Nobody wants jail built nearby

February 23, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

More than 200 county residents filled the Arundel Center chambers for last night's County Council meeting and almost all of them were disgruntled.

People came from Glen Burnie and Crownsville to oppose a detention center in their neighborhoods. Those from Annapolis wanted to make sure a plan to expand the detention center in their community was dead.

Five members of the county's General Assembly delegation addressed council members and urged them to defeat a resolution that would place a second detention center facility on county-owned property at a former Army depot on Ordnance Road in Glen Burnie.

Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, who noted that this was the seventh public hearing conducted by the council to determine where to put the second detention center, criticized the process to find a site for the jail.

"I think it's a disgrace and a disservice we've done to the people of Annapolis, Crownsville, Millersville and North County," he said. Sites in those communities have been under consideration at one time or another for the jail.

Del. Theodore Sophocleus, D-Linthicum, said that when he served on the council, the area around Ordnance Road was designated as a commercial growth area under the county's comprehensive rezoning.

"Now we're reneging on that decision," he said. Large retailers located in that area "specifically because this was going to be the growth area for our economy."

Related to the resolution to build the detention center on Ordnance Road was a separate bill that would transfer $330,000 left over from construction of the Lake Shore Athletic Complex in Pasadena to pay for removing asbestos and demolishing nine warehouses on the Ordnance Road property. The county must remove the warehouses so the federal government can remove radioactive waste left over from when the property was a weapons depot.

But Pasadena residents protested, saying the money should not leave their community.

"This money should be used for the sports complex, not the Ordnance Road jail," said James Riley, a Pasadena resident and candidate for state delegate.

Eric Harris, 11, urged that the money be used for a T-ball field and to provide lights for two more baseball fields.

"Taking $330,000 from the complex is just like taking money away from kids," he said. "My baseball friends and I don't understand why you would want to take money away from this complex, especially when we would like to play at night."

But County Administrative Officer Walter Chitwood assured the council that all the money needed to complete the sports complex has been committed. Money is left over because the county received a low bid from the contractor.

Joan Valenti of the Point Pleasant Shoreland Improvement Association noted that County Executive Robert R. Neall closed the Careers Center last year, a rehabilitation program for troubled youth.

"Now he wants to use money he cut from other county funds to clean a site to build a detention center for them," she said. "Something is wrong. If the county had kept this program, we wouldn't have the need to build more prisons."

Councilman Carl G. Holland insisted that the money stay in the budget for recreation programs.

"There's a lot of youth programs that could benefit from the [money] that you're going to take," he said.

Later in the meeting, nearly 40 people were scheduled to testify on two resolutions, one to put the detention center in Glen Burnie and the other to put it in Crownsville.

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