Park sought to stop runoff Carroll site occupied by auto junkyard

September 14, 1997|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

When Double Pipe Creek floods, tires, oil and car parts wash downstream from an auto junkyard and overrun Detour, a village off the beaten path in northwestern Carroll County.

To spare Detour further havoc, Carroll County officials are looking for federal funds that would enable them to restore the source of the debris -- Ray's Auto Parts -- to the community park it was half a century ago.

"I kind of envision a picnic area and a canoe ramp and maybe a ball field," said County Commissioner Donald I. Dell, who is leading the effort to buy the 3-acre property for a park. "Those people up there are taxpayers, and we haven't done that much for them."

T. Michael Smith, a Detour property owner who sparked interest in the park, said an old plot of Detour shows the original park, which had tennis courts.

In the 1940s, the property was a privately owned park that the owner allowed the community to use.

After the owner died, the tract was sold and became a junkyard about 1945. Ray Fanning has run his auto parts business there since 1979.

Dell said Commissioners W. Benjamin Brown and Richard T. Yates support the park proposal if grant money is available.

Detour, which lies on a flood plain at the Carroll-Frederick border, has a history of flooding. Residents have been evacuated during major floods, such as in hurricanes Agnes and Eloise in the 1970s, and a flood in January 1996.

Lisa Wright, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, a Republican who represents the 6th District, which includes Carroll County, said the congressman had been unable to find a source of financial aid for Detour.

County officials remain hopeful, however, and are looking for federal aid.

To qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance, Carroll must have a flood mitigation plan.

Philip J. Rovang, county planning director, hopes to have an assessment in three weeks of what a flood mitigation plan would entail and whether state or federal agencies are interested.

Rovang said FEMA money to buy property in flood plains is restricted to voluntary sales; local government is not allowed to condemn property.

Fanning leases the property from Thomas Carvello of Baltimore, who could not be reached for comment. Fanning is noncommittal about whether he would be interested in an offer from the county, despite having lost his trailer home in the 1996 flood.

"It's hard to get relocated in this state," he said.

Many Detour residents hoped for federal aid in 1996, but the county didn't qualify for federal assistance, said George E. Thomas Jr., Carroll's assistant director of emergency management.

"I don't want to come off as saying the people in Detour didn't have a problem, but the [FEMA] money went to Western Maryland, where some people lost everything," he said.

The county wants to avoid a repeat of the 1996 flood, which caused oil to leak from cars at the junkyard. State environmental officials sent an emergency-response team to Detour to stop the oil from polluting the creek.

In the wake of that flood, when countless tires washed downstream, the Maryland Department of the Environment required Fanning to move all auto parts and tires 25 feet from the stream. He also was ordered to remove scrap tires from the site whenever the equivalent of a tractor-trailer load had accumulated.

MDE spokesman Quentin W. Banks said soil samples from the property showed no oil contamination after the flood.

Previous boards of commissioners promised help for Detour after the hurricane-caused floods of 1972 and 1975, but the help never came, Smith said.

"I know they'll have to do something when there's another flood, because there's going to be cars in the river again," he said.

Pub Date: 9/14/97

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