New jail could fill too soon Report dampens building proposal

April 21, 1993|By John A. Morris and Andrea F. Siegel | John A. Morris and Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writers

Anne Arundel County can build a low-rise replacement jail at the Jennifer Road Detention Center in Annapolis, but there would be no room for future expansion, according to a consultant's report released yesterday.

The report said a 1,200-bed replacement jail would be at capacity in 20 years. Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates Inc. presented the $150,000 study to County Executive Robert R. Neall yesterday. The Harrisburg, Pa., consultant was asked to determine if a replacement jail could be built -- and how large it could be -- on the 19-acre site.

"Yes, it's feasible but it may not be desirable," Mr. Neall said in response to the findings. "If we go with this, we are consciously saying that somewhere in the next 15 to 20 years we will have to find another jail site."

The new study validated the projections of a 1990 study by Carter Goble Associates Inc., based in South Carolina. That study said the county would need jail space for nearly 1,450 inmates by 2005. The current Jennifer Road facility was designed for about 600 prisoners.

But Crabtree, Rohrbaugh differed from Carter Goble on the cost and architecture of the replacement jail. Carter Goble said that a seven-story replacement at Jennifer Road would cost about $110 million.

Crabtree, Rohrbaugh recommended a $60 million, two-story facility that used adjacent property now housing a county maintenance garage, fire station and gasoline filling station. Construction would be done in three phases over six years.

Relocating the fire house to an undetermined site, probably off Generals Highway near Epping Forest, would cost about $3 million, Mr. Neall said. He said he would not relocate the garage or the filling station.

Mr. Neall said he must decide by May 3 if the county should move forward with a replacement jail at Jennifer Road or build it elsewhere. That is when the capital budget goes to the County Council for approval.

Crabtree, Rohrbaugh said building a jail elsewhere would cost $58 million. But it may require the county to build additions -- with a total of about 192 beds at a cost of up to $3.5 million -- onto the Jennifer Road facility until the new jail opens.

The County Council rejected plans to build a jail on a new site last year, directing the executive to look at expanding Jennifer Road.

"It pains me because I like to make good, long-term decisions," Mr. Neall said. "I think it's an open question as to whether 20 years [of jail capacity] is long enough."

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