Site selected for Northern police station Mayor Schmoke chooses Cold Spring Lane property over Remington proposal

November 05, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

After months of debate, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke notified North Baltimore community leaders yesterday that he has decided to build a Northern District police station on city-owned property near Cold Spring Lane and the Jones Falls Expressway.

To soften the blow for Remington, which wanted the police station because of neighborhood crime problems, Schmoke said he would take steps to open a police substation there.

The mayor's decision, announced in a letter dated Thursday and received yesterday, sparked an outcry from some community leaders, who clung to the hope that they could persuade him to renovate a vacant drugstore at 29th Street and Remington Avenue for the station.

"The cold political reality is that we're asking the mayor to turn the ocean liner around just as it enters the Inner Harbor," said Sandra Sparks, executive director of the Greater Homewood Community Corp.

Time and money concerns

In the letter, Schmoke said that in making his decision he was concerned about time and money.

"The cost for redeveloping the F&M [drugstore] building would be significantly more ," the mayor wrote. "Additionally, the project would be delayed by two years."

Schmoke added that Planning Director Charles C. Graves and Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier recommended that he choose the 6-acre Cold Spring site over Remington.

A cost comparison ordered by the mayor showed that a police station at the vacant Remington drugstore would cost more than $7 million, about $1.5 million more than the cost of building one at the Cold Spring site.

Sparks and others disputed the study, saying that their analysis showed the costs of building at the two sites would be about the same.

Century-old building

The Northern District building, a red Victorian architectural landmark in Hampden, is nearly a century old.

The city has been planning to replace it for the past 10 years.

Community leaders from the Charles Village Benefits District and other organizations staged a rally in July at which they urged Schmoke to reconsider the city's choice of the wooded Cold Spring site because, they argued, a strong police presence was needed in Remington where crime is a problem.

In response, the mayor ordered the cost study.

Meeting last month

At a meeting last month, Frazier told community leaders that he did not consider either of the sites better than the other in terms of combating crime.

"Regardless of the geographic location of the Northern District, officers will continue to be very responsive to the community and their concerns," said spokesman Robert W. Weinhold Jr.

Pub Date: 11/05/97

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