WILKES-BARRE – The city of Nanticoke can begin working to create the Greater Nanticoke Area Recreation Park, after it gained possession of needed land through eminent domain proceedings in Luzerne County Court.
The planned project, which began seven years ago, will include sports fields, basketball courts, natural and camping areas, walking and biking paths and a boat launch and fishing area on the Susquehanna River.
The declaration of taking proceedings began in April when the city's solicitor, William Finnegan, filed court papers to acquire 90 parcels of land that will ultimately become part of the 135-acre park.
Finnegan said no landowners objected to declarations of taking within a required 30-day notice period, and he recently asked a county judge to approve a $3,000 payment to landowners the city knows of.
The 90 parcels are located directly off Lower Broadway Street in Nanticoke across from the Weis Markets grocery store, and include some of a parking lot currently being used by Luzerne County Community College.
Finnegan has said the land was used to house Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers after the Agnes Flood in 1972, and after the flood the lots were sold off or people left, creating title problems.
In court documents filed recently, Judge Richard Hughes approved a requested $3,000 payment to landowners, most of which – nearly $2,500 – will be paid to Susquehanna Collieries and the Susquehanna Coal Company, which owned 9.26 acres of the land.
At least 19 other former landowners will receive $5 for their small parcels, including the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority for a right of way and the Greater Nanticoke Area School District.
Finnegan said the $3,000 payment was determined after an appraisal of the land.
City administrator Pamela Heard said the park is a "work in progress" and the city will not apply for additional grants until work funded by a grant received in December is complete.
The city obtained a $60,400 grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources that will be used for the construction of a pavilion, parking area improvements, pedestrian walkway, observation area, rain garden, installation of site amenities, removal of invasive species, handicap access, landscaping and signage.
Work on the land the city had already owned is expected to begin sometime in 2013.
The entire project is expected to cost around $1.1 million, according to the city.
Sheena Delazio, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7235.