There has been a lot of open discussion lately about how far behind our county has fallen as regards to our recreational facilities as compared to those of our neighboring counties.

As you all know, this has been a pet peeve of mine since I began writing this column so many years ago.


One of the first columns I wrote about turf fields in 2006 was after we had played a soccer tournament in Columbia at Covenant Park, with winds and driving rain, while tournaments up and down the East Coast were canceled because of the same conditions. I spoke about the county recreation games that were allowed to play in that storm but in so doing destroyed the fields as they dug up the grass through the muddy conditions.

I proposed beginning to phase in turf fields in each of the county’s high school fields to share between those high school athletics and the community they serve. Seemed like a simple solution at the time.

A year later I acknowledged that the problem was even deeper than just getting a turf field for sports like football, soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse, but that trying to find gym time was equally as difficult for the winter sports like basketball and volleyball.

“Try to arrange a basketball or volleyball practice during the heart of the winter season and you’ll surely get a taste of what many of the administrators of those sports programs deal with on an intimate basis. Twenty years ago, my friends and I could show up on a whim in a number of gyms, throw $5 into the hat and play two hours of basketball on a Sunday morning.”

Carroll County government staff is seeking one resident from each commissioner district to form a task force and assess where a community events center would best be located in the county, and what resources can go toward its development.

A little while later, Baltimore County opened up yet another new recreation complex and put it right on the border with Carroll County, almost as if to rub it in our faces. I was invited and attended the grand opening of the Reisterstown Sports Complex where, “on the new indoor soccer/lacrosse field, there was a soccer exhibition … on the other side of the new 58,000 square foot facility was a 200x85 foot NHL ice rink complete with a brand new Zamboni machine, lighted scoreboards and ice-cold aluminum stands. Packed into the ice rink in standing room only fashion were the students and families of both Calvert Hall and Loyola High School as the two Baltimore parochial schools battled for the Brother Andrew Cup.”

I’ve written many more columns since then practically begging our county leaders to at least research and consider investing in a long-term plan that would bring us into the current century of the recreation facilities that we offer to our citizens.

But it’s gone way past time to put a turf field at Powelson Field at North Carroll High School as a band-aid to our county’s continued deficiencies.

A turf field there would be a welcome addition to a community who is still upset at the loss of their school and a proper use to the field who bears the name of a Carroll County sports legend.

But it can only be a start of a much longer-term process.

What about the southern part of the county that boasts some of the largest recreation programs we have to offer? And the county seat here in Westminster, where the dense population places a strain on all of our facilities?

How about the outlying communities like Union Bridge, Taneytown, and Silver Run where families often have to drive a good distance to get to a recreation facility?

No, I don’t think a patchwork approach will suffice to get us to where we need to be to have the facilities that will make new families want to move out to “God’s Country” to raise their kids. We need a grand approach that will be all encompassing and address the needs of all of our communities and recreation councils and throughout all of the sports’ seasons.

This needs to be a concerted effort by the county leaders, business owners, Carroll County Public Schools, recreation councils and private citizens to make this work. We may even need to — and I hate to even bring this up — raise taxes slightly to help pay for facilities that we can all enjoy.

Blandair Park in Columbia boasts more turf fields than we have across the county combined.


For me, with my youngest wrapping up his youth sports participation and graduating high school this year, I’ll expect little personal benefit from this move but it’s time we took some action as we continue to watch our dollars roll out of this county to tournaments and leagues in Howard and other neighboring counties.

It’s time to build a facility that maybe doesn’t meet the standards of Manheim’s SpookyNook facility, that is basically a type of Sports Nut Disney World, but something much closer to that than our current situation.

A facility that not only will serve the needs of our citizens but also attract teams from other counties to come spend their money in Carroll.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

It’s time.