A potential buyer is interested in turning the former North Carroll High School facility into a sports complex.
Capital Sports Group, based in Baltimore, has submitted a proposal to buy the building and grounds of the former school in Hampstead, according to the Board of County Commissioners’ June 25 meeting agenda. The agenda was later altered to reschedule this discussion to a future meeting that has yet to be determined.
“In order to provide the most thorough presentation regarding a possible contract on North Carroll High School, the staff is postponing this agenda item from Thursday, June 25, 2020 to a future date,” county spokesperson Chris Winebrenner wrote in an email Wednesday.
A price for the property was not listed on the agenda, but states the buyer seeks to develop a sports complex including outdoor turf fields.
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, the agenda reads.
The commissioners may vote to approve the contract of sale Thursday, though whether they will is not certain. Athan Sunderland, CEO of Capital Sports Group, is scheduled to appear at the meeting. Sunderland did not comment on this article Monday.
In interviews Monday, commissioners expressed interest in the possibility of selling the property.
“Initially, it looks very good,” Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, said of the proposal.
Frazier said he liked the idea of the former school being used to facilitate sports in the community. He acknowledged the sale would also relieve the county of paying to maintain the building and grounds — something on Commissioner Eric Bouchat’s mind as well.
Bouchat, R-District 4, said he would like to rid the county of its fiscal obligation to the site and see the former school used to benefit the local economy. However, he recognized that some Carroll residents in District 2, represented by Commissioner Richard Weaver, have a deep connection to the place.
Thus far, Weaver said, he has not seen a downside to the proposal. He believes a sports complex would benefit the North Carroll community.
“This would be, I think, a big boost to the economy of Hampstead,” Weaver said. “This has been a long time coming, and I’m really excited we can do something positive for the community.”
Weaver hopes to hold an in-person town hall, with coronavirus pandemic restrictions taken into account, after a vote does take place so that locals and Capital Sports Group can get to know one another and ask questions.
“That community really took it hard [when the school closed], and I don’t blame them,” Weaver said.
“There’s a relationship of North Carroll High School with the community of Hampstead that should never be lost,” Rothstein said. “I am in support of moving forward with the sale of North Carroll as long as it’s the appropriate sale with everyone on board.”
Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said there are two main factors he’s considering heading into a possible vote Thursday.
“In these very challenging fiscal times it remains important to find an alternate usage to alleviate our costs to maintain the building, and secondly it is doing no one any good for this building to continue to for the most part sit empty,” Wantz wrote in a message. “A viable new usage to enhance the town is critically needed.”
Hampstead Mayor Chris Nevin said “there’s a lot of moving parts there,” but the town would be in favor of a revamping of the North Carroll facility.
“As long as the building itself is going to continue to be used for sporting events and community events, and there’s a plan for the use of the auditorium,” Nevin said. “We’re open to how the former classroom space gets used. The [Carroll County] Sheriff’s Office has always been part of that discussion, and we would anticipate that they continue to be actively involved [as a] tenant in that building for the foreseeable future. And the use of the fields for sports is always being contemplated as well.”