BELLEFONTE — Bellefonte Borough has purchased the former Subway building and property with plans to use the space to beautify the entrance to Talleyrand Park and Big Spring.
The Subway building, at 219 S. Water St., has been vacant since the business closed last year — a victim of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The owner of the building approached the borough about purchasing the building, and on Dec. 19 borough supervisors passed a resolution to allow borough Manager Ralph Stewart to sign paperwork for a $120,000 loan with First National Bank to purchase the property.
The property is next to a small parking lot for Talleyrand Park and Big Spring, the covered spring that produces 15 million gallons of natural ground water per day.
The borough is not using tax funds for the purchase of the property, and instead is using proceeds from the borough water sales to the former Coca-Cola bottling plant. The plant was recently purchased by Niagara Bottling for $5,593,000.
“That revenue is not part of the normal water system,” Stewart said. “It has always been set aside, since 1998, when the agreement was created so the water goes in through a pipeline with the company as the original agreement was made, so it is completely separate from the water system and water system operations.”
“We have had a longterm goal of beautifying the entrance to the Big Spring and that end of Talleyrand Park,” Stewart told The Gazette. “In addition to bringing people into the park area, we want to make Big Spring a tourist attraction with the construction of an attractive cover.”
Big Spring has been covered for approximately 20 years with a state DEP-permitted floating cover. The floating cover enabled Bellefonte Borough Authority to meet all state Department of Environmental Protection requirements related to keeping the unfiltered spring water free of contaminants. However, the aesthetics of the cover have never been acceptable to the Bellefonte community.
Before anything is done with the property, the community will be asked to provide input, Stewart said.
“Now that closing on the property is completed, we will be looking at how best to incorporate this property into these long-term plans,” Stewart said. “As preliminary plans are developed, there will be opportunity for citizen/stakeholder input.”
Vincent Corso is the senior staff writer for The Centre County Gazette.