Renovation of jail at present Jennifer Road site is proposed

January 25, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

The search for a site for a new county jail, which has at one time or another focused on communities in north county, Millersville and Annapolis, could end up where it started -- on Ordnance Road in Glen Burnie.

Three County Council members -- Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis; David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville; and Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River -- introduced a resolution last night to renovate the jail on Jennifer Road near Annapolis and build a satellite facility on the controversial Ordnance Road tract.

The jail issue has dogged the council throughout most of its term. The 85-acre tract on Ordnance Road was originally favored by County Executive Robert R. Neall as the site of a badly needed $80 million, 650-bed detention center.

The plan ran into furious opposition from north county residents and was eventually dropped when radioactive thorium nitrate contamination, left over from when the property was part of a federal weapons depot, was discovered in May 1992.

A plan to clean up the site is being developed by the federal Defense Logistics Agency.

After a long process to find an alternative site, the County Council decided to expand the present jail on Jennifer Road.

That decision sparked furious protest from Annapolis residents, who resented being saddled with a project that would double the capacity of the jail that sits alongside the entryway to Annapolis.

Last night's resolution left representatives of the Civic Associations of Annapolis -- a coalition of community associations that formed to fight the jail expansion -- with broad smiles.

"This is what we call the Annapolis compromise," said Dan Masterson of the CAA.

Mr. Masterson's organization had argued that, because of cramped space at the Jennifer Road site, the county would be forced to build an additional facility to house a growing jail population just a few years after the Annapolis detention center project was complete.

"Now they can start building two facilities at much less cost and save the county literally millions of dollars," Mr. Masterson said.

simply saying build one component at Ordnance Road and we in Annapolis will continue to accept part of our responsibility, as we have for the past 25 years."

The resolution, which will come before the council for a public hearing, would be nonbinding. But the state legislature requires agreement between the council and the county executive before it will approve state funding for the jail.

In other action last night, Ms. Lamb introduced a bill that would abolish some provisions of the 1989 measure that provided lucrative pension benefits for elected and appointed officials.

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