Bucks County Herald

Springfield ends farming lease at Peppermint Park

BARRIE-JOHN MURPHY

Eager to put the controversy over dog deaths behind them, Springfield supervisors voted 4-0 to terminate the hay lease agreement at Peppermint Park.

Opening the packed but civil meeting, Supervisor Chairman Dave Long said, “How we got here is truly regrettable. We thought we were operating in the township’s best interests.”

Long went on to announce that the farmer, Anthony Renner, who was paid a $23,292 settlement, will be permitted to harvest hay until Dec. 1, but the township will ban any spraying of fertilizers and herbicides at the site at least until the end of this year. Whether spraying resumes remains an open question. On Monday, the Park and Recreation board recommended the placement of additional 20- by 10-inch pesticide warning placards on Deer Trail Road, along Peppermint Road, as well as informational signs along the driveway into the park.

David Bretz, who spearheaded the campaign to end the dual-use policy, which permitted the spraying of the controversial herbicide, 2,4-D, welcomed the decision but told the Herald it was bittersweet given the loss of his and other residents’ dogs. “We got what we wanted, but this should have been handled years ago. We all look forward to moving on.”

But others questioned the appropriateness of the payment to Renner.

Christine Rice, who lives across from the park and recently lost her 9-year-old pitbull to lymphoma, questioned why the farmer was receiving $23,292, when, she alleged, he had violated the lease multiple times. Susan Rosetti, of Gallows Hill Road, remarked supervisors should have just refunded Renner the $3,500 total cost of his rent.

Long replied that the decision to settle with Renner was done to bring the matter to a close, and with two and a half more years to go on his lease, offset any income he may have lost.

“We are trying to end this amicably,” Long said wearily, as a 12th case of canine cancer came to light. The man, who requested anonymity, told the meeting he lived 300 to 400 feet from the park, and that his pet had an aggressive bone cancer and had a week to live.

Supervisor James Nilsen, a local farmer who assists Renner, abstained from the vote.

None of the parties who farm at the park spoke at the meeting.

The township plans to address the management of the park at a future meeting. The Park and Rec board, which oversees the park, is expected to be disbanded in the coming months and be replaced by a new body, the Park and Land Preservation Board.

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