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Hagerstown Fairgrounds Softball Association works to finalize light deal with city

Once formally approved by the city, the project would need to be cleared by state officials

April 11, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

By late summer, a second softball field at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown should be ready to host more night games.

Representatives from the Hagerstown Fairgrounds Softball Association attended a Hagerstown City Council meeting Tuesday, looking to finalize an agreement to install field lights, which would be owned by the city.

The city would have to forward fund the entire $114,000 project, but $47,084 of that would be reimbursed by leftover Maryland Program Open Space grant funding, approved by the Washington County Board of Commissioners in late February.

The city would also provide an interest-free $35,000 loan to the HFSA to fund their portion of the project costs. The HFSA, which would pay all electric costs, would pay back the loan in five annual payments of $7,000 each.

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In the end, the city’s portion of the installation costs would be $31,916, which would be paid for through leftover and reserve capital improvement funds, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said.

The first softball field was lighted in 2007. An additional field would allow for six or seven more games per week, HFSA President Mike Kelbaugh said in January.

The HFSA hosted 13 girls softball tournaments in 2011, as well as nine church league tournaments, bringing in thousands of out-of-state players and families each weekend, which benefit local hotels, restaurants and shopping areas around Hagerstown, Kelbaugh has said.

“I think this is an opportunity for a win-win-win for our citizens and the local business community, with the extra business generated by the extra lights and being able to expand regional softball programs,” HFSA representative Mike Shifler told to the five-member council.

No action was taken Tuesday, but council members were supportive of the project.

“I know my brothers and grandkids go to a lot of tournaments out of town and some in town, and it’s a real economic benefit to bring those kinds of people here for events,” Councilman Martin E. Brubaker said.

Once formally approved by the city, the project would need to be cleared by state officials, with a target date for completion being sometime in July or August, Tissue said.

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