louise Arnold-Friend
Louise Arnold-Friend
2 years ago

While I wholeheartedly agree that a structure in built at the beginning of the last century is a poor home for a public library for a community this large, I’m glad to learn that internal redesign is an option. Having helped moved a 300K+ collection from one site to another, I know of the future headaches the ACPL will face endeavoring to continue vital community services while having the current home gutted and redesigned to be actually functional. Best wishes, but it’s important to keep the footprint downtown.

Steve Niebler
Steve Niebler
2 years ago

If the Rec Park is for “outdoor recreation” space, why & under what authority did the Borough build the Sterner Building?

Karen M Blake
Karen M Blake
2 years ago

Why did they take parking spaces away from the front of The Pub, and The Games Store. Seems as though it’s hard enough to get parking as it is, especially during tourist season.

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