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Small town has grown

January 09, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

BOONSBORO

karenh@herald-mail.com

Outside Crawford's Confectionery, a steady stream of traffic zipped through downtown Boonsboro. Near midday, the store was almost empty, but Main Street was busy.

New developments are bringing change to Boonsboro, customer Neil Fales said over a cup of hot chocolate.

"Well, I don't want to see it change. I like it country. I'm a mountain person," said Fales, 73, a Boonsboro High School graduate who lives south of town.

For now, new growth in the areas surrounding Boonsboro is on hold, Mayor Charles "Skip" F. Kauffman said. According to information available on the Washington County Public Schools Web site, both the high school and Boonsboro Elementary School are nearing state capacity.

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"Right now, we're in a wait-and-see mode, more or less," Kauffman said.

The town is waiting on the county's approval of new housing projects before moving toward annexations that could pave the way for the construction of about 3,400 new units over the next 20 to 30 years, Town Manager John Kendall said. Plans to expand Shafer Memorial Park and build a new library and a new $5.3-million public-works facility, which will include a new wastewater treatment plant, are moving forward.

"A lot of people that are moving into this area are coming out of areas that are rather developed, and they're used to services that we just haven't been able to provide," said Janeen Solberg, vice president of the Boonsboro Free Library Board.

According to Solberg, people have donated about $1.2 million toward a new library. Groundbreaking is set for this year, she said. The building could be completed by late this year, she said.

"I hope so. It would be fun to, you know, have it ready to go. When I think of Christmas, what a busy time of the year, but what a great Christmas present to have it open," Solberg said.

The library will be one of the crown jewels of a renovated town park, Kauffman said.

Plans call for a fishing pond - covering about half an acre and stocked with bass, perch and other fish - to open in time for the town's annual fishing derby in May, Kendall said.

Phase I of the park renovations also include the design and development of new parking lots, Kendall said. New playing fields could be ready by next fall, he said.

Though new developments are hamstrung by the county commissioners' adequate public facilities ordinance, Kauffman said the growth the town is experiencing was long forecast.

"It took them 10 years to catch on, but they finally caught on, and it's got us painted in a corner at this time," Kauffman said.

While the town's current lagoon system cannot meet state standards for nitrogen removal, Kendall said the new system, which will be able to handle 530,000 gallons a day, has been designed to accommodate the growing population. It will be 75 percent complete by the end of the year, he said.

Across the road from Fletcher's Grove development, where heavy machinery sat idle a day after Christmas, a sign welcomed the new Weis Market. Assistant store manager Eric Hahn said the store, which opened Dec. 3, is looking forward to seeing the area grow.

Fales, who has two grandchildren attending Boonsboro schools, said he worries about the effect growth will have on the schools and traffic.

"You know, you move up for the country, they move up for the country ... and you know, it's all going to change," Fales said.

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