Delayed ag center arena near completion

Officials say final work to be done this month

Project began in fall of 2002

Westminster

April 06, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Minor detail work remains before construction on Carroll County Agriculture Center's $4.3 million arena is expected to be completed by the end of the month, ag center officials said yesterday.

Plumbing and electrical inspections and a thorough cleanup of the 52,500-square- foot arena in Westminster needs to be finished, said Lawrence E. Meeks, president of the center's board.

"The [Danele] Shipley Memorial Arena is progressing well," Meeks said. "We are very hopeful, and it appears it will be completed in April."

Once the ag center receives a use-and-occupancy permit, also expected by the end of the month, the board will decide when to open the arena, Meeks said.

Construction began in the fall of 2002 but has been hampered by inclement weather and delayed by changes in work orders.

A claim for a mechanic's lien filed late last year by a subcontractor was recently dismissed in Carroll County Circuit Court, according to court documents. Officials with Wind Gap, Pa.-based MSG Associates, the project's general contractor, have said the dispute did not contribute to construction delays.

For the past few months, the ag center has been inundated with inquiries and phone calls about renting the arena space, officials said.

The facility on Smith Avenue includes air-conditioned offices, kitchens, bathrooms and showers. The facility is outfitted with areas for holding livestock, which can be heated year-round.

Barry Lippy, the ag center's manager, said he has taken at least four organizations on a tour of the arena.

Some of the interested groups included those that want to put on a flower show, antique auctions, a bull-riding competition and a dog show, Lippy said.

"They're very impressed, especially that there are no poles and that it's clear-spanned," Lippy said of the arena's large, rectangular open space.

This summer, the Carroll County 4-H will hold its 107th fair at the arena. Last year, the fair took place in a cluster of rented tents on the parking lot at the ag center because of the construction delay.

For five years, ag center officials planned and raised funds for the Danele Shipley Memorial Arena, named in honor of a late Carroll County teacher known for her dedication to 4-H.

The project cost $5.5 million, including site preparation, architect fees and construction. The money is coming from state, county and private funds.

When the arena opens, officials hope the facility brings more agricultural, recreational and educational activities to the center.

"There's a lot of interest," Meeks said. "A lot of it."

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