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Residents divided on Hancock park issue

May 13, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Opinions were divided Wednesday night on whether the Hancock Town Council should turn its 155.75-acre Kirkwood Park over to Washington County.

Of the six residents who attended a public hearing at Hancock Town Hall on the issue, two spoke in favor of handing it over and two wanted the town to keep it.

Mayor Daniel A. Murphy said the town hasn't decided whether to give the park to the county. He said the Town Council would discuss the matter at its meeting next week.

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Murphy asked the county to consider taking over the park in October 2003 because the town could not afford to develop and properly maintain it, the county has said.

The park needs about $260,000 in repairs, according to the county.

The park is mainly used for Little League games, Murphy said.

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said by phone Wednesday night that he didn't know whether the county would be able to make a decision on the park, should the Town Council ask them to take it over, because of funding issues.

He said state funding the county receives for parks was cut recently.

Kirkwood Park has five fields, but only three are used. The other two are in a flood plain and need improvements, according to a report by Jim Sterling, the county's director of buildings, grounds and parks.

The park also needs a bridge replacement, patching and paving and new multi-purpose fields. It would cost $10,800 a season to mow the park, according to the report.

Sterling recommended in the report removing fencing and dugouts, re-seeding the infields and using the area as multi-purpose fields for soccer, lacrosse or football.

Hancock Little League president Shannon McKinley said at the public hearing that she favors the town giving the park to the county. She said the Little League didn't have the money to make repairs to the park.

"The park means a lot to the kids," McKinley said. "Anything that can be done out there, we're fully in support of it."

Town resident David Flowers said parents of children in Little League also support the county taking over the park. His son plays T-ball at Kirkwood Park, he said.

Flowers said he county does a nice job of maintaining its parks.

"My first impression is that if they can take it over tomorrow, boy, that would be great," Flowers said.

Hancock resident Frank Courtney said he would only favor the county taking the park if the town kept control of it.

Mona True said the park should remain under town ownership.

"I feel, hold onto it, Hancock," True said. "It's ours."

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