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Council to visit Fairgrounds Park

November 20, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council plans to take a field trip to Fairgrounds Park on Saturday to check out improvements there and see a site proposed for an indoor paintball facility, Mayor William M. Breichner said Wednesday.

During discussions about projects at the park at recent meetings, council members said they might benefit from a visit to the park.

The council will make that trip at 10 a.m. Saturday, meeting near the Police Athletic League offices near the upper grandstands, Breichner said.

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The public can accompany the council but the intention is to give the staff a chance to provide information to council members, Breichner said. He said he was not sure whether there would be an opportunity for public comment during the informal meeting.

The council will not vote while at the park, he said.

While the trip might help other council members, Councilwoman Penny May Nigh said Wednesday she knows what she needs to know about the park.

At the Oct. 21 meeting, and again on Wednesday, Nigh said she thinks the park is too focused on sports-related uses. She said she believes concerts, swap meets, antique sales and other such activities should be held there.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner, who was on the council when the city was planning the park, has said Nigh is the only one he has heard from who feels that way.

About six years ago, the city council directed staff members to focus on the reuse of Fairgrounds Park. Since then, the city has added ballfields, walking trails and other improvements.

On Sept. 17, the city opened a skate park in a vacant building previously used as a ticket station for the Hagerstown Fair, said John Budesky, director of administrative services. The skate park initially was open only on Sundays. But because attendance exceeded expectations, the hours were extended to Saturdays and Sundays in November from noon to 4 p.m.

Officials decided to have the skate park under roof instead of outdoors so it could be open for more months of the year, rain or shine, Budesky said.

At an Oct. 21 meeting, the council heard a presentation on a proposal to lease space under the lower grandstands for indoor paintball games.

Council members said they wanted more information and would visit the park before voting on 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.

The company runs Outback Paintball Store in Williamsport.

Metzner has 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 could convince him to change his mind.

While the lower grandstand needs at least $12,000 worth of work, the city could make a profit by leasing out the property, which the city now uses for storage, Budesky has said.

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