Donor offers 14 acres for recreation


A new private foundation is trying to secure 14 acres along Route 97 to build playing fields and other recreational facilities for the Union Mills-Silver Run community.

"We are negotiating with an individual who has offered to donate the property," said Marty Schless, president of the nonprofit Silver Run-Union Mills Community Charitable Foundation Inc.

Six other residents serve on the board of directors of the 2-month-old organization.

It plans to develop the parcel in phases over a span of about two years.

The as-yet undetermined cost of installing the fields would be offset by individuals in the community, Mr. Schless said.

Electricians, plumbers and others have volunteered, and a local construction company has offered to help move the dirt, he said.

Mr. Schless said the potential donor of the property has requested that his identity and the location of the land be kept confidential until a deal is final.

"I'm optimistic. We had been approached by a few others [offering to donate land], but this was such a nice piece of property we decided to limit ourselves to negotiating [for this parcel]."

Mr. Schless, who works for a charity in Baltimore, said the nearest recreation center -- the Carroll County Sports Complex -- can't accommodate everyone in the community. He said there is a need for more.

"Our programs are growing. We have close to 500 kids on 30 teams," Mr. Schless said. He said the complex's five ball fields are used by the Charles Carroll Recreation Council's baseball, softball and soccer programs, the county's men's softball league and by outside leagues for weekend softball tournaments.

Mr. Schless, a past president of the Charles Carroll Recreation Council and former commissioner of its baseball and softball teams, envisions a new center on the 14 acres that would offer fishing and ice skating in addition to fields for baseball and softball.

The tract under negotiation is near water, he said.

He wants to offer activities for people of all ages and eventually would like to include space for horseshoe pits and a community center, which other organizations could rent for meetings.

"However, use of the facility would be free for the youth programs affiliated with the [Charles Carroll] recreation council," said.

The 44-year-old Union Mills resident has garnered some community support and plans to contact local businesses to raise the money to build and operate the facility.

Funding could also come from individual contributions and federal and state grants, he said. The foundation would be able to apply for land acquisition and recreation grants once it obtains the land.

"We hope we can work out an alliance with the county, that they might help us in some fashion with their expertise in developing these kinds of facilities," Mr. Schless said.

"We had some preliminary discussions with [county Recreation and Parks Director] Richard Soisson last year. He helped us draw up some plans for a piece of property we were looking at [then.]"

Mr. Soisson said the county would be glad to work with Mr. Schless during the design phase.

Mr. Schless said the foundation will buy land if it cannot secure a donor.

But a donor would be the ideal situation, because then contributions and grants could be used for the construction and operation of the center. Mr. Schless estimated it would cost between $30,000 and $50,000 a year to operate the center.

The foundation's board members are Rodger N. Goodacre, a lawyer in Union Mills; Rainey Taylor, a community activist and past president of the Charles Carroll Elementary PTA; Jim Corns, a salesman; Randy Bachtel, a site planner; Mary Bowie, a homemaker; and Julian E. Hall, pastor of St. Mary's Church of Christ on Mayberry Road.

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