Soccer complex construction triggers complex reactions

by Jessica Young and Elizabeth Rajnik

For many Mt. Airy residents, Bartholows Road is a major artery between the rural 4-county community to the urban heart of Frederick County. The two-lane road is bordered by large neighborhoods and open farmland. While the 152 acres of farmland at 4502 Bartholows Road seems to have been sitting stagnant for many years, the land has actually seen a surprising amount of action behind the scenes.

After years of attempting to purchase acreage within their budget, FC Frederick, Frederick County’s most successful travel soccer club, has bought the farmland for development. The growing soccer club is building their dream soccer complex on the empty farmland in an attempt to expand soccer’s popularity in the area. 

By Fall 2020, FC Frederick plans will have four Bermuda grass fields, one pavilion and one bathroom facility. The final product will include the Bermuda grass fields, four turf fields, three bathroom facilities, three pavilions and sixty parking spots per field.

Despite the support for the addition to Mt. Airy, many nearby residents have attempted to block construction.

Coaches eager to elevate level of play with new fields

Chuck Hommey, part of the FC Frederick coaching staff, primarily trains athletes to become soccer stars and builds groups of children to become successful squads.  He is spearheading the construction.

While FC Frederick has just begun the first phases of construction, the organization’s staff is constantly planning for what the complex will have to offer in the years to come.

“We have lots of ambitions for the new complex, from making it not only a great soccer facility, but also a destination center for the club, the community and Frederick County as a whole. Our first and main goal is to get some really high level fields out there and go from there with club houses and other athlete support centers and different facilities of that nature,” said Hommey.

This addition to the club is a huge milestone, as it not only will enhance the professionalism of the organization, but also will attract more soccer players. The coaches hope that the fields centralized location will draw new players from Carroll, Howard and Montgomery County along with the flow of players they continue to have from Frederick and Washington County.

The club currently uses fields throughout Frederick County, including Urbana High School, Hood College, Ballenger Creek and Thomas Johnson Middle School, but with the central location of an FC Frederick complex, the parents, coaches and players will benefit from a less hectic practice location schedule.

The coaches ecstatic about the effect the complex will have on current and future soccer players. New and improved artificial turf fields and Bermuda grass fields, with high quality irrigation systems, will allow the athletes to train in rain or shine and have constant access to a high quality surface. 

“Well I think it will benefit the players in lots of ways. Having a quality service for everyone to play on is number one,” said Hommey. “We want to be a high level club that produces high level players that can go on and do great things at the college level and maybe even beyond that, and it starts with quality training.”

FC Frederick also plans to use the complex to host their own tournaments, showcases and community events, benefitting FC Frederick and the community.

Hommey also discussed how the land had previous plans to become a substation. FC Frederick hopes that they can utilize this land in a better way than the unsightly view of an electricity grid.

“We work with several of the community groups out there to keep them apprised of the happenings and the ongoing, things that are moving out there in the dirt work. I think the community is very appreciative of an organization like ours giving green space for kids to play,” said Hommey.

Athletes are ready to run, run, run 

FC Frederick trains athletes from age group 4U up until 19U. The addition of these turf and Bermuda grass fields to FC Frderick’s practice locations will be a major advantage, especially for the older and more competitive teams. 

Junior Adam Liston, an athlete on both the Linganore Boys Soccer Varsity team and the FC Frederick 02 CCL 2 team, is one of the few older players in the club who will be able to train on the new fields his senior year.

“I think they [the fields] will allow for players to have a better surface to play on. Turf fields allow for more productive practices, which will allow for us to be more competitive in games. Turf also allows us to play in any weather, since grass fields get ruined in the rain,” said Liston.

A large portion of FCPS high school players also play for an FC Frederick club team. These athletes having constant access to high-quality fields year round will also help train them for their high school seasons in the Fall, helping to increase the competitive competition among schools.

Surrounding community lukewarm about new neighbor 

Ricky Young and his family of four built their house 20 years ago and love their view of rolling farm hills; however, they have recently had their house up for sale due to their concern about the development of the area and its impact on their rural lifestyle.

“I don’t necessarily know that the soccer complex will affect the value of my property. I can only expect that it could because of my distaste for the traffic, loud noise, and bright field lights that are coming with it,” said Young. 

Young also said how he and the neighborhood had previously fought off an electric substation on that same property in 2012. “A soccer complex is definitely better than a substation, which is why the neighborhood and I didn’t try to fight the soccer complex,” said Young. 

Lisa Jarosinski was also a protester of both the substation and the soccer complex. Residing in the neighborhood across the street, her property will overlook the lower side of the complex.

Over time, Jarosinski has come to favor the fields and doesn’t have many concerns. “I will continue to see green grass and trees. The part of the property that is across from me is actually a part of a stream bed that will eventually be restored. FC Frederick plans to do some stream restoration and put in walking paths on the property. I feel that these soccer fields fit our community and the topography.”

Her son, Austin, plays soccer for Alliance Soccer Club out of Frederick, as well as for the Varsity Soccer team at LHS. 

“I think that the fields will be good. I am glad that nothing too industrial will be put in. As an Alliance player, I hope that my club will be able to use the fields on occasion,” said Austin.

The future of Frederick soccer shifts to Mt. Airy

Despite the concerns for the location of the complex and the current construction, the final product will be a win-win for most. Although there has been concern over the new complex’s impact on the rural community, the construction and loud noise will not last forever. The permanent view of grass fields and landscaping outweighs other types of development.

In time, FC Frederick’s soccer complex will blend into the everyday lives of the community and become a showpiece for Mt. Airy.