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Coppermine shows interest in buying former North Carroll High School

The site of the former North Carroll High School in Hampstead is pictured Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. Coppermine has approached the board of commissioners expressing interest in purchasing the property.
The site of the former North Carroll High School in Hampstead is pictured Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. Coppermine has approached the board of commissioners expressing interest in purchasing the property. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)

Coppermine is considering the former North Carroll High School for its 10th location.

At the Carroll County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday, business owner Alex Jacobs said Coppermine is interested in entering a competitive bid process to purchase the former school in Hampstead.

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Coppermine operates indoor and outdoor programs including soccer, dance, gymnastics, sports clinics, summer camps, pools and more across its nine locations in Baltimore, Hampstead, Owings Mills and Pikesville, according to its website. Coppermine took over the Four Seasons Sports Complex in Hampstead last year before it was set to close. Jacobs said they will have invested more than $4 million into that facility once the turf field is complete.

“We are definitely interested in talking with the folks at North Carroll High School and potentially expanding into that area as well,” Jacobs said at the meeting. “We have one in Carroll County and are looking to expand into this market as well with a few more locations, adding programs for kids, adults, active social leagues, rec councils and those sort of things.”

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North Carroll High School was one of three Carroll County Public Schools facilities closed at the end of the 2015-16 school year due to declining enrollment. Proposals for the sale of the building and grounds have been sought through COSTAR, a national commercial real estate marketing company, and on the county’s economic development department website for more than three years.

“This is a robust site that needs to be carefully planned out with the idea of community first and what can Coppermine offer this area with an additional location,” Jacobs wrote in an email when asked whether he would transform North Carroll into a sports complex like the Four Seasons.

The commissioners did not respond to Jacobs’ comment in the meeting. He called during the public comment period and was not scheduled to speak. Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, later said in an interview he believes a sports complex would be good for the area. North Carroll High School is in Weaver’s district.

“It would be positive, I think, for the community,” Weaver said. He acknowledged Carroll County schools are at a disadvantage when it comes to turf fields. Many important games are played outside the county, he said, and turf fields are like “gold” when the weather turns wet.

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Commissioners have floated other ideas to re-purpose the former high school. In 2018, Weaver proposed using North Carroll as a 9-1-1 training center. Former Commissioner Doug Howard suggested it become a charter school. The building currently houses the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office training academy.

Jacobs said he considered North Carroll earlier this year, but when the pandemic struck he waited to see how his existing facilities would fare before investing in a new location. He said Coppermine is interested in developing a comprehensive plan for North Carroll, getting input from the community and finding out what potential the site has. In the long-term, Jacobs is interested in buying rather than leasing, but is open to possibilities, he wrote.

A county spokesperson, Chris Winebrenner, confirmed Thursday that North Carroll is still listed for sale, but she declined to discuss ongoing negotiations with prospective buyers. “All reasonable offers will be considered,” she wrote in an email.

Coppermine is not the first sports-related business to express interest in North Carroll. Capital Sports Group, based in Baltimore, submitted a proposal to buy the building and grounds to transform it into a sports complex with turf fields. The possible sale was scheduled to be discussed at the commissioners June 25 meeting but was removed from the agenda and postponed to an undetermined date. Winebrenner said the discussion was put off so county staff could prepare a more thorough presentation. The sale of North Carroll has not been on the commissioners’ agenda since then, and Winebrenner did not indicate Thursday when it might be presented to the board.

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