Ehrlich and Leopold call for O'Malley to give land to Arundel

Republicans endorse each other

May 21, 2010|By Nicole Fuller, The Baltimore Sun

Two prominent Republicans joined forces Friday to call for the state to transfer control to Anne Arundel County of a plot of land that houses the closed Crownsville Hospital Center.

County Executive John R. Leopold and former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. spoke before a crowd of veterans on the hospital campus to push for Gov. Martin O'Malley to relinquish the 648-acre state-owned complex to the county to revitalize the property.

The property houses the county's food bank and other social service programs, but it has mostly been dormant and fallen into disrepair since the hospital closed in 2004. Leopold said he has appealed to O'Malley in the past but has been met with "silence and indecision."

"The delay has been unconscionable," Leopold said.

Ehrlich, who lives near the property, said he drives by and "shakes his head."

"This could be a jewel," he said. "Let the county do its thing."

Rick Abbruzzesse, a spokesman for O'Malley's re-election campaign, said it was Ehrlich who "failed to do anything productive" regarding the land during his term as governor. He added that the land was declared surplus property in 2006 and is in the clearing house process for excess parcels.

"Gov. Martin O'Malley is open to that land being used for veterans services, space for nonprofits … but to date, the county has not put forward a viable plan to make that happen," said Abbuzzesse, adding, "I think the county executive is looking for us to turn over the land, but he's been unwilling to make the financial commitment that the land would require."

Leopold said he envisions the land as a "super campus of nonprofits," adding that he's considering several funding mechanisms, including federal stimulus.

Both Ehrlich, who is running for governor, and Leopold, who is running for re-election, also endorsed each others' campaigns at the event.

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