New Castle News

Wilmington

March 28, 2012

Wilmington board offers views on drill lease

NEW CASTLE — Members of the Wilmington school board expressed their positions about whether to lease district land for Marcellus/Utica shale drilling.

The consensus was to proceed with pursuing a lease of portions of the district’s 73.35 acres with one of two drilling companies acquiring rights in the county — Shell Oil and Hilcorp Energy.

Here is what they said:

•Robert Curry — Said he would like to read an actual lease before making a decision, instead of just voting on the proposal. He also expressed concern about the potential change in property values because of drilling.

•Dr. David Swerdlow — “I found a lot of what the (visitors to the meeting) are saying to be compelling. Our first responsibility at the school is safety. I believe this is a safety issue and that safety trumps everything else.”

•Peggy Foht — “I have a lot of reservations.” She pointed out leasing is going on all over in the community where she lives. “Do I want this? Absolutely not, but it’s happening, whether we enter a lease a not.”

•Dr. Bo DiMuccio — The district has an obligation to consider the financial aspect. “We’re talking about $211,000 up front. That’s 10 percent of our budget and you’re asking us to leave that on the table. That would be irresponsible to not even consider that.”

•Carol Harris — If the governor had not cut the school districts’ budgets, “we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” She said she is willing to consider a lease but the district should put all of the safeguards into it that it can.

•Kathryn Riley — Told visitors all their impassioned cries about the potential health threats put her “on the defensive. I feel that we are being dealt some scare tactics. My thought is ... we were put in this position whether we want to be or not. We still have to do it. We should continue the process.”

•William Taylor — “I wish we could say that if it came down to our decision, all of this would go away. But these kids are going to be living with this regardless of what we do.” He was referring to concerns of parents about the safety of children walking to school with heavy truck traffic.

•Lynn Foltz — Said she and her husband had signed a gas lease on their property, but acknowledged that for the district, “there are definite risks. I believe we need to protect the district at all costs. We are in uncharted territory.”

(Email: dmorris@ncnewsonline.com)

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