WEST COUNTY--Crofton * Odenton * Fort Meade * Gambrills

August 18, 1993

Neall urged to study Tipton Airfield

The West County Chamber of Commerce is urging the county executive to study the cost-effectiveness of converting Tipton Army Airfield into a locally owned airport.

"No decision can be made without the study," the chamber said in a statement. "There is a limited amount of time for the county to act before the land will be available for public auction."

The status of Tipton has been in question since its 440 acres were included in the Army's base closure and realignment plan four years ago. The Army has until 1995 to decide what to do with the airfield.

The nearby National Security Agency has objected to turning the airfield into a public facility, arguing that the agency's security could be jeopardized. But a Defense Department memo rejected that argument and said officials would proceed with plans to divest the property.

The property would be put up for sale to the public only after other federal agencies had been given a chance to buy the land.

County Executive Robert R. Neall has delayed using a $175,000 grant to study taking over Tipton until he receives assurances from the Army that it wants to divest the land.

A group of pilots has formed the Save Tipton Coalition to argue that the county won't have enough time to conduct a study once the government opens up bids on the land.

Marcia Hall, executive director of the West County Chamber of Commerce, said her group agrees.

POLICE LOG

* Laurel: Thieves broke into a 1991 Ford truck parked in the 200 block of Red Clay Road Friday between 3:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and took stereo equipment valued at $780.

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