Council President Heather Zink
August 10, 2021
"This firm serves as Solicitor for the Borough of Columbia. Please be advised that at its public meeting last evening, July 24, 2017, Borough Council determined that the environmental conditions and subsurface conditions of the properties referenced in the above Agreement were unsatisfactory and therefore directed that the above referenced Agreement of Sale be voided."
The fact that the council president stated that the letter "may or may not be accurate" suggests that either the stated results of the study are inaccurate, or the borough solicitor is inaccurate. Or that contamination was not the real reason behind the cancelation.
At the October 13, 2020 council meeting, councilman Todd Burgard stated that the purchase deal was canceled because of price, not contamination. Burgard may have inadvertently told the truth.
Even though contamination was an issue, it may not have been a deal breaker for the borough. The main issue may have been dissatisfaction with the price, and the borough was looking for a way out. If it had canceled the sale due to price, the McGinness family could have sued. The only legal option, then, was for the borough to claim it was dissatisfied with the subsurface conditions.
Taxpayers footed the bill for a legal battle to prevent the release of the first environmental study done by Rettew Associates in 2017. In response to a right-to-know request for the release of the study, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records ruled that the study could be released. However, Columbia Borough, under borough manager Rebecca Denlinger, chose to fight the ruling - at taxpayers' expense. In July of this year, that battle was finally ended.
Why are officials playing dumb and saying they don't know why the original sale was canceled?
Why did Burgard say the sale was canceled due to price, not contamination?
There's been a notable lack of transparency from borough officials on this issue. We deserve more than just a "Trust me" from council president Zink. We as taxpayers have the right to expect more. We have the right to the truth.