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City considers renovation of fairgrounds grandstand

January 09, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - A proposed multi-million dollar renovation of the grandstand at Fairgrounds Park includes removing the seats, enclosing the structure and building basketball courts and batting cages inside, Parks and Recreation Director Junior Mason said Monday.

The Hagerstown City Council is scheduled to discuss the proposal during its work session at 4 p.m. today in City Hall.

The facility houses a skateboard rink and a garage for city vehicles in the basement, Mason said, but the grandstand that used to overlook a horse racing track hasn't been used for years.

"The city wants to do something with the grandstand before it deteriorates," he said. "We're looking at a lot of money and the best use of it."

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Mason said he wasn't certain of the project's cost.

A memo that was sent Wednesday from City Engineer Rodney Tissue to City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman estimates the price between $7 million and $9 million.

Zimmerman, who said he didn't know where the money for the project would come from, said the council will not vote on the issue today. The work session is just a discussion on how to use the building in the public's best interest.

The proposal includes repairing the grandstand's roof, he said. City officials recently secured a $180,000 state grant to pay for that portion of the project.

Scott Bowen, a partner with HarneBowen Architects & Planners of Myersville, Md., the project's principal designer, said the initial blueprint calls for building batting cages in the basement and two basketball courts on the main floor.

"This is just a conceptual plan for the building," he said. "There are a million questions still to answer if the city decides to go forward."

Bowen said construction should take about 18 months if the council approves the plan.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he didn't know enough about the project to comment.

The rest of the council either did not return phone calls or could not be reached.

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