MOUNT AIRY — A deal for new athletic fields adjacent to the Twin Ridge ElementarySchool has been hammered out by town administrators and Frederick County officials.
Frederick County will pay for and build five recreational fields at the school, which is under construction and scheduled to open next fall.
Plans call for two ball diamonds, two soccer-football-lacrosse fields, and one combination facility that will feature both a diamond and an overlapping rectangular field.
For a town that has been looking to improve recreational facilities, the notion of the new facilities at Twin Ridge was welcomed by Mount Airy officials.
"We can always use more recreational facilities," said Town Councilman Marcum Nance. "It's a lot like money -- You're going to use whatever you have. I don't anticipate a time soon when we have more ball fields than we have kids wanting to use them."
The school, on the other hand, is being built to meet an urgent need.
Twin Ridge Elementary is intended to provide relief for the overcrowded Mount Airy Elementary School, which has an enrollment of 831 students.
Twin Ridge is being built in Frederick County on 22 acres south of town, off Route 144 near Rising Ridge Road. Twin Ridge Elementary will have a capacity of 670 students.
Mount Airy gave the parcel to Frederick County in return for the county building the athletic fields.
The county agreedto complete construction after earlier discussions had centered on both the town and county sharing the task of getting the facilities built.
"That's basically what we'd gone in and asked for originally," Nance said.
Frederick officials, including County Commissioner Gail Bowerman, attended this month's meeting of the Town Council to discuss the details of the deal.
At that meeting, the town agreed that Frederick County will control access to the fields. Priority will be given to the school's use of the facilities. But Mount Airy generally will be able to use the fields evenings, weekends and summer, said Nance.
One group in town that will be able to take advantage of the new fields is the Mount Airy Youth Athletic Association, which runs programs in a variety of sports for area youngsters.
Developer E. Brook Lee ceded the land to the town under a Mount Airy code whichrequires that builders donate to the town 10 percent of the land used for new developments, or a fee that is roughly equivalent.
Originally, the town was going to sell the land to Frederick County and use the money to build fields on its own, with perhaps some money left over for other park projects in Mount Airy.
Early on, the sale price that was discussed for the Twin Ridge site was $380,000.
But town administrators concluded it probably would cost as much to construct the fields themselves as it would to give the land to the county and have the county build the fields.
Additionally, the contractorsalready would be in place building the school. Construction of the fields will include grading of the site and landscaping.
One of theball fields will be lighted, but the lighting might not be installeduntil next year, Bowerman told the council.