`Desperate' rec council asks county for more ball fields

Route 30 site would serve Hampstead, Manchester

June 10, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The North Carroll Recreation Council implored the county commissioners yesterday to consider developing four ball fields on a county-owned parcel between Manchester and Hampstead.

Council President Joe Bach asked the commissioners to develop a 60-acre site at Route 30 and Cape Horn Road that has been dormant for several years. The county purchased the land, known as the Stoffle property, several years ago with the intention of building a school there.

"We are in desperate need of facilities," Bach said. "We're constantly having to play catch-up. In the last six years, participation in our programs has more than doubled."

About 5,000 people use the council's football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey programs each year, he said.

More than 30 people -- including state Del. Joseph M. Getty of Manchester, whose children participate in the council's programs -- packed a meeting room at the County Office Building in Westminster to show their support for the proposed ball fields.

The commissioners expressed concern about creating recreational facilities that will one day disappear under the dust of school construction, but agreed to study the request.

"The land most suitable for school construction happens to be the area that recs and parks would want to develop," Kathy Sanner, Carroll's director of school support services, told the board.

"Only 30 acres of the property is usable" because the site is home to wetlands, a rocky ledge and a heavily wooded area, she said.

Sanner said the site might be suitable for an elementary school, but would probably not work for a middle or high school because of the topography. There are no plans to build a school at the site, and one would not be needed in the next 10 years, she said.

"Building the ball fields now could save the county money, because grading work would have to be done," said Richard Soisson, bureau chief for the county bureau of recreation and parks.

"It's a win-win situation for everybody," said Bach. "It seems to me the right thing to do."

Bach also asked the commissioners to purchase a 117-acre tract known as the Hunter property. The site is on Fridinger Mill Road in Manchester.

Bach said the property would be ideal for ball fields and a park, where people could go for a stroll or relax. North Carroll is the only area of the county that does not have a park, he said.

"Westminster has Hashawha [Environmental Center], and South Carroll residents have Piney Run Park," Bach said. "All we're asking is that we not be left out in the cold."

Town and county officials had considered buying the Hunter property, which includes an old farmhouse, but decided against the purchase in January.

"It was too expensive," Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier said. "Part of the cost was the beautiful old house that's on the property. The house alone was probably $200,000 of the purchase price. It's an amenity we don't need and didn't want to purchase."

The parcel would have cost about $1 million, Soisson said. The county set aside that amount several years ago for acquisition of park land in North Carroll. The funds, which came out of the state's Program Open Space, are still earmarked for that purpose.

"I just feel we can do better," said board President Julia Walsh Gouge.

The commissioners said they would make a decision regarding the Stoffle property by the end of the month. They agreed to work with the North Carroll Recreation Council to find a suitable park site.

Pub Date: 6/10/99

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