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Carroll Community College presents ideas for expanded athletics facilities, from indoor track to turf fields

Carroll Community College has studied ideas for expanded athletics facilities on the campus that could include indoor and outdoor tracks, an aquatics center, and new turf fields.

At the Board of County Commissioners meeting Thursday, Carroll Community College President James Ball presented details from a feasibility study and spoke of ways that expanded athletics facilities at the college could benefit the county as a whole.

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“This is coming out of us beginning our athletic program and some other conversations that have happened historically around the county that have indicated that the county could really benefit from expanding its facilities given for athletics through parks and rec and through other entities,” Ball said, “and helping that quality of life issue, helping the issue of giving youth and community members more to do, hopefully shaving off things like drug use, and so on.”

Carroll Community College agreed to conduct a feasibility study after meeting with the commissioners and a legislative group in the fall, according to Ball. Carroll Community College hired White Marsh-based Manns Woodward Studios to do a site survey of the campus.

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The feasibility study’s first concept includes ideas to improve the bowl for things like soccer and lacrosse; install a track, some seating and other elements; add a gymnasium and an adjacent “classroom type of building”; improve the baseball field; build a softball field on a field near Md. 32; and construct a field house, an indoor track, an aquatics center and new practice fields. A multi-story parking garage on the edge of the campus, near the intersection of Washington Road and Dorothy Avenue, is also included in the first concept.

“We understand that this would be huge and a huge impact on the campus,” Ball said, noting that such proposals, if enacted, might affect spaces that could be needed for academic facilities.

The feasibility study’s second concept is mostly the same as the first, except that the field house’s gymnasium would be combined with the indoor track and the aquatic center.

In the study, new fields would all be artificial turf to maximize play time on the surfaces, according to Ball. Turf fields can be used for many hours a day but have to be replaced in eight to 10 years, Ball said, though grass fields have higher costs to maintain.

In order to install a new turf field with a track, lights and seating, the cost could be $3 million, according to the study. Beyond that, specifics in terms of cost beyond that were not discussed at this early stage.

The intent of the study was to provide data to the county regarding possible allocations and arrangement of these possible new facilities, according to a county memo.

Execution of any ideas from the study is not likely to happen in the next year or two, Ball said.

Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, asked Ball if he was asking them which concept they would lean toward. Ball answered that he was, but added that he was looking for a little more than that.

“What we’d be looking to do would be maybe work with you all, and parks and rec could determine more about what the needs are, what the priority for needs are and how to move forward on that,” Ball said. “Try to get a sense of where the public is, what kind of support we’d get.”

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said the study was “a good help in identifying potential that could be put there in the center of this county."

Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, asked about what the school’s projected enrollment increase would be after expanding athletic facilities.

“What we know now is that we lose easily 100 students to other counties a year for athletics,” Ball said. “It’s a ballpark number, but it’s about 100 students. That’s just for the kinds of things we’ve conceived right now, basically soccer, lacrosse, baseball — not sure about basketball — for those elements, we’re looking at probably realizing 100 full-time students."

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Weaver also asked what 100 additional full-time students would do to the school’s bottom line. “It would take us above projection, which we’re trying to get to,” Ball replied.

Carroll County Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, raised concerns about investing money into a project like this if there’s a chance the county’s population of young people won’t be rising.

At the end of his report, Ball said the study aimed to assess what could be done, though there are questions of time and cost.

The next step in the potential project has not been formalized, though Ball said the college might next work toward developing a more specific needs assessment.

″I think that’s a good plan," Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said. “We’ve taken it this far, I don’t see why we can’t delve a little deeper and see if there are those out years that would be a good spot for something like this.”

Ball told the commissioners that he was willing to work with them and to do what needed to be done, including having further conversations.

“We’re right with you,” he said.

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