Commissioners OK park, sports fields for former Stoffle parcel

3 board members agree on property between Manchester, Hampstead

June 24, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The Carroll commissioners have approved plans to develop sports fields and a small park on a county-owned parcel between Manchester and Hampstead.

The three-member Board of County Commissioners unanimously decided Tuesday to transform half of the 60-acre site at Route 30 and Cape Horn Road into a recreation area. The county purchased the land known as the Stoffle property several years ago with the intention of building a school there.

But school construction plans have been put on hold. Kathy Sanner, Carroll's director of school support services, told the commissioners two weeks ago that only 30 acres could be used to build a school, because much of the land is covered by wetlands, woods and a rocky ledge.

"We've been told that it is not a suitable location for a high school or middle school," said Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier.

"We own the property and already have plans drawn up for the ball fields and park. I didn't see any reason to hold those plans up. We're not sure there will ever be a school built on that site," Frazier added.

Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Donald I. Dell could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The board's decision came two weeks after more than 30 North Carroll residents -- including state Del. Joseph M. Getty, whose children participate in North Carroll's recreation programs -- met with the commissioners and voiced their support for the project.

"This is big news for North Carroll," said Joe Bach, president of the North Carroll Recreation Council, who learned of the commissioners' decision yesterday. "We're very excited. This park will give [us] a place to call home and provide us with much-needed facilities."

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

It was not known yesterday how much the project will cost or when work will begin. Before making recommendations on how to proceed, engineers will study plans drafted last year by county staff.

Bach also is pushing for development of another site. He wants the county to buy a 117-acre tract known as the Hunter property for ball fields and a large park. The site is on Fridinger Mill Road in Manchester.

Manchester town leaders and county officials had considered buying the property, which includes an old farmhouse, but decided against the purchase in January. The commissioners mentioned the cost -- which would have been about $1 million -- as the main factor in their decision.

Bach said he has studied about 20 other sites in North Carroll and remains convinced that the Hunter property is ideal. He has asked Christopher D'Amario, Manchester's newly elected mayor, to support purchase of the land.

The commissioners have not said whether they will revisit the issue.

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