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Some in West End say stadium unwanted

March 23, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

A baseball stadium and business park would be an unwelcome addition to the neighborhood, some residents of Hagerstown's West End community along Salem and Rhode Island avenues said.

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About six homeowners interviewed Monday said they feared that building a minor league baseball stadium and business park behind their homes would increase traffic, noise, flooding problems and endanger the wildlife living in the field and woods.

It has been proposed that a $14.5 million Home Run Business Park, which would include space for a stadium, up to eight business lots and a visitors center, would go on 68 acres near the intersection of Salem Avenue and Interstate 81.

"I like the area the way it is now. With peace and quiet back there," said Todd Mitchell, 32, of the 1300 block of Salem Avenue, whose back yard would abut a business park lot.

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"I think it's very bad, very bad," said Shirley Fox, a Rhode Island Avenue resident whose back yard also would abut the Home Run Business Park.

"Now we can sit here in the kitchen and watch deer and pheasants come to our back yard, and there's even one red fox that comes out," said Fox, who said she is afraid that any development would crowd out the wildlife.

"Everybody that I've talked to is upset for the same reasons," she said.

No government body has officially endorsed the plan, which calls for city, county and state governments to be the primary funding sources for the project.

Business leaders and several local politicians have organized committees to push for a new stadium. And Hagerstown city staff have examined the proposal and put together a 20-page report on the stadium/business park idea.

Washington County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz and Hagerstown City Councilman Alfred W. Boyer, who together co-chair a stadium task force organized by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said residents' concerns should be heard and other sites should be considered.

The I-81 and Salem Avenue site is the preferred location for a stadium, but Swartz said he could be swayed by vocal opposition from the community.

Boyer said opposition to the plan from the people who would live nearest to it is something that would have to be addressed.

"But we need land that is prominent and near an interstate, which would be like a billboard for the city," Boyer said.

They said the city needs to build a new stadium to keep baseball in Hagerstown, but they said it was too early to say what might happen.

Stadium backers, the County Commissioners and City Council members are waiting for the latest project-related study.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation Inc., known as CHIEF, is to report on whether a business park inside city limits appears to be feasible.

CHIEF is expected to present the report soon.

A new stadium would become the new home field for the Hagerstown Suns baseball team.

The Suns play at Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium. Most of those interviewed Monday said they think the Suns should stay at their present facility at the intersection of Memorial and Eastern boulevards.

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