Township Eminent Domain Action: Evans City Reservoir Property

News Release Date
05-23-2024
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The Jackson Township Board of Supervisors authorized a resolution at the Board of Supervisors Meeting on May 23, 2024, directing the Township Solicitor to file eminent domain of the parcels comprising the Evans City Reservoir property, located on SR 528, Lindsay Road, and consisting of approximately 132 acres, including an 18-acre lake and dam, formerly utilized as a reservoir for Evans City Borough and presently owned by Evans City Borough. 

In doing so, the Township aims to preserve the scenic property and lake for use by the public, including residents of both Evans City and Jackson Township, and to invest its resources in maintaining the dam and expanding needed recreational amenities within the Township and the region.

The properties and lake lie entirely within the corporate boundaries of Jackson Township and as such, the Township expressed both concern with the potential loss of the dam and lake as an asset as well as the unavailability of the asset for use and enjoyment by the general public. 

Recent inspection reports indicate that the dam requires ongoing maintenance, including the need to repair the draw-off valves and the draw-down sluice gate as well as a presently small leak in the outlet structure near its downstream end. 

Evans City’s Borough’s financial resources, as illustrated in a 2022 Strategic Management Planning Program Study, prepared for the Borough by their third-party consultants, illustrates that the Borough will have minimal resources for capital improvements to scale the necessary development of the property for public recreational purposes for the foreseeable future. 

Meanwhile, the property has and remains closed to the public with “no trespassing” signs posted in the vicinity of the property’s entrance. 

While the Township, as a neighboring municipality, recognizes the understandable value of the property as a perceived asset to Evans City, the Township believes that its application of eminent domain and development of the property will maintain and advance the value of the site for Evans City and Evans City residents. 

Ongoing royalties from the Borough’s gas well and subsurface rights of the property are not subject to the Township’s taking and do not conflict with the recreational development of the property.  Therefore, the Borough will continue to own those rights as an asset and revenue source. The balance of apparent financial benefits, including the sale of water and forestry, appears minimal in the long run, leaving the market value of the property as the most apparent asset. That asset remains with a property that currently serves no broader public purpose while requiring continued maintenance by the Borough.  Therefore, the Borough will realize compensation of $1,204,000, as the appraised market value of the property and its residents, along with Jackson Township residents, may enjoy the property as a public amenity.

The Township plans to make improvements necessary to allow for some public use of the park within 18-24 months.  The timeliness of the property’s acquisition also relates to the current planning process of an updated Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Plan which the Township is beginning to undertake.  The inclusion of the Evans City Reservoir Property is crucial to this planning process. In doing so, the Township commits to develop the Reservoir as a regional asset while furnishing the market value of over one million dollars to Evans City Borough as an investment in its infrastructure.