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Park projects planned for four Carroll County towns include trail upgrades, athletic field lighting

Carroll County’s Board of Commissioners hopes to distribute nearly $300,000 in state-provided funds to the towns of Hampstead, Manchester, Mount Airy and Sykesville for park projects in the near future.

Since 1977, county government has given 25% of its annual Program Open Space funds from the state to the towns for municipal park projects. Four municipalities get funds one year and the other four receive them the next, then the remaining 75% of the funds is used for county projects, according to Jeff Degitz, director of the county Department of Recreation and Parks.

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This year, the four municipalities are expected receive $74,603 apiece, as recommended by the Maryland Municipal League and supported by the Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks.

The commissioners on July 9 unanimously approved a recommendation by the local chapter of the Maryland Municipal League for fiscal year 2021 Program Open Space projects. Before funds can be dispersed, the plans need to be approved by the state Department of Natural Resources and state Board of Public Works, according to Degitz. When the potential funds would be dispersed has yet to be determined.

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Last year, the commissioners voted to distribute nearly $325,000 in Program Open Space funds in early August.

“This has been a great partnership for years with each of the municipalities,” Degitz said at the commissioners meeting.

Hampstead trail upgrade

The Town of Hampstead plans to use its funding to repave a portion of the walking trail at Chief Sites Memorial Park.

The walking trail has been in existence since the 1990s, according to Christy Collins, town project manager. The plan is to replace a portion spanning 0.13 miles, or 676 feet, Collins said. The entire trail spans about 2,700 square feet. Two new benches are also planned to be installed.

The Town of Hampstead plans to use state Program Open Space funds distributed by the county to improve a portion of an existing walking trail at Chief Sites Memorial Park.
The Town of Hampstead plans to use state Program Open Space funds distributed by the county to improve a portion of an existing walking trail at Chief Sites Memorial Park. (Courtesy Photo)

The park, named for a former police chief, is bordered by Dogwood Drive and Lower Beckleysville Road.

Since the skate park at the site was updated, Collins said staff have noticed more foot traffic in the area.

“More people are out and about and enjoying the outside,” Collins said, so the town wanted to improve the old trail.

If there is money left over after the asphalt is in place, Collins said the town plans to make improvements to War Memorial Park, perhaps by installing swings, though she noted that plan is not finalized.

New athletic field lighting in Manchester

Christmas Tree Park in Manchester is in need of new lighting at one of its athletic fields, according to Kelly Baldwin, director of finance for the town.

They plan to use Program Open Space funding to replace lights at athletic field D. The wooden light poles would be replaced with steel, Baldwin said, and the non-functioning lights would get LED replacements.

“Over the years, equipment has failed,” she said.

Baldwin expects the lighting project would take up most of the Program Open Space funds, but if any remained she said the town would like to resurface Hailey’s Wish playground.

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The playground, named for a local girl with cerebral palsy, has equipment designed to be accessible to people with different abilities. However, Baldwin said the mulch surface that is there can be difficult to navigate in a wheelchair. The town would like to see it replaced with a rubberized surface, she said.

Railyard site in Mount Airy

Mount Airy hopes to use Program Open Space funds to take a step toward expanding its Rails to Trails path by purchasing a property that could be turned into green space.

The town hopes to acquire an approximately two-acre parcel at 1 S. Main St., surrounding the historic train station, according to Barney Quinn, town engineer. The goal is to, eventually, transform the property into a green space with an amphitheater and bicycle/pedestrian path running through it, according to a project description forwarded by Gina Campanile, director of community development.

The Rail Trail connects Watkins Park to Main Street, but the town hopes to expand it. The future plan is to connect Prospect Park to Watkins Park, the project description states.

Mount Airy hopes to receive state Program Open Space funds to purchase the railyard property, outlined in red, on South Main Street. The goal is to turn the area into a green space and connect it to the Rails to Trails path. The future Rails to Trails path is roughly highlighted in yellow and would connect to the existing trail, which is the gray path at the bottom of the photo.
Mount Airy hopes to receive state Program Open Space funds to purchase the railyard property, outlined in red, on South Main Street. The goal is to turn the area into a green space and connect it to the Rails to Trails path. The future Rails to Trails path is roughly highlighted in yellow and would connect to the existing trail, which is the gray path at the bottom of the photo. (Courtesy Photo)

Trail system upgrade in Sykesville

Parts of the Linear Trail System in Sykesville need to be widened and reconfigured after years of use, according to Mayor Ian Shaw.

“A lot of it over the years has deteriorated,” he said Wednesday.

Shaw’s hope is for Sykesville to become a more walkable community, and by rehabilitating parts of the trail, he hopes more people can use it. The plan is to use Program Open Space funds to widen and level out certain sections.

“Having that money available for us to do projects has been so critical,” Shaw said.

According to the town’s website, the Linear Trail stretches from Obrecht Road to the Patapsco River. Shaw said the trail has many legs that run through the town and in wooded areas.

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