June 6, 2012
Jonathan E. Butterfield, of Williamsport law firm Murphy, Butterfield and Holland, said he could not reveal the details of the proposal until park residents have been notified.
"They have a proposal that is an improvement from what the company initially offered," Butterfield said Tuesday afternoon.
Aqua-PVR bought the 37-unit mobile home park in late February. The company plans to build a facility that will withdraw up to 3 million gallons of water per day from the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and transport that water by pipeline to natural gas drilling operations to the north.
Residents' leases were terminated and they were given until June 1 to vacate the park. The company offered a moving incentive of $2,500 to residents who moved out of the park by the June 1 deadline.
As of Tuesday morning, six families remained at the 37-unit park. Three of those families said they will not leave because they cannot afford to.
Two other attorneys representing park residents met Tuesday with company attorneys in an attempt to negotiate better terms for the residents.
Butterfield said local attorney John Person, of North Penn Legal Services, and Kevin Quisenberry, of Pittsburgh-based Community Justice Project, were, as of Tuesday afternoon, on their way back from Bryn Mawr, where Aqua America, the developer's parent company, is headquartered.
Butterfield said Person called him to tell him of the new proposal.
Although he would not reveal details about the offer, Butterfield did have news for hold-out residents and the anti-gas industry activists who are camping out at the park in support of them.
"There is no imminent risk of anybody being booted (out of the park)," he said.
Donna P. Alston, Aqua America director of communications, said she could provide no details regarding the talks.
"We met with attorneys today, but no details of that meeting, or any future plans, are being made public at this time," Alston said via an email.
About 30 activists, some of whom manned makeshift barricades designed to keep company construction crews from entering the park, were on hand at the park on Tuesday morning. Some said they hoped to stay on long enough to see the company make a proposal residents could live with.
Many of those interviewed said they were motivated by their fears about the natural gas industry.
"I've been very concerned about the gas industry in our state for years," said Jono - no last name given - of Lancaster. "I read about (the mobile home park) online and my heart just sank. I decided to come.
"I've got a job to go back to, but we're doing what we can to keep the momentum going," he said.
Jonathan Sidney, of Youngstown, Ohio, said he came to the park "because of the attempted displacement of the Riverdale community," but also because of his concerns about the impact of large corporations, particularly those in the natural gas industry, on local communities.
Banners and signs hung from gutted trailers at the park. One trailer was marked with a red cross. According to Jono, two paramedics who arrived at the park cleaned the trailer and set up an infirmary in it.
Others manned crews that worked cleaning up debris, spreading mulch about the park or doing other projects.
Resident Kevin June said he remains optimistic about how the situation will end.
"I think there is going to be a positive outcome, one way or the other," June said.