The Ruppersberger administration wants to move Baltimore County's Department of Recreation and Parks and a variety of scattered agencies to a large Cockeysville warehouse -- if agreement can be obtained from a cantankerous County Council.
The proposed $2.5 million warehouse purchase is part of the county's plan to replace a collection of small, dilapidated buildings and sheds spread from Towson to Cockeysville with one large place for building trades workers, automobile mechanics and the recreation and parks agency.
It also would provide a new workplace for carpenters and painters displaced when their building burned last year.
After the consolidation, the county would sell the former Woodvale Elementary School building that houses some offices in Ruxton; a small warehouse building in East Towson; and the building in central Towson housing the recreation agency. The latter -- at Washington and Susquehanna avenues -- is a prime location for an office building.
Proceeds from the sales would offset costs of buying the 83,850-square-foot McCormick and Co. warehouse and 6 acres on Gilroy Road, administration officials say.
Money for the consolidation of agencies was included in the capital budget approved in May.
But county Administrative Officer Merreen E. Kelly was stunned at Monday night's council meeting when the seemingly routine purchase was tabled.
A vote on the contract is set for Jan. 2.
The tabling motion by Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, a Fullerton Democrat, was the climax of a series of objections that made Council Chairman Vincent J. Gardina wonder aloud what was happening.
* Councilman T. Bryan McIntire, a north county Republican and former Carroll County state's attorney, lectured on the history of grand juries since medieval times over a request for $2,500 to help pay for producing an instructional video for new grand jurors.
* Louis L. DePazzo, a Dundalk Democrat, lectured Michael Gimbel, director of the Office of Substance Abuse, with objections to spending county money to help promote social events such as after-prom parties intended to give young people alternatives to drinking. He said the efforts fail to reach problem youths.
* Without warning, the council killed a resolution offered by its chairman, asking the Planning Board to study the feasibility of new zoning laws to control where apartments and rental townhouses can be built.
Mr. Bartenfelder said he objects to buying the warehouse because "we're in tough times and we're cutting back and now is not the time to expand." He said he was angered to see the item on the agenda because he thought Mr. Gardina was going to pull it.
Mr. Gardina said he thought Mr. Bartenfelder was merely going to ask some questions and wasn't aware of a serious objection.
Other members said they voted to table the measure to support Mr. Bartenfelder.
County officials and Edward M. Pedrick Jr., president of Local 921 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the purchase is not an expansion but an effort to play catch-up on government facilities.
The places used by county workers now are "almost like little sheds," Mr. Pedrick said.
The carpenters have been begging and borrowing space to work for a year, and new police cars are stored outdoors before being made ready for the street in the central Towson garage, he said.
He and Mr. Kelly said the consolidation would save time and money in the long run by eliminating confusion and duplication.