City considers options for fairgrounds

January 15, 1997


Staff Writer

Now that city officials have decided to buy the Hagerstown Fairgrounds, here comes the hard part: Deciding what to do with the property.

Residents of Hagerstown have come up with a number of suggestions.

The 84 people who responded to a survey by noon on Wednesday suggested 120 uses for the 68-acre property. City Planner Kathy Maher said more came in after noon.

This much is clear: The city will demolish the stables on the eastern side of the property and build an ice skating rink on about six acres. Officials also hope to link the fairgrounds, which are east of Mulberry Street, with Pangborn Park, Funkhouser Park and the Municipal Golf Course to form a large block of open space.


About 30 people broke into working groups to list ideas and concerns. Members of the Fairgrounds Working Committee hope to begin molding those ideas into a potential plan next week.

John Newby, who is on the 20-member committee, said members are striving for a plan that will ensure the "most use for the most people for the most period of time."

Newby said initial ideas include a youth sports complex, a bike track and area for skateboards and a variety of facilities for youths, adults and seniors. He said the group also hopes to promote cultural activities and antique shows.

Residents added other ideas, including equestrian facilities, athletic fields, a swimming pool, indoor sports facilities and a place for events such as concerts.

A major concern is what to do with the fairgrounds' existing structures, some of which might have historical significance. Ideas ranged from razing them in favor of new buildings to renovating them and converting them to new uses.

Newby said the committee is working to alleviate traffic and parking misgivings, which topped the list of concerns on returned surveys.

Newby said the committee would work toward decreasing the reliance on Cannon Avenue and focus on entrances from Security Boulevard and the northwest part of the grounds.

Fashioning a coherent proposal from dozens of ideas may be hard, but Newby said that there is a lot of space with which to work.

"Given the area of space we have, I think a lot of them can be incorporated," he said.

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