Groups may get temporary home at fairgrounds

April 16, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Hagerstown officials are considering offering temporary space at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds to some recreational groups while continuing to work on a plan for the 68 acres.

Temporary space also could be offered this summer for freestyle biking, roller hockey and BMX, said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman during a Tuesday evening work session of Hagerstown's City Council.

It wouldn't take much work for space beneath the grandstand to be made suitable for skateboarders, said Lynda Warrenfeltz. who said she is a certified in-line skating instructor and has had first aid training.

Before that can happen officials must determine whether the city can afford to accommodate various activities and address safety, security and management issues, Zimmerman said.


Several recreational groups interested in having facilities at the fairgrounds have banded together and presented a proposed design to city officials.

The plan presented Tuesday by the Hagerstown Activity Foundation's spokesman included scaled-back equestrian facilities as well as two multipurpose fields and two softball fields.

Instead of an indoor equestrian ring, two outdoor rings and permanent stables proposed by a city consultant, the foundation proposes two outdoor equestrian rings, a jousting track and portable stalls, said spokesman Ken Welch.

The proposal also calls for space for BMX, freestyle biking, roller hockey and specialized activity areas for small children and senior citizens. It would convert the grandstand into a performing arts center.

The senior citizen area could provide horseshoes, shuffleboard and lawn bowling, Welch said.

The performing arts center would be named for Barry Tuckwell, who resigned recently as conductor of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra after 16 years.

Several council members expressed concern about the foundation's proposal for concerts at the grandstands because the fairgrounds is in a residential neighborhood.

While the city doesn't have an official cost estimate for demolishing the grandstand, officials said the cost would be exorbitant.

Welch wanted to know whether city officials want the foundation to help fund the construction of recreational facilities so members can start applying for grants and soliciting corporate donations.

Zimmerman said council members must come up with a master plan for the fairgrounds before determining the foundation's role.

Welch said soccer officials were invited to join the foundation but declined.

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