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Golf course exemption requested

August 18, 1999

Black Rock Golf CourseBy SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




The superintendent at the Washington County-owned Black Rock Golf Course is seeking an exemption to statewide water restrictions for the course.

John Kain's request for an exemption was made earlier this month without the knowledge of the County Commissioners. County Administrator Rodney Shoop gave Kain permission to ask the Maryland Department of the Environment for an exemption.

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"It would have been appropriate for the commissioners to have been informed or consulted," Commissioner William J. Wivell said. He said he did not want to comment further until he had more details about the request.

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"John's responsible for running the golf course. Whether or not the commissioners should have been briefed on it is water under the bridge," said Shoop.

Under mandatory water-use restrictions that went into effect Aug. 4, golf courses must reduce water usage by 80 percent even when, as is the case with the county golf course, the water is drawn from wells, said Maryland Department of the Environment spokesman John Verrico.

Kain said in his application that he can't meet that restriction and still reseed 25 acres of grass that were damaged by turf diseases at the course on Mount Aetna Road east of Hagerstown.

The Maryland Department of the Environment probably will made a decision on Kain's request within the next two days, Verrico said.

Kain will be told that he could try using recycled water and water from storm water ponds to help with the problem, he said. Neither approach would violate state rules.

Kain refused Tuesday and Wednesday to answer questions from a reporter and would not confirm Verrico's description of the application request. He also would not say how much of the 25 acres are on fairways.

Ronald F. Phillips, vice president of the Washington County Golf Course Corp. board, said some of the fairways were damaged last year by turf diseases.

As a result, golfers often are required to keep their carts on the golf path on some portions of the course, he said. That probably is hurting business but he did not know how badly, Phillips said.

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Monday he was unaware of the golf course request and thought it was premature.

"I would think we should possibly delay it a little bit. We should play it week by week and see how the rains go," Snook said. "We need to be very cautious about it."

Shoop did not mention the golf course exemption request at the commissioners Aug. 10 meeting during a more than 10-minute discussion of the drought.

The commissioners did not meet Tuesday because of the Maryland Association of Counties meetings this week.

The request was made before County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz and Shoop publicly questioned whether it was appropriate for a volunteer fire company to use 20,000 gallons of quarry water to create a mud bog for a fund-raiser.

Shoop later decided not to stand in the way of the Brunswick Volunteer Fire Co.'s 11th annual Pleasant Valley Frog Eye Mud Bog. The Aug. 29 event is at a private farm near Brownsville.

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