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Carroll commissioners buy Manchester land for stormwater pond, spend nearly $1M to retrofit stormwater facility

Stormwater management topped the Board of Commissioners’ meeting agenda Thursday, with the board allocating nearly $1 million toward the retrofit of a stormwater facility at Shiloh Middle School and approving the purchase of three acres in Manchester to expand a stormwater pond.

The board awarded about $958,300 to W.F. Delauter & Son for a contract to retrofit an existing stormwater management facility, a shallow marsh, at Shiloh Middle in Hampstead. The county received five bids, four of which were greater than $1 million, according to the meeting agenda.

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The marsh, built in 2003, is no longer in compliance and needs to be brought up to state stormwater standards, county watershed management coordinator Janet O’Meara said. After the Carroll County Board of Education received a compliance letter in 2017, the county reached out to form a partnership, according to O’Meara.

“It’s a win-win for us being able to upgrade the facility, the school board having the facility brought into compliance, and DNR (Department of Natural Resources) with [having] the thermal impacts reduced," O’Meara said.

By completing the project, the county will get credit for 23 acres of impervious area stormwater management, according to O’Meara. The school board gave the county just under $200,000 for the project, O’Meara said, so the commissioners are actually contributing about $758,300.

It’s taken the county two years to get to this point because the marsh has a liner that made the design process a bit more complicated, according to O’Meara.

Gale Engles, bureau chief of Resource Management, said in an interview that the marsh facility sits behind the ball fields at the school and will be fenced off during construction. County staff will meet with the school board once more to go over the details of the construction, but no further approval is required, Engles said. She hopes the project will begin next month and be complete in four to six months.

In other stormwater-related business, the board agreed to pay $25,000 to purchase three acres from a Manchester woman to expand a stormwater management pond.

The Lambert property along Md. 30 (Hanover Pike) contains a stormwater pond, known as the Whispering Valley stormwater management facility, which was built in the 1980s, Engles said in the meeting. The easement was awarded to the Town of Manchester previously, but the land was never turned over to the town due to an oversight in the process, Engles said.

County staff first met with the property owner, Arbana Lambert, three years ago to discuss enlarging the pond to treat drainage in the area and to address the county’s requirements for its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination permit, according to Engles.

In 2018, the land was appraised at $10,000, Engles said. Since then, engineers designed a plan that would double the size of the existing pond facility, encompassing about an additional three acres, according to Engles. The current pond spans about two acres, the agenda states.

The plans also include adding a 20-foot storm drain easement along the western property line, and a 30-foot entrance/exit to access the facility, the agenda reads.

To expand the pond, dirt must be removed. At first, the county considered moving the dirt to Christmas Tree Park in Manchester, but that would cost more, Engles said. Lambert agreed to let the county leave the estimated 19,000 cubic yards of dirt elsewhere on the 8.6-acre parcel, saving the county approximately $200,000 in hauling costs, according to Engles. She also estimated it would have cost about $50,000 to prepare the land at the park to deposit the dirt, should the county had chosen that option.

“We’re saving a tremendous amount of money by keeping the dirt on site," Engles said.

Lambert requested $25,000 in exchange for the land, according to Engles.

Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, asked why the request was so much higher than the appraised price. Engles said she thought the $25,000 was fair considering all the changes that will be made to the land and that Lambert is allowing them to leave the dirt on site, saving the county a considerable amount of money.

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Once the project is complete, the stormwater pond will be turned over to the town for long-term maintenance, Engles said.

DNR awarded $375,000 toward construction costs, O’Meara said. Engles said in an interview she could not reveal the total cost of the project as it has not been put out to bid yet. Engles said she hopes the project will begin this fall and be complete in six months.

Additionally, the commissioners accepted approximately $78,000 from the Maryland Emergency Number Systems Board to enhance and expand security assets at the Emergency Communications Center. County staff declined to provide details of the improvements, citing security reasons. No county funds are required for the upgrade. Marathon Technology Solutions will conduct the work, according to the meeting agenda.

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