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Boys & Girls Club wants Noland Village land for center

September 07, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN

andrews@herald-mail.com

Boys & Girls Club of Washington County has asked the City of Hagerstown for 3 acres in Noland Village so the club can build a recreational center.

At Tuesday's Hagerstown City Council meeting, though, some council members said they oppose permanently giving the land to the club.

The building would include a gymnasium, a computer lab, a social area and a library, Jim Deaner, the club's executive director, wrote in a letter to the mayor and council last month.

Outside the council chambers Tuesday, Deaner told The Herald-Mail that the building would cost at least $1 million.

A preliminary sketch plan shows a 19,900-square-foot building that also has a game room, offices, a laundry, an art studio, a kitchen and a caf.

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Deaner said the club now has a small program for about 20 children in Noland Village, but "there's 500 there that need it."

"We started looking for something there about 10 years ago because of the amount of kiddies," he said.

Noland Village is off Virginia Avenue. The recreation center would be off Noland Drive, where it starts to bend to the left.

A Boys & Girls Club report accompanying the request talks about the need.

"According to the Hagerstown Housing Authority, almost 80% of the 250 families living in Noland Village are headed by single females," the report says. "The average family size is over three people per family, with the overwhelming majority of children being eleven years old or younger."

Deaner said the club served 4,400 children last year in the county at five sites.

During the meeting, Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said the Rosen family donated the Noland Village land to the city to be used as a park.

City Engineer Rodney Tissue told the council that the city received the land in 1971. It was used as a park, with playground equipment, for a while.

But the playground equipment was abused, so it was taken away, Nigh said.

The Hagerstown Housing Authority once wanted the land, but doesn't anymore, Tissue said.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner suggested that the city let the Boys & Girls Club use the land through a long-term lease, with rent of $1 a year.

However, Deaner said the club would rather own the land. The club could obtain a $100,000 matching grant by using the land as a contribution instead of money, he told the council.

Council members agreed that the city should look into a way to give the land to the Boys & Girls Club for the recreation center, but have the land returned to the city if the club stops using it.

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