State funds two recreational sites

July 15, 1997


Staff Writer

The state of Maryland is helping pick up the tab for two area recreational sites in Washington County.

The Pinesburg Softball Complex near Williamsport and the Hagerstown Fairgrounds will get more than $680,000 in Program Open Space funds this year, officials said.

Open space funds come through a Maryland Department of Natural Resources branch that obtains revenue from a transfer tax on all state property sales.

The state Board of Public Works on Friday authorized Project Open Space spending of $25,000 to finish developing the softball complex and $663,500 to reimburse Hagerstown for its cost of acquiring fairgrounds land from Community Center Inc., a nonprofit subsidiary of the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation.


Hagerstown, which bought the fairgrounds site in February for about $1.3 million, also will receive $70,000 per year for up to seven years from the county share of open space money, said Hagerstown Planning Director Richard Kautz.

Hagerstown officials must determine the budget and funding sources to implement the fairground's initial concept plan, which includes a limited equestrian area, BMX bicycle motorcross, multi-purpose fields, pedestrian trails, concert stage, skateboarding and in-line skating area, and the ice rink that is under construction.

Unlike the ice rink, to be completed in August, construction for the area's other features should take place over the next several years, said city engineer Bruce Johnston.

"The first step is to get the property. The next step is to figure out what happens next," Johnston said.

Work at the Pinesburg Softball Complex will give players a state-of-the-art facility for softball tournaments and league games.

"Man, I'm glad to hear that," said Amateur Softball Association President and player Dick Montgomery when he heard about the funding approval. "I'm just tickled to death."

The Project Open Space funds reimbursed the county for its overspending on the $522,500 42-acre complex in the past three years. Built on top of a landfill, the complex required drainage installation that county officials had not planned for, said Ron Kidd, director of Washington County Recreation and Parks Department.

"Now we can pay our bills. Without this money, I don't know what we would have done," Kidd said.

The renovated Pinesburg Complex, a few miles northeast of Williamsport on Md. 68, has four softball fields, paved parking, concession stands, restrooms, fencing, backstop, eight dugouts and a practice field. Scoreboards will be installed by the end of next week, Kidd said.

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