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January 7, 2011

What to do with the Hargett Farm?

Joe Charlebois

The use of Hargett Farm property off Butterfly Lane is the subject of a survey put out by the City of Frederick for both residents and others who have an interest in the city’s business.


The city is soliciting ideas for the use of the property with all ideas being considered.


During the Holtzinger Administration, the city chose to capture the largest parcel of open space within the city limits by purchasing the farm with an $18 million bond that pays approximately $700,000 in interest per annum.


Former Mayor Holtzinger, whose administration foresaw the use of the property as a regional park, purchased the property with the idea that a number of soccer fields and possibly even a swimming center could be built on sight. He felt it would help redevelop Frederick’s west side and provide much needed recreational facilities that are lacking on a large scale in the city and beyond.


The concept seems to be modeled after other parks in the region which have been extremely successful.


The South Germantown Recreational Park is just one of those parks. It is substantially larger in size compared to the Hargett Farm. It boasts nearly 700 acres of soccer fields, includes a stadium that is home to the Washington Freedom – Washington’s professional women’s soccer club. It has an indoor swim facility, splash zone, miniature golf, baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, hiking trails, biking trails and an archery range.


I am still opposed to the use of the Hargett property for a regional park on the scale of the South Germantown complex that tries to do everything. There just isn’t enough room. I don’t believe that the size of the property will allow for the full scale development that would compete for tournaments that are currently held at the South Germantown Recreational Park. And trying to do too much on the land would be counterproductive.


Along with limitations on the amount of land available, ease of access to the park is cumbersome at best. It is a maze trying to negotiate all the on and off ramps twists and turns that it takes to get to Butterfly Lane. Have you ever tried to give directions to Dutch’s Daughter?


Butterfly Lane and Jefferson Pike would need to be substantially enhanced and rerouted to handle the volume of traffic. The intersection that exists at the confluence of these major roads – even with the absence of St. John’s Catholic Prep traffic – would be brought to a standstill. It is already an extremely congested intersection with very few options for detours.


If a regional park is to materialize, it must be focused. Whether that is a premiere swimming facility – where high schools and colleges could expand their swimming and diving teams, not reduce them – or a premiere soccer complex that focused on soccer only.


As pointed out this is 148 acres of open space and it is an asset to the citizens of the city. It should not be sold for a housing development as this is an extremely congested area already and that would minimize green space even further.


It’s an exciting proposition to add a top-notch recreational facility that would be able to draw business from outside the immediate vicinity and benefit local businesses, especially those on the west side of town, all providing more outlets for city residents.


Good luck Mayor Randy McClement. I hope that this project works out as well as is possible.


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