Carroll's Recreation and Parks Department had hoped to use land at the Northern Landfill for a public shooting range, but the state police got there first.

The county apparently cannot use a section of the landfill for a shooting range because state troopers use the area for target practice, the Recreation and Parks Board learned from its capital budget subcommittee Wednesday night.

The committee also ranked the new Sykesville park project its first priority for fiscal 1993. And Bob Panek, a member of the Equestrian Recreation Council, told the board that county horse groups have agreed to a new South Carroll site for a show facility.

The subcommittee recommended that the county purchase land for a shooting range, possibly adjacent to the landfill. But the landfill site was questioned by three nearby residents who attended the meeting at the County Office Building.

Edgar Whittington, who said he recently moved intoa new development off Gorsuch Road behind the landfill, said the noise from police firearms practice is annoying now but the prospect of a public range was disturbing.

He said most people in the 35-home Tannery Manor development have moved in since spring, and much of thesound has been deadened by foliage.

Still, state police can be heard shooting during the day, said a resident who lives about three-quarters of a mile from the current range.

"But they don't shoot continuously every day," Whittington said. "And in the fall and winter, it would really be loud."

Parks board members said the public range was only in the initial planning phase and said a hearing would be held before such a facility is constructed. The capital budget subcommittee also recommended deferring the $20,000 needed to develop the shooting range until fiscal 1994, since land likely would not be available when the 1993 budget year begins next July 1.

"I think the unfortunate thing is, we're going to get complaints no matter where we want to put this," said John P. Little, director of the Recreation and Parks Department.

The planned Sykesville Park would include seven baseball diamonds and other multipurpose fields, replacing the seven diamonds that will be lost when O'Brecht Road is reconstructed in several years. The project is new on the capital budget plan because the county recently struck a 50-year deal with the state to lease nearly 100 acres of land for $1 a year.

"You can't wait for the road to go through to start this project," board member Earl Hersh said.

The project is estimated to cost slightly more than $1 million over three years. The committee recommended using bond money to pay for the project.

It would be the second most expensive construction project in county recreation and parks history, and would serve a similarfunction to the most expensive, the Carroll County Sports Complex north of Westminster, as the primary regional park in the southern end of Carroll.

The Equestrian Committee already had been authorized to spend about $5,000 as part of a self-help program to build a show ring on land at the proposed Union Mills Reservoir. But the original site there couldn't be developed because of wetlands, and a second site would have required cutting a stand of trees.

The new site, nearthe planned Gillis Falls Reservoir in South Carroll, is flatland andcould, in time, be developed into a regional equestrian center. Thatwas part of the original plan at Union Mills, but two bids submittedin early 1990 by private developers did not meet the Equestrian Committee's standards.

So, Panek said, this site will be developed more slowly, starting with the show ring. While some county money will be used, all of the labor and some money will be donated by county horse enthusiasts.

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