Pennsylvania's Donated and Dedicated Property Act guarantees that any attempt to sell public parks, open space, recreation land, hunting and fishing areas and conservation easements, as well as buildings owned by the public must be reviewed by the Orphans Courts, acting as overseers of the trustees (officials of political subdivisions). These Court proceedings allow the Attorney General to oppose such sales in the Orphans Court in the county where the lands are situated, acting on behalf of the taxpayers/owners of the land. These Court proceedings also allow taxpayers to file lawsuits to prevent their lands and parks from being sold by local officials for short-term economic gain.
HB 2224 proposes to remove such Court review for public parks and other public lands and buildings if they were purchased, putting discretion solely in the hands of elected local officials. This would allow the sale of parks, recreation lands, etc. purely for short term economic benefit, which is not allowed by current law. It would allow local officials who may have ties to interested developers to declare the parks "under-used" or "impracticable to maintain" and sell them from public ownership, with no Court oversight. They would be sold for private development and private gain.
HB 2224 creates loopholes in the law to allow for the sale of public parks in cases where dedications and deed restrictions may be incomplete or defective, despite clear intent to dedicate to public use. In such cases, again Courts would have no jurisdiction.
HB2224 is a thinly-veiled attempt to partially repeal the protections afforded public property by the Donated and Dedicated Property Act, and to facilitate the transfer of public parks and other public lands to private parties for private gain.
Anyone who uses public parks, public recreation, hunting or fishing areas, or believes in the preservation of open space and conservation easements should sign this petition.
Speak up now so future generations of Pennsylvanians will not be deprived of their parks and other public lands.