Horse advocates make pitch for fairgrounds

March 06, 1998


Staff Writer

Equestrian advocates, soccer and softball enthusiasts and others turned out to offer their opinions on future uses for the Hagerstown Fairgrounds during a Thursday meeting at City Hall.

Several of the approximately 50 people at the two-hour meeting spoke in favor of including equestrian facilities at the fairgrounds.

But some others suggested equestrian activities would be better moved to the Washington County Agricultural Center.

There's nothing wrong with the ag center south of the city, but the equestrian group wants to do something for Hagerstown, said Roy Wagner, of 16633 Broadfording Road.

For instance, a two-day show could draw 220 horses and between 300 and 400 people, he said.

Dr. John Newby said his concerns that an equestrian center could pose health risks had lessened after learning one proposal calls for such a center to be a distance from residential North Mulberry Street.


Newby said he was concerned about the effects of manure near homes, and said oats and hay can attract rats, and said he would prefer equestrian facilities to be at the ag center.

Robert Powell, a member of the commission that runs the ag center, encouraged equestrian supporters to attend the commission's next meeting.

Horse trainer Rhonda Replogle said many people mistakenly believe equestrian facilities would smell bad, but said she keeps her ranch near Clear Spring clean, eliminating odor.

The equestrian facilities could be rented out every weekend and clinics could be held on weekdays, she said.

"If I was an inner city child, I wouldn't want to go see these people riding and not be able to afford a horse and ride a horse," said Lynda Warrenfeltz, of 9305 Crystal Falls Drive.

To play soccer, children need only a ball and shin guards, she said.

JoAnn Tigrett, of Paradise Church Road, said more than 2,000 children in Washington County play soccer.

Only two soccer tournaments are held each year because of a scarcity of available fields, Tigrett said. Tournaments can attract 110 teams with 18 children per team, she said.

Replogle said she didn't know how many children participate in equestrian activities.

Parents can make sacrifices to enable their children to participate in riding activities, such as her parents did by working two jobs, Replogle said.

While the option that includes an equestrian center doesn't include a BMX course, that could go at a spot that was set aside for the YMCA, Wagner said. YMCA officials have said they plan to relocate to Eastern Boulevard North.

Doug Stull, public works manager, said in-line skating and bicycle riding are prohibited at other city parks so he would like those activities to be available at the fairgrounds.

Stull said softball fields could be used for league play and by local businesses holding picnics.

Council members will discuss a master plan for the 68 acres during Tuesday's 4 p.m. work session and are expected to decide on a final plan by the end of April.

Construction on the first phase of recreational facilities at the fairgrounds could begin in September.

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