Annapolis make its case not to be site for new jail

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

The County Council voted 4-3 last night to recommend that a new 650-bed jail be located in Annapolis, on the site of the current detention center.

Council members David G. Boschert, George Bachman, Diane R. Evans and Carl Holland voted in favor of the resolution. Council members Virginia P. Clagett, Maureen Lamb and Edward Middlebrooks voted no.

The vote angered Annapolis city officials attending the public hearing at Arundel High School in Gambrills. They argued that the council's decision last week to include the site on Jennifer Road overlooking U.S. 50 -- which they consider the gateway to the city -- caught them by surprise.

"It stinks," said Alderwoman Ruth Gray, who first learned that Jennifer Road was being considered when she read the paper late last week. "Read it in the paper Friday. It's voted Wednesday. It's a joke, it stinks. Politics at its worst."

Alderman John Hammond was even more vocal. He got into a shouting match after the vote with Mr. Holland, who sponsored the resolution for the Jennifer Road site.

"Why not call us?" Mr. Hammond shouted at Mr. Holland.

"Why should I call you?" Mr. Holland shot back.

"To tell us you're about to stick the fork in us," Mr. Hammond retorted.

Mr. Hammond said that by making last night's decision and avoiding sites that make more sense but are politically unpopular, the council was saying, "We don't have the courage to make a correct decision. we hope the county executive bails us out."

Earlier, in his public testimony, Mr. Hammond suggested that if the County had come to city officials, they probably would have been 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," he said.

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.

More than 600 people attended the last night's public hearing. Few of the more than 50 who testified spoke out against the Annapolis site. Most spoke against the proposed Crownsville site. The resolution will now be sent to County Executive Robert R. Neall, who has the option of vetoing it. If he agrees with the decision, he will approach the General Assembly with the county's detention center plan to ask them to fund half the cost.

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