Context for the Eviction

On July 7, the Centre Daily Times published an op-ed by David Gray, Penn State Vice President for Finance and Business.

Gray wrote:

“…The university is not involved in the proposed housing development…”

That was but one of the false statements in Gray’s op-ed, and Nittany Valley Water Coalition members Kelli Hoover and Terry Melton rebutted it in their July 13 op-ed, citing evidence:

“However, in 2011 PSU produced a multi-page brochure to market this land to developers for student housing (files obtained by Right-to-Know filing).”

David Stone, Mark Huncik and I obtained the “investment prospectus” during a Right to Know review of documents held by the Ferguson Township Planning Department in December 2015.

It included two pages of handwritten notes, indicating that on December 29, 2011 – five months before the Penn State Board of Trustees (led at that time by conflicted BNY Mellon President Karen Peetz) approved the main portion of the land sale from Penn State to Toll Brothers on May 4, 2012 – there was a private meeting at the Hotel Hershey.

Attendees at that meeting appear to have included Craig Rickards, then-Manager of Penn State Facilities and Real Estate Services (now deceased); Michael Jordan, a “PSU Grad, and Assistant VP and Controller” at Toll Brothers; Richard Keyser, Toll Brothers Vice President for Commercial Acquisitions and Development; Charles Elliott, Toll Brothers Managing Director and Charles Vatterott, Executive Vice President of Development at Aspen Heights.

2011 Whitehall Road Investment Prospectus

We do not know why the investment prospectus was in the public Ferguson Township Planning Department files for the Whitehall Road/Blue Course Drive development, and we do not know who else attended the December 29, 2011 meeting.

What we do know is that someone produced the brochure to  help Penn State executives market the property to prospective student housing developers, and that Penn State’s David Gray subsequently signed a sales agreement with Toll Brothers’ Richard Keyser on April 24, 2012. We have a small portion of that document, also found during our Right to Know file review at Ferguson Township Planning Department in December 2015.

4.24.12 PSU-Toll Purchase and Sales Agreement

Penn State is exempt, by state law, from the Right to Know provisions that would enable citizens to shed light on these backroom deals.

Penn State executives have, in private meetings, repeatedly told NVWC representatives that the university cannot unilaterally withdraw from the 2012 sales contract to facilitate the execution of a land swap and protect the watershed and farmland.

Skeptical of that assertion, and wanting to be fully prepared for upcoming meetings with Penn State and Toll Brothers executives, NVWC representatives have repeated requested an opportunity to review the complete sales contract, including all contingency provisions.

Penn State executives have repeatedly denied those requests.

Post by Katherine Watt