Gary's election boosts prospects for new jail ELECTION 1994

November 11, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

The election of John G. Gary as county executive has resolved one contentious issue in Anne Arundel County.

As far as the county is concerned, Glen Burnie will get a new jail.

Mr. Gary, a Republican, made it clear before the election that he supported building the proposed $27 million minimum-security jail on county-owned property on Ordnance Road. With a four-member Republican majority on the County Council, he already has the votes he needs to hold off any attempt to revisit the issue and to approve the $23.5 million capital budget request for jail construction when it comes before the council next May.

Next stop is the General Assembly, where Mr. Gary will try to get $11.5 million, a little less than half the construction cost, during next year's legislative session.

The outgoing County Council approved the jail plan last March, but Theodore J. Sophocleus, the Democratic nominee for the county executive, joined the North County opposition to the plan during the campaign and suggested he could derail it if he were elected.

But the votes for the Glen Burnie jail may have as much to do with geographic distribution as with party affiliation.

The Democrats on the incoming council -- George F. Bachman Jr., of Linthicum; James "Ed" DeGrange, of Glen Burnie, and Thomas Redmond, of Pasadena -- are from North County districts and say they will continue to fight a North County jail.

The Republicans come from points south and west. Diane Evans, of Arnold, was the decisive fourth vote when the council approved the Glen Burnie site in March. During her campaign, she criticized her opponent, David DeAngelis, a Baltimore deputy sheriff, for being "soft on crime" for his opposition to the Ordnance Road jail.

Ms. Evans will be joined by Republicans John J. Klocko, of Crofton; William Mulford II, of Annapolis; and Bert L. Rice, of Odenton, in supporting the new jail. All three said during the campaign the Glen Burnie property would make the best location for the jail once it is cleared of hazardous materials left over from its use as a U.S. Army ordnance depot. That project could be completed by the end of the year.

"I think the best site in the county is the Ordnance Road site," Mr. Mulford said yesterday. "I've made that position clear from the beginning."

"They shouldn't revisit it. It's been resolved," Mr. Klocko added.

"I think we ought to just go ahead and do it," Mr. Rice concluded.

PD North County jail opponents said they haven't given up hope yet.

Activist gives view

"I would like to see the new members of the council become educated enough before any make a statement on Ordnance Road yea or nay," said Janie Ballard, a community activist from Country Club estates. "I'm looking for the willingness to learn, to assess a situation honestly and clearly and not just vote along party lines."

Mr. Bachman is hoping he can get Mr. Gary to listen to his idea of renovating the Winterode Building in Crownsville, which used to house the offices of the Department of Recreation and Parks, for use as a jail for nonviolent inmates.

"It will save us money -- you're talking $27 million vs. $2 million -- and the other thing it will save us is time," Mr. Bachman said.

But it appears that the only way to block the jail now is to convince the county's legislative delegation to vote against it. Last year, when the General Assembly approved $1.2 million in planning money for the new jail, the county's House and Senate delegations split along north-south lines. That left the tie to be broken by George W. Owings III, a Calvert County delegate whose district includes parts of southern Anne Arundel. He voted in favor of the project.

The Senate delegation also approved the project, with Sens. Gerald W. Winegrad, D-Annapolis, John A. Cade, R-Severna Park, and C. Bernard Fowler, D-Prince Frederick, voting in favor. Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, was a staunch opponent, and Sen. Michael J. Wagner, D-Ferndale, opposed the jail in the delegation, although he later supported the proposal.

Now, Mr. Wagner has been replaced by C. Edward Middlebrooks, R-Olde Mill, who is as vigorous an opponent of the jail on Ordnance Road as Mr. Jimeno.

Expansion opposed

Mr. Winegrad will be replaced by Del. John C. Astle, who supports the North County jail and opposes any expansion of the Detention Center in Annapolis. "I supported it when I was here in the House," Mr. Astle said.

That leaves Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller Jr., whose district includes the southern tip of Anne Arundel County once represented by Mr. Fowler, as the likely deciding vote.

Mr. Miller said yesterday that he has followed the Anne Arundel jail controversy, but that he has taken no position on the proposal. "I intend to participate in the public hearings and make an informed decision," he said.

He said he was confident he would be able to reach some sort of consensus with his four Anne Arundel colleagues. "The five of us will be able to work through it," he said.

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