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Bids expected soon for park expansion

September 10, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

BOONSBORO - Boonsboro officials say they soon will be receiving bids to begin work on an expansion of Shafer Park.

Town Manager Debra Smith calls that a "big step" for a project that has been in the planning stages since 2001. She says that step would not have been possible without thousands of dollars in grant money Boonsboro has received for the project.

Smith said officials recently learned of a $120,000 grant that will help fund two multiuse fields, restroom facilities and an entrance to the new park area.

The park eventually will sit on 35 acres. The town's new library is in that area, known as King Farm.

"To all municipalities, grant money is critical to what we can do," Smith said. "It's the bottom line as to what we can do with our facilities. Grant money is becoming extinct and harder to find these days, so we're grateful for every penny we can get."

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Boonsboro has received at least $230,000 in grants for the park expansion, she said.

The bulk of that money came from Maryland's Program Open Space. Smith said the town will receive $120,000 from last year's budget and $75,000 from this year's budget.

About $20,000 of that money will go to build an entrance to be used for the park.

Officials also applied for a 2005 bond bill for the King Farm expansion and development, which includes improvements to the park. The project was awarded $65,000.

Under a separate program aimed at parks and playgrounds, Smith said the town will receive another $77,760.

With grant money coming in, officials are not sure when the park expansion project will be complete, Smith said.

"Everything is dependent on funding," she said.

Other additions to Shafer Park will include a pet area, walking trails and additional ball fields. The goal is eventually to have an aquatic center there, Smith said. A fishing pond was completed in 2006.

Smith said town officials hope the grant money will help offset the cost of the project to town residents.

She said Boonsboro has increased taxes twice, each time by 3 cents. That money goes into an account to pay back a $2 million loan town officials were using to keep the project going, Smith said.

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