Saturday, August 20, 2022

Recovered deed allows Columbia Borough to receive 1st part of $3M state grant

When: Columbia Borough Council meeting, Aug. 9.

What happened: The borough may now apply to receive $1.348 million, a portion of the state grant money it was awarded, for refurbishing Columbia's Market House. Borough solicitor Evan Gabel found a missing deed a few weeks ago, and the document proves that the borough owns part of the land under Borough Hall and the Market House.

Quotable: "This is all the proof we need to show ownership of the land," Borough Manager Mark Stivers said after the meeting. Although two deeds would account for both pieces of land, the one deed is enough to apply for reimbursement, he said.

Why it's important: The borough had been unable to claim the grant money because it didn't have a deed to show ownership for two parcels Samuel Wright gave to Columbia school trustees in 1807. Those trustees then gave the land to the borough in 1850, Gabel told council members. Although internet searches and documents say the borough owns the land, the original deeds were thought to have been lost in a Borough Hall fire in February 1947. One deed was re-recorded in June 1947 but did not show up on any indexes Gabel searched.

Quotable: "We stumbled across the deed just looking (at) what Samuel Wright has done here," Gabel said.

More information: The money should come to the borough in 2023, Stivers said. Columbia will receive about $3 million in total, and the rest will go toward downtown economic development and parking spaces, Stivers said. 

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