Once again Rider Park is in jeopardy. The First Community Foundation of Pennsylvania is failing in their obligation to provide maintenance and security for the park. It appears all that they are concerned with is the $2.6 million in the Trust Fund that was received from leasing the park to the gas company. The lease is now a non-evasive lease but the first lease they tried to slide through behind the public's back was for wells to be on Rider Park. If it were not for Ron Beach alerting the public that there probably would be wells on the Rider Park today.
Volunteers have always been the backbone of the Rider Park. Decision makers at the Foundation have stated that the volunteers are a liability. Most organizations value their volunteers and consider them the assets. The three main volunteers of Rider Park put in an average of 60 hours per week. Ron alone put a minimum of 35 hours weekly. He took care of security, mowing, and helped out with the work list with the Park Manager. Volunteers regularly used their own tools and money when funds were not available for items like wildflowers and bird food.
Money from the non-invasive lease, the $2.6 million, went into a Trust Fund, however the royalties from the lease go into the First Community Foundation Partnerships general fund to be used for charitable giving. It appears that Rider Park is just a vessel to make money. My understanding was Rider Park was left to the public to be used as a place to enjoy nature.
Isn't it funny how the Board twisted the Trust around to suit their needs. You would think after they got the money they would at least take proper care of the park.
Now, without security, some youths find it a great place for beer parties and camping, leaving all types of trash behind. They vandalize signs and leave the park a mess. There was evidence of hunting on the park in hunting season. There are safety issues that need addressed. I was told that the Board was "somewhat" concerned and if safety was an issue the park would be closed.
It's time for the Foundation to put the Trust in the hands of a Board or another organization that will take care of the park as it was intended, along with the Trust Fund, and let the public have the Park back. Let the Foundation keep their royalties and allow the public to have Rider Park as it was intended. Let's hear thoughts from Rider Park users. Let's ensure the future of Rider Park as it was intended.
Harry "Skip" Stackhouse
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom