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North High stadium location to change

April 21, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

A deed restriction that limited the location of North Hagerstown High School's proposed athletic complex has been lifted, moving the stadium 100 feet to the east and saving about $1 million in project costs, said Athletic Complex Committee Chairman Greg Slick.

The Maryland Board of Public Works last week released a restrictive covenant in one of North High's deeds, which allowed the school to move the stadium 100 feet, or one-third of a football field, to the east. Now, the stadium partially will cover property once restricted to no lights or noise, he said.

The original $2.7 million athletic complex proposal, which was approved by the Washington County Board of Education in October, included tearing up part of the school's southeast parking lot. Allowing the stadium to be pushed 100 feet to the east will allow the school to keep the parking lot intact, shaving about $1 million off the project, Slick said.

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The original proposal put the stadium entirely on property that had no deed restrictions.

North High is built on property deeded by the state to the county in 1956, which covers the school's athletic fields, and on property deeded to the school by Henry A. Bester Jr. in 1955, which covers land extending from Pennsylvania Avenue east to the school's southeast parking lot.

The state property, which was negotiated between Western Maryland Hospital Center and the Washington County Board of Education in the 1950s, was limited by light and noise restrictions for use by the school, Slick said.

"Health care at that time required peace and quiet," he said. "And the north end was a pretty exclusive residential neighborhood."

Slick said he believes the move will still keep the school building as a noise buffer between the stadium and Western Maryland Hospital Center and the Coffman Nursing Home.

The athletic complex now will be located to the southeast of the school where some athletic fields and a former driver's education range currently are located. It will include a field to accommodate football, soccer and lacrosse, a three-level press box/ticket stand, concession stands, rest rooms, four banks of stadium lights and a Wall of Fame, he has said.

The stadium would have a capacity of about 1,200, with an area set aside for possible future expansion.

While the School Board told the committee to move forward with fund-raising for the project, the committee has not sought help from the School Board to pay for it, Slick said.

The committee has raised about $150,000 and plans to raise at least $700,000 through donations from local businesses and alumni, he said.

He hopes to have the stadium up and running by 2005, he said.

North High already has hosted a public hearing on the project, which raised a concern that parking overflow would run into residential neighborhoods surrounding the school.

Slick said the committee has looked at ways it would force parking overflow into fields by the stadium, he said.

North High, the largest school in the county, and South Hagerstown High School currently share School Stadium, which was built at South High in 1957 and has been shared by the schools for 43 years.

Slick has said a big reason for the new stadium push is expanding teams and programs at both schools that one stadium can't accommodate. The addition of varsity and junior varsity lacrosse teams at the school has made it even harder to share School Stadium due to scheduling conflicts.

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