1,000 protest proposed site of new jail Residents oppose Schramm farm location

October 22, 1992|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

An emotional crowd of more than 1,000 people jammed the Glen Burnie High School auditorium last night to make it clear to the county that they do not want a jail in their neighborhood.

The forum was a public hearing of the Detention Center Siting and Alternative Sentences Task Force to allow residents who live near the four proposed jail sites to air their views.

And judging from the crowd's raucous reaction, which included cheering, standing ovations, whistles and occasional boos and jeers, most people want the jail to be built anywhere but near them.

Most of the speakers, and most of the audience, appeared to be from the Pasadena area, the location of the Schramm farm on Mountain Road, one of the four sites being considered.

Emma Schramm, who owns the farm, received one the loudest reactions of the evening.

"Mom is 87, and it would be extremely unfair to ask her to move off the farm," Ms. Schramm said of her mother. "If you throw us off the farm -- and believe me, it would come down to that -- I have no idea where we would go and what we will do . . . I was born here and I would like to die here."

She presented a petition with more than 8,600 signatures of area residents who oppose the Schramm farm site. "We got these in less than three weeks," she said.

Gary D. Courtney, representing the Deerfield Homeowners Association, said, "The thought of a detention center going in the middle of a residential community. . . . It's nuts . . ."

There are about 1,450 homes within a half-mile of the site, county officials said.

Del. W. Ray Huff threatened legal action if the Schramm site is chosen. "As long as we live in Pasadena . . . we will fight and take this to the courts," the Democrat said.

State Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Brooklyn Park Democrat, warned that with the present fiscal situation, the county may not be able to count on the state to fund half of the proposed $85 million jail.

The county is also considering sites in Crownsville, Davidsonville and Pumphrey. The task force rejected an 85-acre site on Ordnance Road, which is favored by County Executive Robert R. Neall, because a soil test done for Coca-Cola Co. several years ago showed higher than normal levels of carcinogens.

Martin Zehner Jr., representing the Davidsonville Area Civic Association, said that the site in his community is inappropriate because such a large facility would adversely affect the nearby Patuxent River.

Besides, he pointed out, a recent survey showed that only two inmates out of more than 600 had a Davidsonville address. Therefore, the jail should be built at one of the other three sites because "they are close to more densely populated areas . . . where inmates come from."

Task force president Nicholas Demos said the group would use what they heard last night as one factor in making its decision. It will also consider location, the amount of nearby development and the cost.

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