When she was Havre de Grace City Manager, Mary Ann Lisanti's desk was home to studies on Lilly Run and a replacement for James R. Harris Stadium.
Some 10 years later, County Councilwoman Lisanti is excited that her work could come to fruition. The Harford County Council passed the 2012 fiscal year budget at last week’s County Council meeting, including funding for two capital projects in Havre de Grace. Monday night, the Board of Education could vote to accept the funding to finish what Lisanti started.
The Board of Education is expected to pass two capital projects, funded by the County Council and County Executive David Craig. One is a $1 million project to finish Harris Stadium—primarily, the construction of a field house that will contain permanent bathrooms and a snack bar. The other is a $250,000 feasibility study to explore the replacement of the aging two-building Havre de Grace High School campus.
“It’s exciting. It’s necessary. For a lot of Havre de Grace people, it’s about time,” Lisanti said. “It’s about time for once, our priorities were able to get funded.”
It was understood by the County Executive and members of the County Council earlier this year that Dr. Robert Tomback would include the two capital projects in the school board’s budget. However, the budget the County Executive and County Council received from Tomback did not include those Havre de Grace initiatives.
Last month, County Executive David Craig told Patch: “I support it 100 percent. I told the superintendent I’m going to put the money in the budget for a feasibility study for Havre de Grace High School. I believe it needs a complete tear-down and rebuild.”
Craig voiced support for an engineering, environmental or a performing arts magnet, suggesting performing arts made the most sense. But first, he argued a new building should be constructed.
The passing of the funding for the feasibility study by the County Council was the first big step.
Lisanti wrote a letter to the Board of Education May 11 to appeal for support of the capital projects.
Among the comments in a multi-page document, Lisanti offered:
“The high school field project is a long over-due mission of facility parity. It is only fair and equitable for HHS to be afforded the same level of facilities that we fund at all other high schools in the County. I have been a champion of this project for nearly a decade and need your support to see it to completion.
Additionally, the field project is a small part of a larger multi-million dollar citywide flood control and sediment reduction project known as the Lilly Run Improvement Project. Lilly Run is a Chesapeake Bay tributary that runs through a large portion of Havre de Grace including Board of Education property at the Elementary, Middle and High Schools. The scope of the high school feasibility study brings all of these elements together into one Master Plan.”
A 2008 plan by URS—the engineering firm contracted to study Lilly Run’s impact on Havre de Grace and to propose solutions to the issue of flooding—shows Lilly Run flowing into a “new flood control feature” on what is now the field hockey field behind the Harris Stadium grandstand. A new boardwalk would lead from the tennis courts over the flood control feature to left field of what is currently a practice baseball field between the high school and middle school. A new multipurpose field would be created between that baseball field and the middle school.
That is part of a larger plan.
Tonight, the Board of Education will decide the fate of the short-term plans: $250,000 for a study on the potential replacement of Havre de Grace High School, as well as $1 million toward a field house to complete Harris Stadium.
The Board of Education will also come to a decision on contract awards for two projects at Havre de Grace High School: the initial phase of the HVAC system replacement, as well as the chiller replacement.
The meeting—held at the A.A. Roberty Building—is called to order at 6:30 p.m., and following recognitions, Public Comment will be held at 6:45 p.m.