Ghost Town Gallimaufry

The plan to sell Long Beach West to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is officially DOA:

“Unfortunately, due to an unprecedented decline in the real estate market and poor planning by previous town officials, the sale of Long Beach West for the $10 million price approved by the voters is no longer viable,” [Stratford mayor] Harkins said Thursday. “TPL has proposed termination of the agreement, and in light of these developments, I believe it is in the best interest of the town to explore other options of preserving and protecting this environmental treasure.

“As it stands today, the $10 million purchase price will never be certified by the federal government, who would have ultimately bought the property from the Trust for Public Land. If the agreement as it is currently written were to be executed, the Town of Stratford would be forced to accept a sales price that is far less than initially anticipated.”

TPL has no one to blame but themselves. If they had been more transparent and presented the townspeople with a realistic price tag in 2008, the voters probably would have still passed the referendum and the deal could have gone through.

In an open letter to his constituents, Harkins described learning the details behind the agreement: “I felt as though I was watching Chernobyl melting down.”

Meanwhile, only five houses remain in the Pennsylvania town sitting atop a smoldering coal fire:

After years of delay, state officials are now trying to complete the demolition of Centralia, a borough in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania that all but ceased to exist in the 1980s after the mine fire spread beneath homes and businesses, threatening residents with poisonous gases and dangerous sinkholes.

Friends and I have been considering a mountain-biking expedition to Centralia. From what I’ve read, the roads are primarily safe — traffic still passes through — but visitors shouldn’t trespass in the woods southwest of town. We’re looking for a complete stranger with whom we have no emotional attachment to ride point. Wanna come along?