County slows bid to buy Grumman plant Community groups, councilmen oppose site

June 21, 1996|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County's indoor soccer and lacrosse players -- not to mention county workers using old, outmoded buildings -- may have to wait longer than expected for badly needed new quarters.

The Ruppersberger administration's seeming rush to buy the old Grumman plant in Glenarm has slowed to a crawl because of resistance on the County Council and among area community groups, and environmental issues at the 45-acre former aircraft parts manufacturing site.

Meanwhile, Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, a Fullerton Democrat whose district includes the Grumman site, says he has found an alternative -- and possibly better -- location for the facilities: a 65-acre private airport next to Interstate 95 in the Honeygo area.

"It's an alternative that could be worth looking at," Bartenfelder said of the Baltimore Airpark on Forge Hill Road.

The airport, owned by C. Earle Mace, who has said he wants $4 million for the property, is much closer to heavily populated neighborhoods than is the Grumman plant, but Bartenfelder said he remains open to the Grumman proposal.

A site is being sought by the county for a facility to consolidate repair shops housed in outmoded buildings around the county, including the 40-year-old Fire Department garage in Towson.

The project also was envisioned as including recreational use because of demand for indoor soccer and lacrosse facilities.

The $5 million Grumman deal seemed a quick answer to those problems two months ago, but won't come up for a final decision before fall, according to Michael H. Davis, spokesman for the Ruppersberger administration.

"There's no sense in rushing," Davis said. He added that neither he nor Robert J. Barrett, the administration's point man on the Grumman deal, has heard about the Baltimore Airpark idea.

County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, who just returned from a five-day trip to Israel, said the county remains interested in the two huge manu- facturing warehouses with a combined 360,000 square feet of space at the Grumman site.

But Davis said the county wants to examine the Grumman proposal closely before holding a community meeting on it or signing a contract.

On April 30, Davis told community protesters at the plant in the 12200 block of Long Green Pike that the county would hold a community meeting to explain the deal within several weeks. But no date for a meeting has been set.

Davis said yesterday that the county is studying a preliminary environmental report on the site and compiling a comprehensive study of local government space needs -- which critics on the County Council said was lacking.

The space study won't be done until at least August, Davis said, and George Perdikakis, the county's environmental chief, is still studying the site's features.

Several councilmen have serious doubts about the Grumman plant, mainly because of its rural location and concern for potential traffic problems.

"Recreation areas ought to be near the communities they serve," said Towson Republican Douglas B. Riley, who called the Grumman location "isolated."

Nancy Hastings, president of the Greater Kingsville Civic Association, and one of the community opponents, said, "My hat is off to the councilmen" for the delay.

Pub Date: 6/21/96

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