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Who owns JT’s Kemmerer Park? Borough to conduct deed search to find out

Jim Thorpe Borough Council is hoping to put to rest the question of who owns the Kemmerer Park grounds on Packer Hill.

Council on Thursday night approved its solicitor, Jim Nanovic, to complete a deed ownership verification, which President Greg Strubinger said will determine the status of some groundwork that needs done at the property.

“There’s been some discussion here recently over ownership, so this will solve all of that,” Strubinger said. “We do know the borough holds some of the insurances for the property. There is a lease that is expiring in January of 2026 and this verification will also determine where that goes in the future.”

The property once housed the 19-room mansion of Mahlon Kemmerer, a local leader in the coal industry, and his wife, Annie Leisenring.

After the Kemmerers relocated to Wyoming, the mansion fell into disrepair and was torn down. Around that time, the Kemmerer Park Association was formed to manage the property. While the Carriage House still stands, the rest of the land was turned into a park and playground.

Published reports differ as to whether Jim Thorpe Borough owns the land and the Kemmerer Park Association leases it, or vice versa.

The online Carbon County Parcel Viewer lists the borough as the owner of the property.

Earlier this year, after the Carbon Chamber and Economic Development Corporation’s Krampus Festival was held on the park grounds in December, Chamber Executive Director Alice Wanamaker gave council a list of items the organization thought needed addressed to make it a viable site for future events.

“We noticed a lot of safety concerns and upgrades that, if completed, could make sure not just our festival, but other events could take place in the park,” Wanamaker said in February. “The walkways are just not large or safe enough right now for wheelchairs, strollers or walkers to get through. Trash cans were broken and in disrepair. Retaining walls around the park could use upgrades. There are no guardrails or safety markers protecting the drop-off point in the park and the bandstand was full of pretty offensive graffiti.”

Strubinger said determining ownership will allow work to move forward at the site.

“We’d really like to see this progress and I think the borough, even if it were not the owner, would want to stay involved in some way to help out in whatever we can do there,” he said.

Kemmerer Park is always attractive in spring bloom, but the park needs upgrades. Jim Thorpe borough is checking if it is responsible. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO
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