SANDY LAKE Without asbestos, site will conserve

Conservation easement will permanently protect the lake from encroachment.
STONEBORO, Pa.-- The cleanup of an asbestos dump adjacent to Sandy Lake has led to the creation of a 32-acre conservation site that will prevent future development.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Sandy Creek Conservancy and Lakeside Park Co. (owner of the 150-acre lake in northeastern Mercer County) will outline the project Friday.
The state spent $1 million to haul away 15,000 tons of contaminated waste from a half-acre pile left along state Route 845 when Franklin Manufacturing Co., which used asbestos in the manufacture of howitzer barrel liners and railroad car brake shoes, went out of business in 1923.
Asbestos has been linked to respiratory disease and cancer.
The pile caused no problem for decades, but the potential for asbestos exposure rose in recent years as the number of off-road vehicles and other trespassers increased on the site, disturbing the pile, the state said.
Cleanup costs: The land is owned by Lakeside Park Co. but, because the company was considering selling the lake to the Sandy Creek Conservancy, the state didn't pressure Lakeside to pay for the cleanup.
The fault lies with Franklin Manufacturing but, because it was out of business, the state tapped its hazardous Sites Cleanup Act funds to pay the bill, a DEP spokesman said at the time.
However, the conservancy's plans to buy the lake for $2.1 million fell through when it was unable to raise the money before the expiration of the sales agreement last October, and Lakeside decided to retain ownership.
Conservation agreement: That left the state looking at Lakeside as a responsible party for the cleanup but, instead of sending the company a bill, the state worked out a conservation easement that will set aside a 32-acre parcel of land, including six or seven acres of the lake itself, in a permanent wildlife habitat and forested wetland.
The easement will be held by the conservancy and will protect the future health of Sandy Lake by prohibiting any development activity that would disrupt the natural ecological functioning of the land.
Lakeside will retain ownership of the property but will give up its development rights, estimated to be worth $400,000, to the site.