Cedar Knoll Youth Detention Center in Laurel, scheduled to close in less than a month, might make a fine West County campus for Anne Arundel Community College, David Boschert, county council chairman, suggested yesterday.
Mr. Boschert proposed the idea to college president Thomas E. Florestano as the council reviewed the proposed college budget for the next fiscal year.
"You've got no complaints from us," Dr. Florestano replied. "We'd like to take a long look at it."
The center for nonviolent offenders from Washington is run by the District of Columbia.
West County residents, angered by frequent escapes, have long sought to close the facility. Last year, Congress cut off funds for the center as of June 1 through a bill sponsored Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, a 5th District Democrat.
Mr. Boschert said he expected district officials to abide by that deadline.
He said he has told Mr. Hoyer, in whose district the property is located, and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a 3rd District Democrat, that he wants to obtain the property for the county. The normal procedure for disposing of surplus government property is to offer it to local jurisdictions before putting it on the market.
"We are interested in obtaining that land in the county inventory for many purposes, including the West County campus of the Anne Arundel Community College," Mr. Boschert said after the hearing.
Dr. Florestano, who said he envisioned establishing a second campus for the school rather then a satellite center, was enthusiastic about the idea.
"There's no question that the logical place for the campus to move is to the west county," he said. "The demographics and the studies we've done all indicate the place for us to go is the (Route) 175 corridor, Piney Orchard, Fort Meade and the NSA."
He said he has no doubt that there is sufficient demand for education in that area. Already, 500 students are taking night classes at Meade High School.
With the Army changing Fort Meade into principally a training facility, the community college already has agreed to provide certain technical courses for the soldiers.
And the nearby National Security Agency offers a gold mine of potential students, he added.
"That would be a very intriguing element to put near there," Dr. Florestano said. "They could get out of the training business, and we could provide that training for them."