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100-acre park envisioned for growing North Carroll recreation But $4 million over 5 years may be hard for county to fund NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro


North Carroll recreation volunteers have a grand plan to make it easier for children to play sports in the growing Hampstead-Manchester area: They want to build a 100-acre park.

Ball fields and other sports facilities are overcrowded now and can't accommodate all the children who want to play in leagues, they say.

"It's real tough when you're sitting at a registration table and you have to turn a kid away. And it's happening more often," said Stephen A. Ford of Upperco, who helped the North Carroll Recreation Council write a five-year plan to expand programs.

The council asked the county for almost $4 million in the next five years to build more ball fields and the new park, which would have fields for various sports, tennis courts, a multipurpose building, tot lots and a pond. Construction would begin in 1996, according to the plan.

"As we envision it, this is the recreational facility for the 21st century in northern Carroll County," the volunteers wrote in the report.

The county's Recreation and Parks Board is considering the request, which will go before the Planning Commission and the county commissioners later this year.

It won't be easy to get that much money. Other recreation councils have made requests, too, and county money for capital projects is limited. Carroll will spend about $1.2 million on recreation capital projects in the current fiscal year, Recreation and Parks Director Richard J. Soisson said.

"There is lots of growth in North Carroll, just like there is in other parts of Carroll. And that's where we run into problems," he said.

North Carroll volunteers have a good chance of receiving part of the money they want, Mr. Soisson said.

The 42-page plan is impressive, he said. "Overall, it's an excellent plan."

The North Carroll Recreation Council is the first to present a five-year capital project plan, he said. His staff is encouraging other recreation councils also to look ahead.

North Carroll Recreation Council President Kenneth A. Kiler of Manchester said council members decided now is the time to make the long-term request.

"The recreation council decided it was time to actively pursue it," he said.

James Deiaco, who lives outside Hampstead, chaired a six-member committee that worked for two months to write the report, Mr. Ford said. The group asked for input from various sports organizations and compiled charts and graphs of

statistics that show the area's growth.

"We searched for a lot of information. We tried to do whatever we could to impress upon the board that we really needed help," Mr. Ford said.

The report shows that population in the North Carroll area is expected to be about 28,700 by the year 2010, up from about 19,000 in 1985. It also says the number of recreation programs offered by the council has doubled from 1985 to the present and that program participation has increased almost 15 percent per year since then.

Participation in certain youth sports is increasing quickly, the report says. In 1989, 100 youths played in Manchester baseball leagues; this year, 400 youths are playing. In 1987, 47 youths played in Manchester softball leagues; this year, 155 are playing.

Soccer, Babe Ruth baseball, lacrosse and football leagues also are growing, the report says.

Fields at Christmas Tree Park and the adjoining Lion's Club Park in Manchester and at area schools are strained, Mr. Ford said. The last capital improvement project in the area was in the early 1980s when new fields were developed at North Carroll Middle School, he said.

Here are details about the proposed five-year plan:

* First year -- fiscal 1995, which begins July 1, 1994 -- develop an empty field behind North Carroll Middle as a 90-foot baseball and soccer field and install lights, dugouts, backstops, fences and soccer goals.

The field would be used primarily by youths ages 13 to 15 and would be available for middle school use during school hours and for high-school baseball practices. The estimated cost is $315,000.

* Second year -- fiscal 1996, which begins July 1, 1995 -- develop land at a future elementary school site at Route 30 and Lineboro Road for four fields to be used for softball, Little League baseball, soccer, football and lacrosse. The estimated cost is $393,000.

* Third year -- fiscal 1997, which begins July 1, 1996 -- buy 100 acres for a community park with six baseball and softball fields rTC and several fields that could be used for soccer, lacrosse and football.

The park also would have a fitness course, bike paths and an equestrian trail. The estimated cost is $1.3 million.

* Fourth year -- fiscal 1998, which begins July 1, 1997 -- grade, seed, develop fields and install lights at the park. The estimated cost is $994,000.

* Fifth year -- fiscal 1999, which begins July 1, 1998 -- build a multipurpose recreation building at the park with bathrooms, concession stands, storage space, offices and a small gymnasium. The estimated cost is $900,000.

"Most of this probably will go into the [county's] five-year plan," Mr. Soisson said. But money for all of it probably will not be available, he said.

The chances of North Carroll receiving $4 million "are not very good in the next five years," he said. "But the chances of getting part of that are better."

Projects listed in the first and second years of the plan are likely to be funded in the next five years, he said. These projects would help ease crowding, he added.

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