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Construction begins on Veterans Memorial Park in Westminster; Deer Park to gain ballfields

Construction is underway for a new 32-acre park, named in honor of veterans, that could open at this site in Westminster as early as spring 2021. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)

Construction is underway for a new 32-acre park, named in honor of veterans, that could open in Westminster as early as spring 2021.

The Carroll County commissioners voted, 3-1, March 12 to award a $1 million contract to Conewago Enterprises to develop Westminster Veterans Memorial Park on Crest Lane. Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, stood opposed. Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, was absent from the meeting.

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The park is planned to have a walking trail, a picnic pavilion, a playground and open space areas, according to Jeff Degitz, county director of Recreation and Parks. He hopes the grand opening will occur next spring, Degitz wrote in an email.

Workers install fencing at the site of the Westminster Veterans Memorial Park off of Crest Lane Friday, May 8, 2020. (Dylan Slagle)

The first public meeting regarding the park was held in 2013, Degitz wrote, but there were delays due to changes in the project and reliance on Maryland’s Program Open Space funding, which was reduced in previous years.

People who live near the site also pushed back against the idea of ballfields, arguing it would increase traffic, Degitz told the commissioners.

“We got some pushback from the community regarding the athletic fields,” Degitz said. “We have a large number of residential homes that surround the park.”

Recreation and Parks decided to instead add ballfields to the existing Deer Park in Gamber, where 18 acres were bought for future expansion, according to Degitz. He said locals are supportive of a “passive” park on Crest Lane.

Wantz questioned whether residents will be content with Veterans Memorial Park now that the ballfields are out of the picture. He suggested people might protest during construction.

“Are you convinced, Jeff, that the community is at ease?” Wantz asked.

Degitz said he felt confident after speaking with the local homeowners association and residents.

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“They were considerably less happy when it included athletic fields,” Degitz said.

Wantz was not “completely convinced” he would not get complaints from residents. He said the picnic pavilion and veterans memorial will draw traffic to the area.

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, who is a veteran, said he prefers to see the county help veterans by providing services, rather than by building monuments. Nevertheless, he voted in favor of the park.

“We anticipate having some project funding towards the monument and also plan to investigate other supplemental funding and grants to help make it truly special,” Degitz wrote in an email. “As a part of that effort, we will be reaching out to the Carroll County Veterans Advisory Council for their input.”

Construction work has begun at the site of the Westminster Veterans Memorial Park off of Crest Lane Friday, May 8, 2020. (Dylan Slagle)

Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, suggested the memorial could speak to the historical significance of veterans in Carroll County.

The name for the park came about during a naming contest held years ago, according to Degitz. A memorial for veterans will be built, but it is not included in the preliminary construction of the park.

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After the vote on Westminster Veterans Memorial Park, the commissioners approved an $870,000 contract with Conewago Enterprises to build trails, two ballfields, paved roads and parking at Deer Park, which is near Deer Park Road and Maryland 32.

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