Glendening gives ground on police center

Another site proposed for $30 million project

January 25, 2000|By Thomas W. Waldron and Mary Gail Hare | Thomas W. Waldron and Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Reversing a decision that had drawn sharp criticism from other state officials, Gov. Parris N. Glendening called yesterday for a police training center to be built adjacent to a Sykesville site he had earlier concluded was inconsistent with his Smart Growth philosophy.

Glendening pulled the plug on the $30 million training center a year ago, saying the proposed location on the grounds of Springfield Hospital Center in Carroll County was too far from existing development and would encourage suburban sprawl.

But the other two members of the Board of Public Works, which would have to approve a new site for the project, were dead-set against relocating the training center.

Yesterday, the governor gave in and ended the political stalemate.

Putting the best face on the decision, Glendening said the chosen site -- which is a few hundred yards from the rejected original location -- "promotes revitalization in the existing community rather than additional sprawl."

Unlike the previous location, the new site -- known as the Warfield Complex -- sits within the boundaries of the town of 3,500.

Much of the complex, which was originally part of Springfield Hospital and consisted of wards, treatment centers and recreation facilities, is at the north end of the town's Main Street.

"While I still have some concerns about traffic the project will generate in the area, the Warfield Complex site strongly encourages new private development to locate in Sykesville, and those advantages clearly outweigh the remaining traffic problem," Glendening said.

Even though no agreement on a site existed at the time, the General Assembly approved $10.3 million for the project last year, meaning design and construction work can begin quickly on the long-planned training center.

Maryland Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, who sits on the Board of Public Works with Glendening and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and had led the opposition to relocating the center, diplomatically accepted the governor's political surrender.

"It's an outstanding decision," said Dixon, who lives in Carroll County and had pushed for years for the project to be located there.

But a leading supporter of Glendening's anti-sprawl effort was not pleased, saying the project would add congestion in the Route 32 corridor.

"We're not very happy with this decision," said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, executive director of 1000 Friends of Maryland, an environmental advocacy group. "We strongly feel this facility would be better located in an existing facility with public transit."

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