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1:40 p.m. Gentile says park deal done

January 6, 2011
Mark Law

STEUBENVILLE - Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile said Thursday at the commissioners' meeting the negotiations with the state over the transfer of Jefferson Lake State Park are complete and the county is awaiting the final paperwork.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources in 2009 announced it was allowing the 954-acre park to become a nature preserve. Commissioners have said they are interested in taking over the park and Gentile has been in negotiations with the state since.

Gentile was attempting to get the paperwork completed before the change in the state's administration on Monday, but that doesn't appear likely.

"I feel the negotiations are done. It is just a matter of getting the paperwork," Gentile said.

Drafts of the agreement between the state and county have been reviewed by Gentile and county Commissioner David Maple and the county prosecutor's office. Gentile said the agreement was rather basic but does include mineral rights to the park, which would be used to operate the park and make capital improvements.

Gentile believes the gas drilling rights alone could be work $2 million. He said selective timber harvesting, done in conjunction with the state's forestry division, could provide enough annual funding to operate the park.

See Friday's edition for more details.

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