Bill Bower: Guest Column: DOES TROY NEED ANOTHER PARKING LOT?
Recently, I read in the Farmer's Friend newspaper that Pennsylvania's Agricultural Land Preservation Board protected nearly 1,500 acres on 18 farms in 12 counties from development through the state's farmland preservation program.
Since the program began in 1968, state, county and local governments have preserved 473,094 acres on 4,403 farms in 57 counties for future agricultural production.
When I moved to Troy in 1969 I bought a house on Redington Avenue across from the sale barn. Every Wednesday the town of Troy would be bustling, with farmers, who were bringing their livestock into town, and their wives that came along to do their shopping.
The sale barn, which was built circa 1920, had been very important to the town of Troy. The money spent by the farmers was a weekly shot in the arm to the local merchants and the town thrived, with automobile dealerships, barber shops, hardware stores and even a soda fountain in the pharmacy. Trappers brought their pelts to the sale barn because a fur buyer was always on hand to buy them.
With farms declining in number, the sale barn's business slowed down and eventually closed its doors. Wednesdays no longer took on a fair atmosphere.
Finally, the sale barn was sold to Mr. Andrus, who tried to continue with the history of the sale barn; however, his health gave out and the sale barn was sold again. Paint ball events were held in the building but if I remember correctly someone got hurt and that ended the paint ball. Later, a farmer's market was held in the building but this too did not work out.
Then, along came natural gas, with the water needed for fracking purchased from the Troy Borough, who had their backup well located on the edge of the sale barn's parking lot. However, the borough had a problem - a right-of-way was needed for the trucks to get to the water. The borough resolved that issue by buying the Shucker home on Canton Street and also the sale barn. The house was torn down, with a parking lot taking its place. When the borough bought the sale barn, to get the right-of way, it was said that they had no intention of tearing down the sale barn. The borough had been willing to sell the water and they did, enough that the surcharge was removed from our water bills. However, today, the gas companies are not using as much water, and borough residents recently received a letter stating that the surcharge is to be reinstated.
My complaint is not about the surcharge on the water bill, my complaint is about the borough now considering the tearing down of the sale barn. Although not maintained in recent years, the building is still in good shape because of a metal roof put on before being purchased by the borough. We all know that the most important part of a building is its roof, and as long as the roof doesn't leak, the building will stand, that is unless the borough has its way.
After the Shucker home was torn down by the borough, to be replaced with a parking lot, I found out that this home had been the oldest home in Troy, and the Shucker family has the original land grant from Philadelphia.
Do we really need another parking lot? Does paying to have a building razed, which was purchased with our money only a few years ago, seem a reasonable solution. The easiest way to justify tearing a building down is that a building's condition has deteriorated to a point where it will be too expensive to repair.
Hopefully, the good people of Troy, Canton and surrounding areas will either contact the borough and let their feelings be known or go to the next Troy Borough Council meeting and voice their opinions
Agriculture is the cornerstone of Pennsylvania's economy and a way of life for over 62,000 families within the state. If the state is trying to preserve farm land, surely the little Borough of Troy can save a building that meant so much to farmers in our area.
To watch a video about Troy, go to http://vimeo.com/65199360.
Bill Bower is a long-time resident of Troy.