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Residents - Fairgrounds should offer some variety

March 14, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Residents - Fairgrounds should offer some variety

The Hagerstown Fairgrounds should have a variety of recreation facilities for children, city residents interviewed in an informal survey said Saturday.

Most of the 20 residents interviewed said they liked plans for the facility, which include soccer and softball fields, an equestrian center or a BMX off-road biking course.

"My feeling is the space should be used by as many people as possible," said Katy Ailstock, 38, of Hamilton Boulevard.

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"I'd like to see a compromise, where everybody gets a piece of the pie."

KCI Technologies Inc., a design firm, has presented the City Council with two concept plans for the fairgrounds, both of which include four soccer fields. One includes equestrian facilities but has only one softball field and no BMX course. One without equestrian facilities includes four softball fields and a BMX course.

Soccer supporters have argued that they should have eight fields because 2,000 children play soccer in the county, but that would take up space planned for the other facilities. Supporters of an equestrian center say it could co-exist with the soccer fields.

All of those interviewed Saturday supported soccer fields, but they were divided over whether an equestrian center should be included.

"Soccer fields would probably be better for the kids around here," said Ruth Miller, 39, of Alexander Street in the West End.

Kenneth Shaffer, 25, of Burhans Boulevard, said he'd like to see some basketball courts. Shaffer said the courts that he plays at have limitations such as a lack of lighting at night.

Shaffer said he'd also favor an equestrian center.

"A lot of young kids around here don't get to see (horses) that much," he said.

Bruce Atfield, 45, who lives on East North Avenue just a few houses away from the fairgrounds, said it's about time they used the property for something. Atfield said he used to walk his dog around the track on the property but can't now that the gates are locked.

Atfield said he thought BMX and equestrian activities would be good uses and he'd like to see a skateboarding center to get skaters off the streets.

He and Ailstock said skateboarders often are skating on city streets, causing a disturbance and a potential safety hazard.

Mark Durst, 39, also of East North Avenue, said he's just happy there aren't plans to put in townhouses. Whatever is developed should be for the kids, he said.

"Get kids somewhere to hang out so they don't hang out at Sheetz," he said.

"I'd like to see a nice concert center ... something other than the Maryland Theatre," said David McConnell, 51, of Crestview Avenue, just outside the city.

McConnell said a horse center would be better suited for the Washington County Agricultural Center off Sharpsburg Pike south of Hagerstown.

Bridget Brown, 38, of Broadway, said the fairgrounds property "should have a little bit of everything, a little variety." She said she'd especially like to have the equestrian center and said having horses in town would be neat.

Brandy Wilson, 23, of South Locust Street, said she's more concerned with getting a grocery store downtown than with developing the fairgrounds. Whatever the city develops, Wilson said they need to keep it cleaned up.

"If they don't keep it up, nobody's going to go," she said.

Ailstock said some uses that she would like to see would be a new swimming pool or a community garden. She said the ice rink was a good idea, and other year-round facilities should be considered.

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