New school might erase ball fields

Busy Mayeski Park is long-planned site for construction

Building to begin in 2001

County could buy an alternative site closer to Eldersburg

June 09, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The school board's recent decision to build a fourth middle school in South Carroll could mean a loss of well-used recreation fields at Mayeski Park unless the county approves the purchase of another property.

Although the park near South Carroll High School in Winfield has long been slated for a middle school, it is being put to use. The park has softball, baseball, football and soccer fields, most of which are lighted, and a building that houses a concession stand and a storage area. There is also a sand volleyball court, a tot lot and several acres of open space.

"Mayeski Park is owned by the board and was always slated for a middle school," said Kathleen Sanner, director of school support services. "We could build there and make it work, but it is not ideal. We can see the value of the improvements and the intensely developed use" by the Department of Recreation and Parks.

The solution, Sanner said, would be to purchase another site closer to the densely populated Eldersburg area, which is served by public water and sewer systems. But the Board of County Commissioners has not allocated money for the school, let alone for another property.

"This school is not in our budget," Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier said in a meeting with recreation administrators yesterday.

Sanner said she will raise the issue with the commissioners as soon as possible.

"The opportunity to purchase property would save the park and save recreation money and could offset costs for both of us," said Sanner, who added that the school site would have to be at least 30 acres.

The project would postpone construction of the new Westminster Middle School by about four years. It is not the first time Westminster has had to take a back seat to South Carroll's needs. Construction of a high school in the county seat has been delayed until Century High is built.

Sanner said there is some urgency in finding an alternative site because planning for the new school is supposed to begin next summer, with construction starting in 2001.

"It is critical for us that we have property or an option to buy before we begin planning," she said. "A commitment to finding another location is in everybody's best interests."

In addition, the demographics and geography -- a high school stadium would literally be in its front yard -- do not support a school in Winfield, Sanner said. A school east of Klee Mill Road would be more appropriate, she said.

"The population that is driving the need for a middle school is in the Eldersburg area," she said. "We would like a location more conducive to demographics and geography."

If built on the park property, a school would probably obliterate most of the fields, which are on the land most suitable for construction at Mayeski, Sanner said. Those fields would have to be replaced at considerable cost to the county.

"We have sufficient property to build, but unfortunately it is exactly where the fields are," Sanner said. "The county and the board both need to be aware that we would have to re-create the rec features. Otherwise, we would be going backward."

Utilities at the Winfield site present another obstacle. Sufficient wastewater treatment is available, but the new school would have to be on a private well system.

"We prefer public water in all cases," said Sanner.

The county staff invited school officials to the park last week to show them how popular the ball fields have become.

"We wanted to make sure school officials are aware of the improvements and the level of activity at Mayeski Park," said Gary Horst, director of recreation and enterprise services. "That rec council and community pulls from as far as Mount Airy and Freedom."

Pub Date: 6/09/99

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