Where to put the new jail ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

October 27, 1992

Anne Arundel residents have made it clear: The best place for a new jail is anywhere but near where they live. Unfortunately, there are no deserted islands off the county's estuarine coast suitable for a fortress prison. It is a foregone conclusion that some citizens will be angry and upset tomorrow night, when the Detention Center Siting and Alternative Sentencing Task Force recommends a jail site.

Now that it has heard from residents, the task force has to look beyond the objections of individuals and choose a location that makes sense for the county as a whole. Based on the available information, it appears that the Bernard J. Fischer tract in Crownsville is the best site.

Three other prospective sites -- the Schramm turkey farm in Pasadena, the Darley Pumphrey property in Severna Park and the Charles County sand and gravel property in Davidsonville -- have serious problems.

The Schramm site sits in a dense residential area of 1,400 homes in a half-mile radius. The Darley Pumphrey property is surrounded by 1,100 homes; only 50 of 121 acres are usable, and those 50 acres are bisected by wetlands. The Charles County site sits on the Patuxent River, includes wetlands and is too far from courthouses in Annapolis and Glen Burnie.

The Fischer property has little going against it. The site is big enough -- 159 acres, with 70 acres usable. A steep knoll in the middle of the property could be used to screen the jail from Crownsville Road. The location -- 7 miles to Annapolis, 15 to Glen Burnie -- is the best of any site proposed so far, meaning lower prisoner transportation costs. Development costs are reasonable at $3.1 million. And, only 200 homes fall within a half-mile radius.

Even if the task force chooses the Fischer site, expect County Executive Robert R. Neall to continue pushing for the jail to be built at the former Army depot property on New Ordnance Road in Glen Burnie. This site has one big plus -- the county owns it -- but bigger minuses, including environmental problems, a long drive to the Annapolis Circuit Courthouse and the fact that North County has borne its share of unpopular projects.

The task force has rejected New Ordnance Road. So should the county. The Fischer property appears to be a far better choice.

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