`Sykesville' is Smart Growth

Police training: Reuse of state buildings, in growth zone beside a town, meets governor's goals.

February 10, 1999

PRESSURE is mounting on Gov. Parris N. Glendening to reverse his abrupt decision to cancel completion of a $53 million statewide police and corrections training center in eastern Carroll County.

Legislators, including House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., have sent a letter asking the governor to reconsider this ill-advised decision. A legislative staff report issued yesterday urges that the complex remain at the Carroll site. The attorney general's office is examining the legal basis for Mr. Glendening's action. The governor canceled the police project in Sykesville and three proposed highway bypasses in Montgomery and Carroll counties as his first actions under the Smart Growth legislation that took effect last fall.

State Treasurer Richard N. Dixon opposes the governor's position. Comptroller William Donald Schaefer emphasizes that he first approved the project, on former Springfield Hospital Center land, when he was governor. Mr. Dixon and Mr. Schaefer make up two-thirds of the Board of Public Works, which approves construction spending. They could block transfer of the complex elsewhere. Mr. Glendening took a dramatic stand by canceling the project, despite $20 million spent on the site. It is in a designated Smart Growth area, but not as good , he says, as a commercial, urban center.

True Smart Growth dictates that the training center (with classrooms and dormitories) be completed at Springfield. The location is convenient for the larger police agencies. No further land need be disturbed. Recycling of state property is good use of resources. Political leverage may ultimately persuade Mr. Glendening to follow through at Springfield. But he could take that step on his own and uphold Smart Growth.

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