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County to get only $130K in Open Space funds

State program allocation significantly less than it was three years ago

State program allocation significantly less than it was three years ago

May 12, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Only a fraction of the funding normally available for projects in parks and other natural areas under Maryland's Program Open Space will be available next fiscal year, Washington County officials said Tuesday.

Each year, officials from the state program announce how much funding will be allocated to each county, and a county advisory board recommends how to divvy it up based on a list of prioritized requests from the county, the City of Hagerstown, municipalities, the Board of Education and Hagerstown Community College, said Jim Sterling, Washington County's director of parks and recreation.

Three years ago, Program Open Space allocated about $3 million to projects in Washington County, Sterling said. Next fiscal year, that figure will be only $130,856.

"We didn't have a whole lot to work with," Sterling said.

The Recreation and Parks Advisory Board selected four projects to recommend for the funding from a list of 14 requests totaling more than $530,000.

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The four projects selected were:

o $23,900 for play equipment at Funkhouser Park in Hagerstown

o $64,656 for the reconstruction of Kirkwood Bridge in Kirkwood Park in Hancock

o $31,500 to stabilize a concession stand at the Pinesburg Softball Complex near Williamsport

o $10,800 to replace a deteriorating asphalt walkway at Woodland Way Park in Hagerstown

The Kirkwood Bridge project in Hancock was the only town project the advisory board recommended for Program Open Space funding. Funkhouser Park is a Hagerstown park, and the Pinesburg complex and Woodland Way Park are county parks.

The Washington County Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the advisory board's recommendations. Their approval authorizes the projects' sponsoring governments to apply for the funding.

Commissioner Terry Baker, who attended the advisory board meeting, said the board selected the Hancock bridge project because it wanted to honor a commitment it made to helping fund that project. The bridge reconstruction was completed last year.

Requests not recommended by the advisory board included a new park in Boonsboro, bleachers for Veterans Park in Smithsburg, renovation of a corn crib at Springfield Farm in Williamsport, lighting at Williamsport's Byron Memorial Park, handicapped parking at Williamsport's Beard Pool and work on the soccer field at Hagerstown Community College.

Some of those projects have also been submitted for consideration for Community Parks and Playgrounds funding, another state funding source, Sterling said.

Hagerstown Parks and Recreation Director Junior Mason said the city has heard that the Funkhouser Park playground equipment will be approved for Community Parks and Playground funds. The city will seek to substitute another project, such as fountains for the lake at Pangborn Park, on the application for the city's share of Program Open Space funding, Mason said.

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