PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Allegheny County Council has voted to approve a deal to drill for natural gas under Deer Lakes Park. The vote was 9-5 in favor of the drilling plan.

The public had one last chance Tuesday night to try to sway Allegheny County Council’s vote on whether to allow drilling.

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Nearly 100 people signed up to weigh in before the vote was taken early Monday morning.

A group opposed to drilling laid out a list of what they said was 7,500 signatures from people who wanted the county to strike down the drilling deal. It stretched around the room twice.

Deer Lakes Park is a tremendous Allegheny County asset with nearly 1,200 acres of lakes, trails, playgrounds and beautiful woods.

Underneath the park, is the potential for tens of millions of dollars in gas royalties for the county. That’s where the conflict began.

Emotions were running so high during last night’s vote, that the County Council Vice President Nick Futules shouted an obscenity at one of the fracking opponents:

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Opponents are clearly concerned about the environmental impact and the future of the park:

“This park belongs to the people of Allegheny County. The men, women and children. But, the County Council and executive have stolen it from us and sold it to the only bidder – the aggressive gas industry,”

However, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the deal with Range Resources will actually improve the park and it has broad based support from labor and business:

“A victory for the taxpayers, a victory for the people who use the parks, and quite frankly, a victory for the people in West Deer and Frazer Townships,” Fitzgerald said.

When all is said and done, the county could reap an estimated $50-$70 million from the deal.

Drilling could begin this year. However, the drilling pads won’t be in the park. They will be on some private property nearby.

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