Balto. County takes millions in legislature

Recreation centers, schools are winners in just-ended session

April 14, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County fared well in this year's legislative session, winning millions to build community centers and fix up schools, along with the authority for county police to arrest fugitives in other jurisdictions.

The county received $1 million to build two Police Athletic League centers in the Randallstown area, $1 million for a recreation center in North Point, $550,000 to renovate the Hannah More School gym in the Reisterstown area and $1.5 million to help convert the former Catonsville Middle School on Bloomsbury Avenue into a $6.3 million recreation center.

Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger plans to announce funding for the projects at a news conference he scheduled this morning in Towson to list the accomplishments of the 1999 legislative session, which ended Monday.

`Extremely well'

"The county did extremely well in Annapolis this year," said Elise Armacost, a Ruppersberger spokeswoman. "I'd say we batted a thousand."

A total of $17 million in school funds will pay for dozens of roof replacements, heating systems, wiring for school computers and a $2 million renovation of Randallstown Elementary School, school officials said.

"This puts us on target for where we expected to be," said Charles Herndon, a spokesman for county schools.

School officials say they hope to win another $15 million in construction money when the state Board of Public Works meets May 19 to vote on additional requests.

$525,000 for each PAL

The General Assembly approved $525,000 for each PAL center, Armacost said.

The PAL centers, which provide after-school recreation for young people between ages 7 and 17, will be built next to Scotts Branch Elementary School in the 8200 block of Tawnmoore Road and next to Winfield Elementary School in the 8300 block of Carlson Lane.

The site for the $3.8 million North Point recreation center is being discussed, but county officials are eyeing the vacant stores in North Point Village Shopping Center in the 400 block of North Point Blvd., Armacost said.

The Assembly also approved $1 million toward the purchase and demolition of the decaying 800-unit Tall Trees apartment complex in Essex. The $1 million is the initial funding toward its purchase and demolition, county officials say.

County officials estimate it could cost about $10 million to buy and demolish the decaying complex built just after World War II, which is owned by 38 landlords and is spread over 53 acres off Back River Neck Road.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening originally earmarked $2 million for Tall Trees' purchase and demolition, but scaled back the amount last week after the Assembly trimmed his $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax to 30 cents.

Broader arrest authority

The Assembly also gave Baltimore County police the authority to arrest fugitives outside the county -- a move that recognizes the regional nature of crime, said county police spokesman Bill Toohey.

The legislation requires county police to sign agreements with departments in other jurisdictions before serving warrants, Toohey said.

Arrests will be coordinated with the neighboring jurisdictions so that plainclothes officers can be clearly identified when making arrests outside their jurisdictions, he said.

"We have regional crime, we need a regional approach -- be it theft or warrants," Toohey said.

Sun staff writer Dail Willis contributed to this article.

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