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TVL BRIEFS - Pay it with strawberries

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. -- Talk about a sweet deal.

For more than two decades, the Mechanicsburg Museum Association has paid its rent in strawberries -- four of them.

Recently, museum association member Joan Quick brought four plump red berries in a plastic bag to borough council.

The payment is for rent on a building that was constructed in the 1860s by the Cumberland Valley Railroad Co. for the town's stationmaster. The borough owns the house, located on Strawberry Alley, but the association provides upkeep and has restored the home to its 19th-century appearance.

A committee created to save the house from demolition in the mid-1970s came up with the idea to pay in strawberries as a way to symbolize a spirit of cooperation.

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Uncertain future

PHOENIX -- Owners of Scottsdale's foremost Wild West tourist attraction are trying to keep it from becoming a ghost town.

Rawhide Wild West Town is being threatened with foreclosure, and the owners are negotiating with the lienholder to keep from losing the park.

Rawhide is a replica Wild West town that claims to be Arizona's second-most popular attraction, behind the Grand Canyon. Nearly a million visitors from 67 countries visit annually, according to Rawhide.

Officials with Rawhide's owner, Pinnacle Sonoran Properties LLC, are meeting with the lienholder, the Jaren Corp. of Phoenix. Jaren's president, real estate developer Jerry Hirsch, bought Rawhide in 1983 and sold the majority of the attraction to Pinnacle Sonoran in 1998.

"We're trying to work out an agreement with the owners, which will avoid a foreclosure and trustee sale," Hirsch told the Arizona Republic.

development alternative

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A pricey plan by environmentalists would preserve the North Jersey Meadowlands in its natural state instead of yielding portions of it to commercial developers.

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A plan backed by U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman would create a Meadowlands Environmental Park to preserve the area's marshes and mudflats and reverse decades of toxic abuse.

Organizers envision nature trails, environmental education centers, canoeing along the Hackensack River and endangered wildlife such as the yellow-crowned heron flourishing in the marshy swamps.

A century ago, the Meadowlands covered 21,000 acres. Today, parking lots, shopping malls and other development cover two-thirds of the land.

The plan for an environmental park, which could cost a half-billion dollars, faces hurdles as officials search for options to keep the area economically viable if the Nets, Jets and Devils leave the Meadowlands sports complex.

Federal regulators are considering a plan by Virginia-based Mills Corp. to build a 2 million-square-foot commercial development.

The company has offered to give the state 600 acres in Carlstadt in exchange for the right to build office towers, a 521-room hotel, retail shops and an indoor ski slope.

While activists fight the Mills bid, Rothman wants Congress to approve $5 million as a down payment for preserving all 8,500 undeveloped acres.

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