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Carroll commissioners approve task force to study potential sports complex

Carroll commissioners approve task force to study potential sports complex
The fate of the former North Carroll High School is still uncertain, but the Board of County Commissioners decided to get a task force together for a multi-sport venue that could be built on the property. (Carroll County Times file)

Carroll County government staff is seeking one resident from each commissioner district to form a task force and assess where a community events center would best be located in the county, and what resources can go toward its development.

The decision was made when the Board of County Commissioners overwhelmingly agreed Thursday there is need for an events and sports center and that research is needed to determine where it should be located.

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“The Carroll County Community Events Center … we have a need here to look countywide to provide some recreation and sports,” said Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2.

He referenced the Long Term Advisory Council’s findings regarding a multi-sport venue — that a sports complex including an artificial turf field is necessary to keep families moving into Carroll County and to provide existing families desired amenities — and said the next logical step would be to establish a committee.

“What’s our vision? Where are we going to go prioritize?” Weaver asked.

“We have to have a clear vision — that comes back to the commissioners to provide the board with [request for proposal] procedures — so we are all on the same page of what is going to be needed.”

The discussion began when Department of Economic Development Director Jack Lyburn came to the board Thursday to discuss a feasibility study for the 50-acre former North Carroll High School site in Hampstead.

But although commissioners Weaver, whose district includes Hampstead, and Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said the former school would be an ideal site for a multi-sport venue, Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, said he wasn’t so sure.

“I'm not saying there’s no need,” Frazier explained. “My idea is: What’s it going to cost? How much revenue are we going to generate from it?”

He said the committee should look within a 30-mile radius of the school for ideal locations for the center — stating it isn’t the only logical place for the desired amenities. Carroll Community College, for example, is perfectly equipped for an artificial turf field.

“Believe me, I know there’s a need. Not a need for one turf field but three or four,” Frazier said, who represents the Westminster area.

“I’ve been pushing for a turf field for years; an indoor track, I think we need it in Carroll County. But after reading feasibility studies from other counties, I don't believe North Carroll is the place to put it. I could be wrong, but that’s why we need the study.”

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, was on board with a task force though, and agreed with Weaver and Wantz that it is the logical next step — especially since County Administrator Roberta Windham explained there is potential bond money for a turf field only at the North Carroll site, not anywhere else.

“If we figure North Carroll is the best location for this, that's fine,” Rothstein said. “If we figure it’s somewhere else, that’s fine — but allow the team to come up with those kinds of parameters of where we should go next.”

The board voted to form a committee, which Weaver said needs to be made up of representation from the recreation councils, school system and private individuals.

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