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Board: Yes to complex for North Hagerstown

October 16, 2002|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

North Hagerstown High School got the Washington County Board of Education's approval Tuesday to move forward on its proposed athletic complex.

The approval came on a 6-0 vote - with Board President W. Edward Forrest abstaining - after a lengthy discussion about funding and the board's role in raising the needed money.

The vote was on a motion by School Board member J. Herbert Hardin to endorse the proposed $2.2 million project and to seek available funds to help pay for it.

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Forrest, in declining to vote, said that since the high school was seeking only the board's endorsement of the project, the proposal to provide fund-raising assistance clouded the issue.

Athletic Complex Committee Chairman Greg Slick said he knows how difficult it is to get state funding, which is why the committee didn't ask for money up front. The school will instead seek private funding for the project at the county's largest school.

The school will host a public hearing Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. to seek community support and address questions and concerns about the project.

Following a design presentation by architect Brent A. Feight at Tuesday's School Board work session, Dennis McGee, director of Facilities Management, said, "This very much can be done on this property - there's no doubt in my mind."

He said the proposed project meets city zoning requirements.

Feight said the athletic complex would resemble the complex at Williamsport High School. North High's stadium would have seating to one side of the field, a press box and a concession building. It would add a wall of fame and plaza at the stadium entrance.

Feight said two past drafts of the stadium design were thrown out due to deed restrictions placed in the late 1950s by Western Maryland Hospital and Coffman Nursing Home. The proximity of those two facilities that border the school to the north, led to the decision to have the two Hagerstown high schools share School Stadium at South Hagerstown High School.

Originally, the school looked into building a stadium around the practice field North Hagerstown's soccer and lacrosse teams play home games on, but it fell within the restricted area.

A second set of design plans moved the stadium south of the school to the old driving range, but that also fell within a restricted deed area.

North Hagerstown settled on a third concept which will place the athletic complex within the original School Board deed, a little farther east of the driving range.

The approved concept will cover some of the existing south parking lot and add about 20 spaces, Slick said.

School Board Vice President Bernadette Wagner cited the need for a stadium as an equity issue. She pointed to figures from last year's North High boys' soccer games that showed nearly $500 difference in revenue generated by a game played at School Stadium and a game played at North Hagerstown's lower field.

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