Hoyer assails D.C. over Forest Haven City not a good neighbor in Anne Arundel, he says

December 04, 1998|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer demanded yesterday that the District of Columbia clean up its rotting Forest Haven institution for the mentally retarded in Anne Arundel County before moving ahead with a $25 million plan to build a jail near the site.

The Democratic congressman also said the District's mayor-elect, Anthony Williams, should meet with Maryland City-area residents to discuss how the District can make its institutions safer and less of a nuisance.

Hoyer has some influence over what happens on the roughly 250-acre Forest Haven site north of Route 198 near the Baltimore-Washington Parkway because the District leases the land from the federal government.

Next door to Forest Haven is the maximum-security, 150-bed Oak Hill Youth Detention Facility, also on federal land.

"I am very concerned about any plans by the District of Columbia to build a prison on the Forest Haven/Oak Hill site," Hoyer said. "The District has a poor record of being a good neighbor in Anne Arundel County, especially for the homeowners who live near the facilities."

Hoyer was successful is helping to close Cedar Knoll, the District's nearby youth detention center, in 1993 because of inmate escapes.

On the Forest Haven site is a largely abandoned 21-building complex that was closed in 1991 because staff members were abusing residents.

The Sun reported yesterday that neighbors and a Fire Department official want the District to demolish the buildings and pull out of the area because the Forest Haven ruins have become a haven for drug abusers, arsonists and vandals.

But the District has no plans to leave. In the city's fiscal 2000 budget is $25 million to build a detention center for people younger than age 21 awaiting trial, said Madelyn Andrews, public information officer for the District's Department of Human Services.

The new detention center might be near Oak Hill, Andrews said, but the exact location has not been decided.

Anne Arundel Councilman-elect Daniel E. Klosterman Jr. said the District should allow the vacant federal land to be used for something more productive, such as a high-technology business park.

"Why does Anne Arundel County keep getting picked on for these facilities?" asked Klosterman. "What are we, a dumping ground?

Pub Date: 12/04/98

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