Carroll legislators vow to fight moving of police training center

Glendening withdraws funding for facility

January 20, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll legislators vowed yesterday to fight the governor's decision to move a $53 million police training center from the county.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening said Monday that the Carroll site in Sykesville, on state property once part of the Springfield Hospital Center, does not comply with Smart Growth, his 1997 initiative to discourage sprawl by providing state aid for development in and around existing communities.

Although the state has spent more than $10 million for architecture and design work on vacant hospital buildings that were to be renovated into classrooms, dormitories and offices, the governor has asked his staff to find another site.

Ultimately, the decision to fund a different site rests with the state Board of Public Works, a three-member board that includes the governor, Treasurer Richard N. Dixon and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer.

The center, planned 10 years ago when Schaefer was governor and Dixon was a Carroll delegate, has long been favored by both.

"That support could be used as leverage at this point in the process," said Del. Joseph M. Getty, a Manchester Republican.

Dixon would not comment about the governor's decision yesterday, other than to say he was disappointed and shocked. Schaefer could not be reached.

The center would still be built, but at a different location chosen from a list submitted by a newly appointed search committee.

Baltimore County officials contacted state police officials yesterday to see how much land might be needed for the facility and to see if a county site can be found.

Michael H. Davis, a spokesman for County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, said no one in the county was lobbying Glendening , and that officials only learned about the decision when they read about it in The Sun yesterday.

"The governor believes we will find a new site for the center and keep it on schedule for a 2002 opening," said Don Vandray, a Glendening spokesman. Under Smart Growth, state facilities must be built in economically distressed areas, he said.

Sen. Larry E. Haines, leader of Carroll's delegation, predicted that neither Dixon nor Schaefer would withdraw support for completing the center in Carroll. "It was Schaefer's initiative in the beginning and Dixon's support which brought the center here," Haines said.

"I am certain we can convince them to continue their support."

Carroll legislators plan to meet with the Board of Public Works and to lobby the legislature on their cause.

"We want all members of the legislature to look at this issue and to follow through on completion of the Schaefer initiative," said Haines. "No other state-owned property is so centrally located for this facility."

Sykesville is within a few miles of Interstate 70 and near Howard and Montgomery counties.

In scrapping the Springfield hospital site, the governor has "reneged on his own position and on a big investment," Haines said.

Del. Nancy R. Stocksdale of Westminster said planning for the training center occurred long before Smart Growth took effect.

"The governor grandfathered many highway projects, planned long before Smart Growth was enacted," she said. "This project has been planned for 10 years; millions have been spent. It should also be grandfathered."

Pub Date: 1/20/99

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