Move afoot to salvage jail funding Council chairman looking for site

October 29, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

Hoping to salvage state money for a new Anne Arundel County jail, Council Chairman David G. Boschert says he will come up with a new site in the next two weeks.

And high on his list is a location likely to open old wounds: the parcel on New Ordnance Road in Glen Burnie that drew fierce community opposition and that county officials dropped when nuclear radiation contamination was discovered.

"There's just a small amount of contamination that has to be removed, and then it's over with," said Mr. Boschert, stressing that Ordnance Road should be seriously considered.

Mr. Boschert's actions come a week after Gov. William Donald Schaefer said he would block the county's request for $11 million to expand the Jennifer Road jail on the outskirts of Annapolis.

That decision left county officials and local state lawmakers wondering how to get the project back on track. Mr. Boschert, who will leave the council next year but has expressed interest in running for another office, said he decided that he would tackle the problem himself.

"[It's] right in my corner, where I want it," he said, vowing to retain the state money for Anne Arundel.

The council chairman said he is keeping an open mind as he focuses on the 13 locations studied last year by a citizen task force.

But residents can't count on hischoice being in his West County district or at the Millersville site adjacent to his district that was recommended last year by the task force and ignored by the council.

"I don't think any one district or community should bear the brunt of the undesirables when it comes to prisons or landfills," Mr. Boschert said. "When you look at the 4th District, we have more than our fair share."

He said he is using three criteria to narrow his recommendation: proximity to major roads, isolation from residential neighborhoods and access to sewer and water lines.

The county-owned Ordnance Road property meets all three criteria. The only problem is the radiation contamination at an old weapons depot, which has been described as minor by Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials.

Michael Leahy, the county's land use coordinator, said that bids to remove asbestos from the dilapidated warehouses where thorium nitrate was once stored are due in 10 days. The county has agreed to pay for asbestos removal. The federal government, which owned the depot before selling it to the county, will pay for removal of contaminated dirt or building materials.

Mr. Leahy said that he believes the cleanup will begin this year and should be completed early next year.

Mr. Boschert, a Crownsville Democrat, said that he would introduce the resolution at the council meeting Monday night or on Nov. 15.

Councilman George Bachman, in whose district the Ordnance Road property is located, said that if Mr. Boschert does recommend the Glen Burnie site, political ambition is the motive.

"I guess he's trying to clear out the dead wood in front of him as he prepares to run for higher office," Mr. Bachman said. "Up to this point, he's been a pretty responsible legislator. If this is true, Dave's going off the deep end."

In any case, Mr. Bachman said, he'll do his best to block the proposal. "We fought it once and we'll do it again."

Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, who led the fight against a Glen Burnie jail in the General Assembly nearly two years ago, also promised to take up the cause again.

"The County Council rejected the Ordnance Road site twice," he said. "Nothing has changed at the site. It's contaminated. It hasn't been cleaned up."

Mr. Jimeno repeated his contention that the issue should be postponed until after the 1994 county elections. "I think the voters have a right to know where their next county executive, county council and county legislators stand on this issue," he said.

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