It has been six years this month since the city acquired Hargett Farm for $18 million, planning to build a regional park.
Since, city officials have done a lot of talking about if that is the best way to go. They see the more than $700,000 annual debt payment on the land, and they question if spending $50 million more for a regional park at that location, along Butterfly Lane on the west side of the city, is the right choice. They don’t have that money right now, anyway.
Many residents want the park, especially on that side of the city. They told city officials, first in a survey and then in meetings last summer, what kind of sports and recreation amenities they would want there.
Before the city moves forward, though, Mayor Randy McClement and some of the aldermen want to find out if the project is feasible and see a master plan for the site.
The city put out a request for proposals Wednesday for a westside regional park feasibility study. The responses to the city’s request are due by 3 p.m. March 20.
This is something a few of the aldermen had asked for in December when stating their budget priorities for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
McClement said he thought that request was fair.
Other land annexed into the city since Hargett Farm was purchased may also be well-suited for parkland, he said.
One example, he said, is the 302-acre Keller property along Yellow Springs, Rocky Springs and Walter Martz roads.
The money from the study will come from the city’s capital improvement program budget, said Roelkey Myers, the city’s deputy director of parks and recreation. The city put $226,437 into the project’s CIP fund in fiscal 2015.
The request for proposals outlines the responsibilities the company awarded the project will face. Overall, the company will study if the Hargett Farm is the best place for the park in Frederick, what should go there, what it will look like and how much it will cost.
Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak said Friday she is frustrated on how long it is taking for the city to start on the park.
But if the study can be done relatively quickly and if it makes the other aldermen feel more comfortable, then it’s a good thing, she said.
Nonprofits to receive extra funding for urgent projects
The city has more money than it thought it would this budget year for urgent housing and community needs.
That means four nonprofits are getting unexpected gifts this winter.
The city gets about $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development each year to spend on urgent housing needs, and it divvies out the money among nonprofits. Some of the awards are actually loans, repayable to the city. This year, the city received more repayments of previous awards than expected — a lot more.
The city has $283,750 more funding than expected, which must be spent pretty quickly, said Matt Davis, the city’s manager of comprehensive planning.
Staff has selected four nonprofit projects to fund: $215,500 will go to Community Living for acquiring property for clients with special needs; $14,500 will go to the Pro Bono Committee of the Frederick Bar Association for a pilot program to provide fair housing legal resources to income-eligible clients; $36,500 will go to the Frederick Community Action Agency for energy-efficient roof insulation; and $17,250 will go to the Asian American Center for an architectural study to determine space needed for a program for senior clients.
The city selected these projects after putting a note out to the nonprofits it often works with to see who could use the money quickly, Davis said.
These four nonprofits were the only ones that requested the money, he said.
The aldermen will vote to award the money at an upcoming public hearing.