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Part of park may be used for paintball competitions

October 22, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Space under the historic Hagerstown Fairgrounds lower grandstands might be leased to a company for indoor paintball games, but some Hagerstown City Council members said they want more information before that happens.

Council members said they want to take a "field trip" to Fairgrounds Park to look at the proposed site and to have questions answered about the proposal.

Outback Paintball LLC of Williamsport has agreed to a one-year lease with the city, under which it would pay $2,000 a month for renting a 100-foot-by-100-foot area under the grandstands.

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The company runs Outback Paintball Store in Williamsport, which is 11/2 years old.

Store co-owner Wayne Simpson told the council he would have no trouble paying the rent. Participants would sign waivers, he said.

If the proposal is approved, carpet would be put on the floor and thick heavy netting would be used for the sport in which people shoot each other with paint-filled projectiles that splatter on impact, Simpson said.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he was not sure whether the proposal fits in with his idea of what should be at the park, but said paintball enthusiasts probably can convince him to change his mind.

The lower grandstand needs at least $12,000 worth of work over the next year, including electrical, plumbing and construction work, said John Budesky, director of administrative services.

Even with the cost of the work, the city could make a profit by leasing out the property, which the city currently uses for storage, he said.

Councilwoman Penny May Nigh raised a larger issue about the park, which has a walking trail, softball and soccer fields. A skate park recently went into property above where the proposed paintball games would go.

"I want clarification. What do we want from this park? Do we want it to be people friendly or sport friendly?" she asked the council.

"You have been critical of this park since the beginning," Metzner responded.

Nigh is the only one he knows who is critical of the park and who thinks it should possibly have a flea market or swap meet, he said.

When he and others planned the park, the intent was for it to provide a range of sports-related uses and that is what has happened, he said.

Nigh later said she is not against sports, but prefers attractions that draw a wider group of people to the park.

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