Sixty-thousand dollars just doesn't buy as much as it used to.
The Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks used to handle easily all of its self-help requests with that much money or less (it was only $50,000 a year until fiscal 1990).
But the cost of requests exploded this year, leaving the Recreation and Parks Advisory Board in the difficult position of having to defer several projects.
Self-help projects traditionally provide money to recreation councils and other community groups to build or renovate small athletic facilities -- tot lots and concession buildings, for example.
The county pays for 75 percent of the materials and credits the groups for donations of labor. The groups also must supplysome money.
"The demand is exceeding the supply," Recreation and Parks Director John P. Little said after the board announced its decisions at Wednesday's regular monthly meeting. "It's a tribute to the success of the program."
Traditionally, the county takes requests for the projects from user groups twice a year -- in February and September. Typically, the combined requests have amounted to less than $50,000.
In February 1989, for example, the county's share of four requested projects was $21,503. A year later, six requests cost $23,607.
That won't be the case this year. The eight requests presentedin February would cost the county nearly $81,000. Because of the large figure, those projects would be spread over the next two or three request periods.
The board decided to approve money for a tot lot at the new Spring Garden Elementary in Hampstead and another one at Mayeski Park in Winfield; a storage building for Memorial Park in Taneytown; and a riding ring near Union Mills for the Equestrian Council,assuming the site is approved by county agencies.
Three projects were deferred until July, when money for fiscal 1992 becomes available: ball field improvements at North Carroll High, a tot lot at Charles Carroll Elementary and a new raptor cage at the Hashawha Environmental Appreciation Center.
One other project, a proposed fitness course at East Middle School, was deferred until September, and approvalthen depends on the priority of the next batch of self-help proposals.
Part of the reason for the economic squeeze is the rising cost of the projects. Tot lots that cost about $8,000 just a few years agonow are $11,000 to $12,000. In other years, too, many of the requests were for projects in the $1,000 to $3,000 range.
Two of the projects requested this time would cost more than $4,000 each, the other six would cost more than $11,000 each.
Little said the primary reason for the success of the program is cost-effectiveness.
"I don'tknow of another county
that does it," he said of the program, which is about 10 years old. "We're getting the biggest bang for our buck."
One of the projects -- the equestrian ring -- was opposed by Ronald F. Frederick, who lives near the proposed site, off Saw Mill Road on land slated to be near the shoreline of the Union Mills reservoir.
Frederick insisted, as he has in the past, that the land is too soft and area roads too narrow to support the added auto and trailer traffic.
He said he was not convinced of the need for such a facility in the county but added that if it is needed, the county should"look for other physical sites."