Sarbanes' bill would close D.C.'s Oak Hill youth facility

August 03, 2005|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,SUN STAFF

U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes has introduced a bill to close the Oak Hill Youth Detention Center in western Anne Arundel County and divvy up the land among the county, the National Park Service and the nearby National Security Agency.

Under Sarbanes' proposal, the 888-acre property, the site of the District of Columbia's juvenile facility, would be transferred in pieces. The Army would help with Oak Hill's closure and with the building of a new facility, preferably in Washington, according to a news release from Sarbanes' office.

Nearby residents and Maryland legislators have fought for more than 20 years to close the crowded facility near Fort Meade.

In June, Fort Meade, home to the NSA, signed off on a three-decade master plan that includes acquiring a portion of the Oak Hill property for security needs.

U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a fellow Democrat, introduced a bill last year to transfer the Oak Hill property. Cardin's version comes up for debate next month in the House Committee on Government Reform, said Cardin spokeswoman Susan Sullam.

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens has long backed using that land for a business park that would support NSA's surveillance mission and for parkland.

Through a spokeswoman, Owens said that she "strongly supports the senator's legislation, if it continues to move us forward with security needs, recreational space and the D.C. government's juvenile justice needs."

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