County Plans Vote After Sports Complex Public Hearing

BERLIN – Area residents can share their thoughts on a sports complex proposed near Stephen Decatur High School at a public hearing Tuesday.

The Worcester County Commissioners will host a public hearing at Stephen Decatur High School at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19, regarding plans to buy 95 acres adjacent to the school for a sports complex.

“The main purpose for the sports complex, which is included in the FY23-FY27 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), is to provide county residents and guests with more recreational programming and event opportunities by providing additional field space,” a news release from the county reads. “Conceptual plans for this project include multi-purpose fields, with restrooms, parking, and concessions for recreation and travel sports. Additional park amenities would include walking trails, ponds, and a playground.”

County officials have talked about a potential sports complex for years, with studies indicating such a facility could result in as much as a $24 million economic impact. Ocean City has been a strong proponent of the project and is using social media to encourage citizens to attend Tuesday’s public hearing to voice their support. An accompanying website, www.WorcesterFamilies4Sports.com, features testimonials in support of a sports complex as well as answers to frequently asked questions and even a form letter of support to email to the commissioners. The website also includes links to the studies conducted by the Maryland Stadium Authority.

“…both the county and the city contracted the Maryland Stadium Authority/Crossroads Consulting for the purpose of the development of a sports complex,” the website reads. “In addition, the internal staff of Worcester County … reviewed and recommended the project.”

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In response to the question of whether the project will raise county taxes, as suggested by detractors, the website states it will not.

“All studies have indicated that the facility will pay for the operations on an annual basis,” the website reads. “It will provide over and above economic value as well. … The space would compete with any facility within our geographic region.”

The commissioners will vote Tuesday following the public hearing on whether to move forward with the land purchase. Decisions tied to the sports complex, including approval of the county’s CIP and approval of a bond bill, have been made with split 4-3 votes from the commissioners. Those in opposition have expressed concern regarding the unanswered questions and whether Program Open Space funding can offset the expense.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.