Ball field weighed as new town hall site


An old Crofton baseball diamond may become the address for a new town hall.

Town Manager Barbara K. Swann wants officials to consider the 2.24-acre Albert O. Hardy Field off Davidsonville Road as the site for town offices once the Crofton athletic complex opens in 1998.

Town hall, on Crofton Parkway, is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and residents with disabilities have had trouble attending town functions.

The building houses offices for 11 employees of the special tax district, including its five-member police force. The two-level structure has no ramps or elevators for wheelchairs and no bathrooms accessible to the handicapped. The Crofton Civic Association and at least a dozen other community groups regularly meet in the building.

"We should look at all possibilities," Ms. Swann said.

Developing Hardy Field is the latest option proposed in two months of discussions of how the town could comply with the ADA, which requires full access to jobs and services for the disabled.

Town officials are scrambling to make town hall accessible because January was the deadline for state and local governments to have ADA compliance plans.

Members of the Crofton Civic Association board adopted a plan in April. They moved their monthly meetings from town hall to accessible sites such as the Crofton Country Club and the Crofton office of O'Conor Piper and Flynn. Board and town officials also have agreed to meet residents at such accessible sites as the Crofton library or in people's homes.

The ADA committee has submitted three proposals to the board, two of which suggest spending $60,000 to $100,000 to modify town hall.

Board members are looking closely at the third proposal -- selling town hall and building a new one -- because the cost would be about the same as modifying the current building. Town hall could be sold for about $185,000, and a new one could be built for about $240,000, said John Maloney, ADA committee chairman.

The committee has been looking at two adjacent lots the developer of Crofton Woods donated in the early 1980s as a site for a new town hall. But board members are concerned that the lots, totaling about a half acre, would be too small.

Board members seemed to be receptive to the Hardy Field proposal because that property is big enough to permit the construction of an addition, such as an auditorium or gymnasium, and wouldn't force the board to buy land.

"I don't think two years ago you could have done this. But now is the time to think about it and plan it," said Edwin F. Dosek, president of the civic association board. "It all makes sense."

Hardy Field was one of the first things Crofton developer W. Hamilton Crawford built after the community was established in 1964. The field, named for Crofton's first town manager, is smaller than regulation baseball diamonds and is used only by the Under-11 baseball league, said Tom Shelly, president of the Crofton Athletic Council.

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