More talks set to discuss Deer Lakes drilling plan

County council will gather four times to discuss Deer Lakes

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The chairman of Allegheny County's parks committee Wednesday outlined the tentative schedule for discussions of the drilling plan beneath Deer Lakes Park.

Members of county council are considering an ordinance that authorizes the county to lease its gas and oil rights beneath the 1,180-acre park in West Deer and Frazer. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald unveiled the proposed lease last month, which calls for the county to enter a nonsurface lease with Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley.

Mr. Fitzgerald held a public, informational meeting about the proposal at Deer Lakes High School last week. County residents have attended council meetings for months, and on Tuesday nearly 60 people spoke about the issue at a regular meeting of the county council.

Members of the public will have another chance to speak during county council's public hearing on the gas drilling plan at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Gold Room of the Allegheny County Courthouse, Downtown, said Nicholas Futules, D-Oakmont and chairman of the parks committee.

County council will then hold three committee meetings to address specific issues about the plan. Members of the public will be able to attend but will not be able to speak at those meetings.

Mr. Futules said he will ask council's 14 other members for their input on what topics they want to hear more about, such as geology issues or public health. He said he will arrange speakers for the meeting, which he described as question-and-answer sessions for council members.

Environmental and safety factors will be discussed at the meeting next Wednesday. Legal questions about the lease will be discussed April 23. Economic factors will be the topic of the April 30 meeting.

All meetings will start at 5 p.m.

The exact location of the meetings has not yet been set, but they will be in either Conference Room 1 on the first floor of the Allegheny County Courthouse, or the Gold Room on the fourth floor, depending on availability.

Mr. Futules encouraged people unable to attend any of the meetings to email or mail council members. Contact information for County Council can be found on the council's Web page of the county website.

Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707.

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