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Landfill pushed as jail site But Dell's plan opposed by others


Carroll Commissioner Donald I. Dell has not abandoned his idea to build a jail at the Northern Landfill even though the other two commissioners and a committee that studied the idea oppose it.

Mr. Dell maintains that the county would save money in the long run by building a new jail instead of expanding the existing one.

On Thursday, a committee appointed by the commissioners to study the landfill site on Route 140 agreed that the 260-acre facility does not have enough appropriate space for a jail. Only one five-acre parcel would be usable, they said.

Mr. Dell said he believes a jail could be built on a two-acre site with a one-acre parking lot.

Committee members also said it could be expensive to extend water and sewer lines to the site, and that there could be health hazards for prisoners living there.

Mr. Dell said Friday that he asked committee members to think about the issue over the weekend and possibly meet again this week.

He said Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. and county Budget Director Steven D. Powell, who are members of the committee, should be included in any discussion about a new jail. The two were unable to attend Thursday's meeting.

The committee members who attended the meeting included David N. Bezanson of Finksburg, who is deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, and George Hardinger of Silver Run, who is director of capital projects for the Montgomery County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Mr. Dell said he will ask Mr. Powell to determine whether Carroll can afford to build a new jail.

Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy doesn't think so. The county has been cutting its spending on capital projects in the past few years and should not be spending so much on one project, Mr. Lippy said Friday.

"We're really hard up for capital cash," he said.

The county received a low bid of $3.1 million in January to build an 80-bed addition to the 120-bed jail at 100 N. Court St. The bids were about $1 million above what county officials had projected the addition would cost.

Mr. Dell said he has calculated that a new 200-bed jail could be built for about $4 million.

Mr. Lippy and Commissioner Julia W. Gouge say the county should build the addition, which has been planned for about four years. The state Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning has agreed to pay 53 percent of the cost of an expansion.

The county will need a new jail eventually, and expanding the facility where it is now would take away parking space needed for county employees who work in nearby buildings, Mr. Dell said.

Mr. Lippy predicted that Carroll residents would exert "massive resistance" to a jail at the landfill. An 80-bed expansion would take care of prisoner population growth for at least 10 years -- past when his term of office would end, he added.

"I haven't seen an alarming trend of population explosion" at the jail, he said.

Mrs. Gouge said the county needs to move ahead with the expansion.

"Right now, the important thing is to get on with the jail expansion and do it where it's at. The thing's been four years in the process," she said.

The Northern Landfill is not a good place for a new jail because building there would reduce space needed for landfilling, Mrs. Gouge said.

She said the commissioners should begin looking for sites for another landfill and a jail now for the future. The Northern Landfill can be used for about 15 more years, and possibly longer, if recycling and composting are mandatory, she said.

"I have no specific sites in mind," said Mrs. Gouge, adding that big parcels of land were becoming scarce. "Land is at a premium now," she said. "Now is as good a time as any to buy."

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