Meade decision due today Commander to say if state boot camp can move there

September 10, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

The new garrison commander of Fort Meade plans to announce this morning his recommendation on a controversial state proposal to move the Herman L. Toulson Correctional Boot Camp from Jessup to the Odenton post.

Col. Robert G. Morris III has invited aides to Maryland congressional representatives and community leaders, all of whom have mounted a public campaign against moving the camp onto the Army base, to a 9 a.m.today.

Officials from the governor's office and the state prison system were not invited.

A spokeswoman for Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who advocated moving the boot camp to Fort Meade, said yesterday that the chief executive did not know an announcement was coming until a reporter called.

"I don't know if that is bizarre or not," said Page W. Boinest, the governor's spokeswoman.

Governor Schaefer said in an interview last week that he would not change his position "under any circumstance."

County Executive Robert R. Neall, who opposes the move, was not invited either. His press secretary, Louise Hayman, called the omission "bizarre."

"I assume we will be notified of the decision simultaneously with the rest of the world," Ms. Hayman said. "It does seem to be an incomplete, or highly selective, guest list."

David G. Boschert, the county council chairman who represents the Fort Meade area, said he was not officially invited, but was told to come by Colonel Morris 10 days ago at a community function.

"I have a feeling that something is going to happen that is not to my liking," said Mr. Boschert, who opposes the move.

Fort Meade spokesman Don McClow would not say what the colonel, who took over command July 1, has decided.

"We can't get into that," Mr. McClow said yesterday. "We'll leave that for Colonel Morris. I don't know if he has notified anybody."

State officials proposed moving the boot camp to Fort Meade last year to make room for women prisoners at its crowded complex in Jessup and to expand the camp from 365 inmates to 500.

The camp would be 100 yards south of Route 175 near Route 32, across the street from the Seven Oaks community, which eventually will have 4,700 homes.

The camp features a rigorous six-month course aimed at changing attitudes of first- and second-time nonviolent offenders.

If Colonel Morris recommends the move, it still will be subject to approval of the First United States Army and the Department of the Army, based at the Pentagon.

Odenton residents, especially those who live in Seven Oaks, have fought the proposal.

They were angry that the former garrison commander, Col. Kent D. Menser, did not hold a public meeting until two weeks before his self-imposed deadline for making a recommendation at the end of June, when he retired.

Facing a wave of public criticism, Colonel Menser delayed his decision and left the package for Colonel Morris, who has been reviewing files, notes and testimony from public meetings over the last five weeks.

"If I wanted to guess, I would say the base will turn the proposal down," Norman G. Myers, the president of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association, said yesterday. "I think the Army has too much to lose. It will be difficult for the Army to approve this and still be considered good neighbors."

David Douglas, one of several Seven Oaks residents who are leading the fight, was not as optimistic yesterday. He said he believes Colonel Morris will side with the state.

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