Not safe but sorry

Carroll County: Continued piddling over safety and cost issues blocks overdue state rifle range.

March 02, 2001

NEARLY two years after the first questions about its safety were raised, state officials still haven't found a satisfactory solution for the uncompleted rifle range at the police training center near Sykesville.

The cost of the range has multiplied as officials squabbled with the original contractor, quibbled over costs and dilly-dallied over choosing a modified design.

The range that was budgeted for $660,000 to open in the fall of 1999 will likely cost four times that much and probably won't even be ready for use this fall.

While about $2 million in modifications have been proposed to safely contain fired rounds, officials explain that they are concerned about assuring absolute safety but are worried about the costs of such proposals.

And there's concern that admitting specific design flaws could affect the state's cost dispute with the original contractor, which won't be heard by the state Board of Contract Appeals until October.

Continuing problems with this part of the $50 million training complex for law enforcement and correctional officers add to the overall project's troubled history.

After a decade of discussion and planning, an 800-acre site on the former Springfield Hospital Center grounds was selected in 1995. But as the driver-training course and the pistol ranges were being completed, Gov. Parris N. Glendening abruptly decided two years ago to construct the center's classrooms and administration building in another, unspecified, more urban site.

That bizarre plan was canceled last year, and another former Springfield hospital site was chosen for these academic buildings.

The upshot is that a worthwhile, long-planned central facility to train 25,000 state and local officers is delayed, at greater cost, by poor managerial decisions and oversight. It's time for the state to start shooting straight.

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