Jeff Degitz, director of Carroll County Recreation & Parks, speaks about a land acquisition request before the commissioners Sept. 19, 2019.
Jeff Degitz, director of Carroll County Recreation & Parks, speaks about a land acquisition request before the commissioners Sept. 19, 2019. (Mary Grace Keller)

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners has moved to spend $1 million to buy a 145-acre site north of Taneytown for a future parks project.

The board Thursday unanimously approved the $1,000,035 purchase at 5125 Francis Scott Key Highway. The land includes about 50 acres of woods and 3,400 feet of Piney Creek, said Jeff Degitz, director of recreation and parks.

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“There’s a huge area in the county, west of Littlestown Pike and north of Middleburg Road, where we have no county parks," Degitz said at the board meeting. "This is something that was identified in the 2017 land preservation park and recreation plan, and acquiring this property would go a long way towards addressing that need.”

The county will use $900,000 of its Program Open Space funds from the state to help pay for the property, according to Degitz. The open space money may only be used for park land acquisition, and the county receives these funds annually, though the number is not consistent, Degitz said.

Commissioners asked Degitz what the plan is for the property.

“There’s a variety of things that work very well on that property. Typically, we don’t go too far down that path until we start to have some public meetings and public discussions," Degitz said.

The outcome will also depend on funding, according to Degitz. The open space funds are simply to buy the land. More money would be needed to develop it, Degitz said.

Degitz described the land as flat like a “tabletop,” which would be “very easy” to develop into athletic fields, he said. Another possibility could be building a camping site, Degitz suggested, what with the land’s proximity to historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, asked if the land could be used for public hunting access after the county has bought it but before the land is developed. Degitz said that could be a possibility and also suggested renting part of the land out for farming during that interim period.

Bouchat also suggested a hiking trail.

Wantz said buying the property now will help the county in the future.

“By being able to purchase this now at this price we’re ahead of the game because I doubt whether things are going to go down in price any time soon,” Wantz said.

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, echoed Degitz, saying it would be best to get input from the community before deciding how to develop the land. Degitz did not mention any plans in the near future to schedule a public meeting to gather input.

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