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County Comment: Park and Recreation Funding Includes Stadium

County Comment
Park and Recreation Funding Includes Stadium
by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

In its regular meeting on May 2, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners approved $3.12 million in state Program Open Space (POS) funds for Park and Recreation development for Fiscal Year 2007.
Program Open Space funds are provided to Counties by the state for Parkland acquisition and Park development. All programs receiving POS funds must be open for public use by state law. POS funds are generated through state recordation taxes on sale of properties, and are not generated by County income or property taxes.
A request for increased funding was made by John Williamson and other members of the of the North High School Stadium Committee as part of an update presented to the Board at Commissioners' request.
Williamson told the Commissioners that since the North High/Callas Stadium project's beginning in 2003, over $2.96 million in private pledges and in-kind donations have been received for the construction project. The County had provided $450,000 in POS funds plus $117,000 in in-kind costs for financing the project, to date. An additional $400 in State Bond funds have been secured and the City of Hagerstown has donated $100,000.
The committee requested that the County give an additional $300,000 in POS funds for the track and a proposed playing field at North High. Williamson told the Board that state lawmakers have commended the local committee for its fund-raising efforts.
Later in the same meeting, Buildings, Grounds and Parks Department Director Jim Sterling brought a request, to adopt the annual Program Open Space funding for FY 2007 as recommended by the Recreation and Parks Board, before the Commissioners.
POS guidelines require the Board of County Commissioners to adopt the program each year. The various municipalities, Board of Education, Hagerstown Community College, plus the County and City submit projects for consideration for inclusion in the annual program. Based on the anticipated funds available, a program is developed giving consideration to the priority ranking of the project given by its sponsor. The Recreation and Parks Board then recommends to the County Commissioners a program for adoption. For FY '07 the POS allocation is $2,867,918.00. The Recreation and Park Board recommendations included $50,078 for acquisition of land for expansion of Shafer Park, and $100,000 for development of King Farm Park in Boonsboro.
Funkstown requested $58,500 for a Walkway and Lights for the basketball court in Community Park.
The City of Hagerstown requested a total of $373,860 for the Fairgrounds Grand Stand roof replacement and trail lighting as well as new restrooms for Wheaton Park.
Hancock requested $275,306 for a bridge in Kirkwood Park, as well as a restroom and parking lot in J. Hancock Park.
Smithsburg requested $76,500 for playground equipment, a storage shed and a concept plan for Veterans' Park. Williamsport requested $22,500 for the Church Street extension and restrooms in Byron Park.
Washington County requested funding for development of a park site at Springfield Middle School, parking and road paving at Black Rock Golf Course, a parking lot and play equipment for Kemp's Mill Park, walkway lights at Doub's Woods Park, and paving of roads at Marty Snook park for a total of $195,825.
Hagerstown Community College requested a total of $182,815 for development of tennis courts and refinishing of the gym floor at the ARCC. Sterling told the Board that portions of the ARCC flooring are coming up due to heavy use attributed to indoor track meets.
The Washington County Public School system requested $150,000 for development of the North High track, $46,900 for the Williamsport High track, $800,000 from the FY '06 and FY '07 POS budgets for the Maugansville Elementary School Community Recreation Center, and $450,000 for the Westfields Elementary School Community Recreation Center. Sterling told the Board that the community center totals were projections and might come in at a lower level.
Total recommended funding for the year was $3.122 million, which included funds set aside in FY '06.
Commissioner Dori Nipps , who serves as Commissioner representative on the Recreation and Parks Board (RPB) said the RPB approved all requests for POS funding and requested that some $299,677 remain in reserve for future projects. The RPB also recommended that no additional funds be provided for development of the North High Track, Nipps said.
Commissioner Jim Kercheval made a motion to accept the proposals as presented with amendments to reduce funding for the Maugansville School project to $600,000 and reduce the Westfields School project by $100,000 and use the resulting $300,000 to fund the remainder of costs for the North High School Stadium Track. That measure would bring the total amount of POS funds to $750,000 for the stadium project.
The motion was approved on a 3-2 vote with Commissioners Nipps and Bill Wivell voting "no". Commissioner Nipps supported the RPB recommendations, and Commissioner Wivell wanted further information about some of the proposals.

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