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Equestrian enthusiasts plan to lobby

March 05, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Equestrian enthusiasts plan to lobby

Equestrian enthusiasts are expected to show up in force tonight to lobby for inclusion of equestrian facilities in the recreational development plan for the Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

One of two proposals by KCI Technologies Inc. includes equestrian facilities, while each plan includes four soccer fields.

The proposals will be presented to the public at 6:30 p.m. today in City Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall.

City Planner Kathy Maher said the City Council will not be limited to those two options when choosing a recreational plan for the city-owned, 68-acre fairgrounds along North Mulberry Street.

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The council could decide to combine aspects of the two proposals, said Assistant City Engineer Rodney Tissue.

Council members will discuss their options and public feedback at their March 10 work session at 4 p.m.

An equestrian center would benefit the community, said Betty M. Smith, a member of the group promoting equestrian facilities at the fairgrounds. The group will have figures available tonight about the economic impact of such a facility, she said.

Smith said including four soccer fields in both plans limits space available for other activities.

"I don't know how long soccer has been around. Maybe it's just a passing fad. Horses will be here forever," Smith said.

The soccer fields would be used, but wouldn't be enough for the roughly 2,000 children playing soccer in Washington County, said David Parker, regional commissioner for the Hagerstown Area Youth Soccer League.

"Four fields is kind of an insult up here as big as the soccer program is," Parker said.

The plan that calls for four softball fields would meet the needs of league and tournament play, said Doug Stull, who represents the softball leagues and is the city's public works manager.

The proposal that includes an equestrian center does not provide space for a BMX course.

Brian Caron, vice president of Hagerstown BMX, said the absence of a BMX course in the one option is disconcerting, since he thought the council had approved the course.

Maher said the council supported the idea, but hasn't approved final plans for the fairgrounds.

Smith suggested putting a BMX course near the ice rink, where space was available for the YMCA.

Maher said that's a possibility, but dirt would have to be carted in to make the area hilly.

Both proposals set aside space near the rink for a second ice rink and a building for the YMCA, but YMCA officials have said they are in negotiations to buy property on Eastern Boulevard North.

Cost estimates for the proposals were not available.

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