A tax sale saga
Every year, we go throught the tax sale list, to see if there are any conservation parcels that are worthy of our attention. In 2011, we found one in Middletown, almost directly across from our Iron Mine Run property. It looked like great habitat and forested buffer, lying between Middletown and the Creek. The old Union Canal runs through it, and it is bordered on the south by the old raceway, which diverted water toward Middletown. The deed said it was 5 acres, but we could tell it was more than that. These tax sale properties can be very inexpensive, but they come with no guarantee that they are free of liens (or even exist at all) so it is risky to purchase them. Our Preservation Committee wanted to try to acquire it, but the timing was not right for Board approval, so we had to let it go. Because it seemed a shame to let it go, Rich and Sally Zaino (both on the Preservation Committee) decided to buy it themselves, and donate it to the Conservancy. Sally was the only bidder, so she and Rich became the proud owners of a piece of floodplain in Middletown, which they reported to the next Board meeting. After some hilarity, and a thorough environmental study, the Board voted to accept it. But it took two years for Rich and Sally to clear the title and be able to deed it over, because the property had a lien on it. When we finally got that cleared up, the County wouldn’t record it, because the acreage on the deed didn’t match the dimensions of the property. Our Stewardship Director, Richelle, did her GIS mapping magic, and provided the County with the exact acreage and dimensions, which to our surprise turned out to be almost 11 acres, with 1650 feet of Creek frontage! The deed was finally recorded, making Manada Conservancy ownership official.
The property is available to the public, but is only safely accessed from the Creek. It is divided from Middletown by the M & H Railroad line.