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Community Conversation Will Focus on Future of Musser Gap Property

by on March 28, 2019 11:05 AM

At community conversation tonight, the public can learn more about, and provide their thoughts on, next steps for conserving land between Whitehall Road in Ferguson Township and Rothrock Forest at Musser Gap.

The meeting, hosted by Penn State and ClearWater Conservancy, is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m.  at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County, 780 Waupelani Drive.

It will be a follow-up to a Feb. 7 community discussion about the project to conserve a 365-acre, university owned tract referred to as the Musser Gap to Valleylands (MG2V). The property includes the Musser Gap Greenway recreational trail, developed earlier this decade by Penn State and ClearWater to connect Rothrock to the planned Whitehall Road Regional Park.

Penn State is partnering with ClearWater Conservancy to get public input. An online survey also was made available to residents in January.

“The thoughtful input from our community has been key in shaping what conservation looks like on Penn State’s Musser Gap to Valleylands property," Deb Nardone, executive director of ClearWater Conservancy, said in a news release. "We are so appreciative to have an informed and engaged public to work with the students and guide this important vision for our future.”

Thursday's meeting will include a brief overview by a student team that has been studying the site and developing management ideas. That team of undergraduate and graduate landscape architecture students will share five preliminary alternate land-use scenarios, and participants will be able to offer their feedback during breakout sessions.

Attendees are asked to RSVP here and are encouraged to carpool, as parking at UUFCC may be limited. A third public meeting, which is expected to include Penn State President Eric Barron, is scheduled for April 18, with details still to come.

Barron announced in December a vision for the future of the area "to not only help protect the local water supply, plant and animal species, but also make it a place where people can enjoy nature, learn about the environment and be inspired."

The 365-acre Penn State property to be conserved is part of a larger original parcel from Whitehall Road to south of Route 45 that was acquired by Penn State in 1999 from the Mellon Family Trust and the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

 Since then, in addition to developing the Musser Gap Greenway, the university has sold 59 acres near Whitehall Road to State College Borough Water Authority (SCBWA) for restricted conservation; and 100 acres to Ferguson Township and the Centre Region Council of Governments for development of Whitehall Road Regional Park.

After years of legal battles over use of the land, Penn State also completed the sale of 45 acres to developer Toll Brothers, which is now building the luxury student housing The Cottages near Whitehall Road and Blue Course Drive. As a condition of the land sale, Toll Brothers is required provide necessary infrastructure for Whitehall Road Regional Park, which along with Rothrock Forest borders the property Penn State plans to conserve. 

The 365 acres to be conserved is are outlined in orange. See a larger version of this map here. Image courtesy Penn State.

Watch the Feb. 7 conversation in its entirety below, courtesy of C-NET:

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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