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Area communities get money for parks

August 03, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The cities of Hagerstown and Williamsport were awarded thousands of dollars in public funds Wednesday to pay for park improvements.

Hagerstown received $30,400 to upgrade Fairgrounds Park with playground equipment, and Williamsport was awarded $88,000 to pay for mini pavilions and additional pathways at Byron Memorial Park, a press release from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said.

The money came from Program Open Space, which among other things, provides public funding to improve municipal recreation areas.

Williamsport Mayor James G. McCleaf II said the city applied for the money last year.

"This will give us some more walking trails for people with disabilities," he said. "This will make (the park) more accessible for everybody."

The park has three existing pavilions that are available to the public for a rental fee, but the new pavilions will be smaller and free to use, he said.

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At this point, McCleaf said he isn't sure how many pavilions the grant money will buy.

If everything goes well, the pavilions and pathways should be in place by next spring, he said.

Williamsport also intends to use Program Open Space funding to help pay the cost of creating another entrance and exit at Byron Memorial Park by extending Church Street.

James R. Castle, Williamsport's clerk and treasurer, said the city recently secured about $177,000 in Program Open Space funds to complete the Church Street extension project.

The rest of the money for the $225,000 cost probably would come from state highway funds, he said.

Hagerstown Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said she was pleased after hearing that the city received the money.

She said she remained concerned, however, about the city's recent decision to transfer $36,000 of Program Open Space money to run electric lines to light the softball fields at Fairgrounds Park.

That money originally was earmarked to pay for playground equipment at Claude M. Potterfield Pool and benches and tables at City Park.

Nigh said the money shouldn't have been transferred.

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