County Commissioners unveil new 411-acre Detweiler Park in Middle
Visitors can explore more than nine miles of
trails through various habitats
HARRISBURG, PA (February
8, 2017) – The Dauphin County Commissioners today thanked the Detweiler family
for their generosity in deeding 411 acres
in Middle Paxton Township for what will be the largest of the county’s eight
parks and benefit generations to come.
The family, which once operated
the Harrisburg Telegraph, WHP and Stackpole Books, has owned the land for four
generations and had long hoped it could be
preserved. Late last year Susan Detweiler, Frances Detweiler Granatino and Esme Detweiler Freedman approved
the combined gift and sale to the county.
“This board wants to thank
the Detweiler family for providing the
county with this wonderful property that
is a true outdoor treasure, featuring
fields, forests and fishing,’’ said board
Chairman Jeff Haste. “As an avid outdoor enthusiast,
I’m excited at the recreational opportunities Detweiler Park will provide our
residents now and in the future.’’
“My family has lived there
for almost a century and it’s a beautiful piece of land that my grandfather and
great grandfather wanted to preserve,’’ said John Elder Stackpole Detweiler,
Susan Detweiler’s son. “They were big believers in the State of Pennsylvania
and they would be very happy to know this land is going to the people of
The Detweilers donated
$897,500 of the land’s $2.4 million purchase price to the county. The remaining
money came from an $887,500 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources and $607,500 in county gaming grant money from Hollywood Casino at Penn National.
The property, which includes
a farmhouse, nine miles of walking trails and a fish hatchery maintained by the
Dauphin County Anglers and Conservation Club on Clark’s Creek, which borders
the park’s western edge. This summer, temporary parking and an entrance to the
trails will be available at the Dauphin
County Conservation District’s headquarters, 1415 Peters Mountain Road.
Public meetings will be held
this year to get input for a master plan on what features should be developed,
including a new parking area, fields for sporting events and potentially
converting the farmhouse to a nature center.
“As Dauphin County
continues to grow, it is vital that we take opportunities like this to preserve
our open space,’’ said Commissioner Mike Pries. “Today’s announcement also
underscores the importance of continuing the revenue sharing program with the
Last year the state
Supreme Court invalidated the revenue-sharing program following a challenge by
the owner of the Mount Airy Casino & Resort in Monroe County. The commissioners
have called on state lawmakers to find a legislative fix and have also reached
an agreement with Hollywood Casino to fund at least half of 2017s local funding
pending a permanent solution. Should additional time be needed, the agreement may be extended for all of 2017.
A majority of money is
used to help first responders get needed equipment enlarge or build new fire or municipal facilities, or pay off
debt. Other grants are used for improving
local infrastructure, such as water and
sewer systems. In all cases, these grants
mean local taxpayers don’t have to shoulder the cost for these vital needs that
improve the safety and livability of their communities.
Commissioner George P.
Hartwick, III said Detweiler Park benefits
the county on multiple levels and joined
with his fellow board members in thanking the Detweiler family.
“This park will offer
residents a range of outdoor opportunities, from fishing to enjoying nature to
playing sports on the fields that will eventually be built,’’ Hartwick said. “This kind of space also helps with our
overall economic development because businesses want to come to communities
that have a lot to offer employees and their families.’’
In addition to saving
green space through parks, the Dauphin County Commissioners continue to protect
farms through the Farmland Preservation
Program. The program uses a mix of state, federal and county funds to buy
development rights and ensure the land will continue for agriculture use.
Since 1992, when Dauphin
County began purchasing easements, the county has preserved 16,512 acres on 168
farms in 13 municipalities.
For more information about
Detweiler Park, go to www.dauphincounty.org/detweilerpark.
About the Detweilers
The land that will become
Detweiler Park has been in the Detweiler/Stackpole family for four generations.
Gen. Edward J. Stackpole Jr.,
who at one time owned the Harrisburg Telegraph daily newspaper, bought the
property eight decades ago. The well-known media family also once owned
Stackpole Books and Commonwealth Communications, which operated the WHP
television and radio stations.
In 1943, his daughter, Mary
Frances "Frankie" Stackpole married Meade D. Detweiler III and they
built a modest home on land adjacent to her mother and father's home.
An avid conservationist, Meade
Detweiler worked diligently to improve tree health, attract wildlife, create a
sustainable ecosystem and maintain walking trails on the property that the
family enjoyed on a daily basis.
A 1993 letter found in Meade
Detweiler’s files states simply his vision for the future of this land:
"The property should be an area where habitats are preserved and managed
in perpetuity for wildlife based on sound ecological principles that
demonstrate a strong land ethic..."
On Dec. 30, 2016, his heirs, Susan
Detweiler, wife of the late M. David Detweiler IV; Frances Detweiler Granatino;
and Esme Detweiler Freedman fulfilled that vision through a combination
donation and sale of the property to Dauphin County.