Annapolis make its case not to be site for new jail

November 19, 1992|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Annapolis city officials took their turn at the podium last night and tried to convince the County Council not to put a 650-bed addition to the county jail in their city.

More than 600 people turned out at Arundel High School in Gambrills to hear public testimony on where the proposed addition should go and where it shouldn't.

Annapolis City Council members complained that the County Council's late inclusion of the Jennifer Road site caught them by surprise.

The current detention center, which is badly overcrowded, is located in Annapolis on Jennifer Road overlooking U.S. 50. The route is considered the gateway to the city, and officials don't want a high-rise structure marring the view. The addition would be built on a 10-acre parcel next to the existing jail.

Alderwoman Ruth Gray said she first learned that Jennifer Road was being considered when she read the paper on Friday.

"Needless to say, I went ballistic, and my first words were not 'Thank you,' but 'It stinks,' " Ms. Gray said. "I would have paid much more attention if I had known Annapolis was on the . . . list. I would have attended meetings."

Alderman John Hammond echoed her complaint. "When it comes to a lot of matters in the county, we are never in the loop. We're in the noose, but we're not in the loop."

Mr. Hammond added that Annapolis officials would be willing to discuss using some city land for a prison site.

"All we're saying is give us a chance. But don't ram this down our throats tonight."

Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, also opposed the Jennifer Road site, saying that the small plot would force the county to build an expensive high-rise jail.

"It is going to cost us more money to build, and it's going to cost us more money to operate," she said. "Now I cannot believe that this council is so irresponsible as to give to the taxpayer of this county that additional burden."

The council was considering three other sites: a 445-acre tract in Crofton, a 1,266-acre site near Crownsville Hospital Center and Konterra, and a 120-acre site in Jessup. After hearing testimony last night, the council was to vote on a final recommendation to County Executive Robert R. Neall.

The council was expected to approve the Jennifer Road site, which received early support from council members Carl Holland, who introduced the resolution recommending its adoption, George Bachman, Diane R. Evans and David G. Boschert.

In a work session last week, the council eliminated from consideration the county-owned property on New Ordnance Road in Glen Burnie -- the site favored by Mr. Neall -- because of concerns that it was contaminated with hazardous wastes. That suspicion was confirmed earlier this week when the county received a letter from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirming that part of the 85-acre site showed unacceptable readings of radioactive thorium nitrate.

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