HB 2224 would radically reshape Pennsylvania law and, in doing so, make it easy to sell many of our parklands for quick cash. It doesn’t matter that a park has been used and loved for decades or even centuries. The bill would allow a local municipality or county to – depending on the arcane details of how a park was established –undo the park (and all the work that went into creating it) in a single vote.
The Pennsylvania Senate is poised to vote on the bill the week of 10/15. If it passes, it could move with lightning speed to the House for a final vote. Tell your Senator and Representative to oppose HB 2224. Contact them in their district officesTHIS WEEK.
- The severe and unintended consequences for parks far outweigh any benefit that the bill might deliver. The bill needs to go back to the drawing board.
- Parks should be protected from political whims, the settling of political scores and the temptation to sell for quick and easy cash. For centuries parks have had such protections with the law requiring fair and balanced court oversight to prevent the sale of parklands that still serve their public purpose. HB 2224 would toss out this centuries-old law.
- HB 2224 senselessly would set protections for parks based on how they were acquired, not on whether people use or enjoy them. People don’t care how their park was acquired; they do care about its future. Safeguards for parks shouldn’t depend on the method of acquisition decades or centuries ago.
- If there is need to make it easier for boroughs to sell non-parklands — lands not used by the public (for example, parking areas for road equipment or salt domes), park advocates support that. But any legislation should ensure continued protections for parklands, no matter how they came to be parkland.
- HB 2224 has never had a public hearing. It has never been subject to scrutiny by experts in public trust law or park history. The issues should receive such review and scrutiny before further action by the General Assembly.
- The Senate amended HB 2224 the week of October 1, making a few minor improvements but failing to adequately address the fundamental flaws and unintended consequences of the bill.
This letter was sent to PALTA partners on October 20, 2012
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Celebration is in order…HB2224 has been defeated!
Although HB 2224 was scheduled for a vote, the Pennsylvania Senate completed its last voting day of the 2011-2012 legislative session Wednesday night (10/17) without taking that vote. The Senate will not vote on bills during its lame duck session starting November 14.
HB 2224 would have radically changed PA law. Local parks that weren’t acquired in particular ways would have lost long-standing protections under the law, making them vulnerable to political whims and quick sale for easy cash. Park safeguards would have depended on the method of acquisition decades or centuries ago.
Our success in stopping HB 2224 is a testimony to the phenomenal outreach that you all made to your legislators. Thank you all so very much.
Please take a few minutes today to WRITE A THANK YOU LETTER OR MAKE A THANK YOU CALL (even better, do both) TO YOUR LEGISLATORS AND THEIR AIDES who expressed concern about the potential for HB 2224 to harm our parks. They need to hear from you that their efforts or willingness to put the brakes on HB 2224 is appreciated.
If bill proponents still wish to see legislation enacted, they will have to start by introducing a new bill in 2013. PALTA will make sure that park supporters and conservationists are properly informed and engaged in the new legislative process from the beginning.
Again, thank you everyone for each of your individual parts in protecting our local parks.
Andy Loza, Executive Director
Pennsylvania Land Trust Association