Meeting on possible horse-park site to be held in Cecil

Fair Hill is considered one of leading contenders

September 18, 2005|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Stadium Authority has scheduled a meeting tomorrow at Cecil Community College in North East to provide information and receive public comment before selecting a potential site for what is being promoted as one of the premier horse parks in the nation.

In what she called an open letter to Cecil County residents, Alison L. Asti, executive director of the stadium authority, said: "There are no plans to include thoroughbred or standard-bred horse racing" at the park.

"The only horse racing will be steeplechase, which already takes place at Fair Hill."

During an interview Friday, she also said there is no plan to have slot machines at Fair Hill, which is in the northeastern part of the county.

Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area is a 5,600- acre tract, formerly part of the du Pont estate, in the section where Maryland borders Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The existing equestrian center is one of two potential sites being considered for the park. The other is 1,032 acres at the state-owned, and closed, Crownsville Hospital Center near Annapolis.

Six counties submitted bids for the project. The others included Harford, Carroll, Frederick and Wicomico.

Asti said the authority and the site-selection committee wanted input from Cecil residents before picking a winner.

The site selected still would be subject to a feasibility study to determine whether it is suitable for a horse park.

The project would need approval by the General Assembly.

Other points in Asti's letter:

A byproduct of promoting the equine industry should be the preservation of agricultural business in Cecil County and less, not more, development in adjacent areas.

"We would envision that any future hotel development would be limited to the areas already zoned commercial near highways," she said.

A horse park at Fair Hill would use the 600 to 800 acres currently being used for equine activities.

No sensitive environmental areas would be disturbed.

There are no plans to eliminate or reduce any of the recreational activities at Fair Hill, including its use by mountain bikers, hikers, runners, trail riders, fisherman, campers, the 4-H Club, the county fair and hunters.

During the interview, she said the only additional buildings to be erected on the site would be an enclosed arena and an equine museum.

Asti said that if the park is located at Fair Hill, there would be improved water and restroom facilities, more parking, more stabling and an increase in the number of campsites.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Milburn Stone Memorial Theater.

A second information meeting is scheduled Tuesday evening in Anne Arundel County. It will be at 7 p.m. in the Waugh Chapel Community Center in Gambrills.

Asti said the authority would like to make its final site selection by the end of the month.

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