The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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April 23, 2013

County transferring land rights to boro

SOMERSET — Turns out, Somerset County, not Ursina Borough, was likely the longtime owner of land that is currently home to Hugart Park.

According to a letter from the borough’s solicitor, David Flower, the most recent record of ownership is from Aug. 29, 1878, when it was purchased by the county commissioners in a treasurer’s tax sale. There is no actual deed of record for the park going to Ursina.

Flower recently asked the current commissioners to approve a quit-claim deed, which would transfer any land rights the county may have to the municipality for $1.

Commissioners Pamela Tokar-Ickes, John Vatavuk and Joe Betta voted in favor of the agreement during their regular biweekly meeting on Tuesday morning.

“A quit-claim deed means we’re not saying we actually have any ownership interest or not, but, if we do, we’re giving them whatever we have,” said Somerset County Solicitor Daniel Rullo.

The property’s legal status likely just had  been forgotten about for more than a century until records were searched.

“It fell into what we call the repository,” said Rullo. “Generally, we put the property back on sale a second time on what is called the judicial sale, where someone has the ability to buy the property again to clean off any judgments or mortgages. Apparently, this is one that no one ever bought. When somebody did a search of the record, they found that the property is still sitting in the repository.”

The first known record of the tract is when it was conveyed by Levi Ream to William J. Baer in 1868.

Then, in 1871, when Ursina existed but was not officially a borough, Baer divided the property and sold parts to four other individuals. Baer retained certain exceptions, including an area called the “square,” where the park is now. The land was put up for sale after taxes were not paid in 1876 and 1877.

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