By JIM MEYER
What began as a misunderstanding may have led to better cooperation between Emlenton Borough and Venango County, according to Emlenton Mayor Jamie Hunt.
Hunt held a town hall meeting Wednesday to address concerns from residents about the county’s handling of the former Fuchs Lubricants building that sits at the opening of the river trail near the former site of the Quaker State refinery.
“I know a lot of residents were concerned about it, so I wanted to have an open forum and see what everybody thought,” Hunt said.
The concerns stemmed from a March meeting in Emlenton between representatives of the county, borough council and a developer.
Emily Lewis, director of economic development for Venango County, said the developer had expressed interest in the Fuchs building, now owned by the Oil Region Alliance, but that nothing more had come of it.
“We’ve had conversations with the developer and it’s really preliminary,” Lewis said. “From the county’s standpoint, whatever Emlenton wants is what we do. We have no interest in shoving anything down the throat of any community if it’s something they’re not interested in.”
The developer eyed the building for a possible site of senior living apartments, which Hunt said some residents opposed due to the site’s potential for commercial use.
“Because our downtown section has a very limited amount of business or commercial space, a lot of people see a necessity to have more spaces available for businesses,” Hunt said.
With environmental concerns due to the area being a former industrial site, Hunt said residential development may not be possible.
County commissioner Albert “Chip” Abramovic and planning director Jason Ruggiero also attended Wednesday’s town hall meeting, which Hunt said created a greater sense of partnership between borough and county.
“It actually created a lot of positive energy,” Hunt said. “I think the community and the county members now have the ability to work together a little better. Everybody’s on the same page.”