Dredging Up A Shed

Officials in Hazleton, Pa., are planning a redevelopment that would include the largest amphitheatre in the area but they have a few hurdles to clear first.

Mayor Louis Barletta’s plan involves filling old strip mines with dredged sediment from nearby rivers, harbors and lakes, along with other materials including coal ash and kiln dust. The 28,000-capacity amphitheatre and a number of stores, restaurants and warehouses would be built on top of the filled mines.

For filling the dangerous mines, the city could receive royalties that would help defray the cost of the shed, according to the Standard-Speaker newspaper.

The project still requires approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection. Opponents of the plan say the dredge mixture would contain high levels of toxins, constituting a public health hazard and a danger to the environment.

Filling the mines would take about five years. Barletta said construction on the 253-acre site could begin immediately afterward, and that developer Hazleton Creek Properties could spend the interim attracting investors, according to the Times-Leader.