FairHillPlan

Fair Hill Enhancement Plans

Concept Plans under Consideration to Enhance Event Facilities in Racetrack Area at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area

FH_RaceTrack.JPGAn Open House was held in February 2017 to provide information to the public regarding proposed improvements to the Fair Hill Racetrack & Special Event Area, and a potential CCI 4-Star Event solicited by Fair Hill International. Robust attendance at the event reflected the community’s interest, curiosity, and concerns regarding the effort. Comments received from various individuals and interest groups were instructive and useful as the Department of Natural Resources works with partner agencies and organizations to revise conceptual plans and determine next steps. All ideas and concerns will be taken into account to ensure the proposed designs meet the goals of the project and align with Fair Hill’s Land Unit Plan and vision for the future. The Department and our partners thank all those who attended the open house, reviewed the conceptual designs, and provided thoughtful comment on this initiative and its potential impacts on Fair Hill, Cecil County, and the State of Maryland. We invite you to continue to provide comments as the preliminary engineering and design studies are completed and the project further takes shape over the coming months.

Goals and Vision for the Special Event Area

PURPOSE AND PRINCIPLES

  • Improve turf course and associated grounds, equestrian camping, and banquet/wedding facilities to continue hosting a wide variety of activities and events
  • Continue to focus the impact of larger events and more intense recreational uses into a designated area to minimize conflicts with traditional nature-based recreational pursuits
  • Provide opportunities for diverse activities and users ranging from small local community events to large international competitions
  • Promote investment in existing infrastructure identified for repairs and upgrades
  • Continue to function as an important partner in Maryland and Cecil County tourism

Opportunity for Public Comment

Comments and/or questions regarding the project can be submitted to the attention of Mary Owens, Chief of Planning, Maryland Park Service, 580 Taylor Avenue, E-3, Annapolis, MD 21401; via fax (410) 260-8191; or via email to FairHill.FacilityImprovements@maryland.gov

Please continue to monitor our Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area website for further updates. We are dedicated to providing a high quality experience for all of our visitors and appreciate your interest in this project.

Proposed Fair Hill Facility Improvement Plan

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently considering proposed improvements to the Racetrack facility and surrounding special events area at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area. The exact project scope remains to be defined, but conceptual designs include reconfiguration and widening of the turf racecourse, installation of show rings in the re-graded infield, renovation or replacement of the existing grandstands, and installation of an irrigation system for the turf course. The Fair Hill Foundation and the National Steeplechase Foundation (an MPS-affiliated organization) are working to raise private funds to match public funds recently allocated by the Maryland General Assembly in support of initial studies to determine the feasibility of these projects. DNR has engaged the Maryland Stadium Authority to procure a consultant to perform the preliminary engineering studies, to begin with an analysis of water needs and availability. The results of these studies will further inform and refine the conceptual plans and determine next steps. We will update this page with additional information on the proposed improvements as it becomes available.

See below for links to applicable pdf documents available at this time:


Background Information

In 2015, the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB) conducted a Horse Park System study, which identified Fair Hill NRMA as the potential “Field Event Venue” in a statewide system of equestrian facilities, and calls for hosting the type of outdoor field events already being held at Fair Hill in the existing equestrian footprint. The study identified the Prince George's County Equestrian Center as the indoor equestrian complex in the system.

Following the release of the study, the MHIB engaged stakeholder groups involved in the coordination of recurring equestrian events at Fair Hill to review the report and develop a course of action in response to the report's recommendations. Using the Horse Park System study as a reference, subcommittees were created and began to develop specific needs assessments, and shelve initiatives that were not considered directly applicable or feasible. The immediate needs identified included a possible pedestrian tunnel under Route 273 to improve traffic flow and parking for large events, improved internet access and live streaming for events, and reconfiguration of the racetrack to meet modern standards and allow for more regular use.

While this effort was underway, an unanticipated Request for Proposal (RFP) was received by Fair Hill International from the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) to host an annual 4-Star Event. Fair Hill International currently hosts a 3-Star event in October. A successful bid would make Fair Hill the host of one of only seven 4-Star Events in the world, and only the second in the country. The possibility of hosting an event of this magnitude and prestige presents a unique opportunity for Fair Hill to reinvest in our existing infrastructure, and bring significant economic benefits to the community of Cecil County and the State of Maryland.

Fair Hill International recently made the short list for venues under consideration by the USEF and is working in close partnership with the Maryland Sports Commission, MHIB, DNR, National Steeplechase Association and others to further refine the proposal and initiate preliminary engineering and design for the project components. The USEF site selection committee returned to Fair Hill for a follow-up visit in mid April; a final venue recommendation is expected sometime in early summer 2017.

Project Partners

  • Cecil County Fair
  • Cecil County Office of Economic Development/ Cecil County Tourism
  • Fair Hill Foundation
  • Fair Hill International
  • Fair Hill Races/Cecil County Breeders’ Fair
  • Fair Hill Training Center
  • Maryland Horse Industry Board
  • Maryland Sports Commission
  • The National Steeplechase Association and National Steeplechase Foundation
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