Gov. William Donald Schaefer has given up on moving the state prison boot camp from Jessup to Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County, elating neighbors of the Army facility who have fought the controversial proposal for months.
"We are pleased," said Zoe Draughon, of Seven Oaks, a 4,700-home development being built across from the proposed boot camp site. "It is a shame that it had to get this far to begin with."
The governor's efforts were crippled when U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., tacked an amendment onto the pending military construction bill forbidding any federal money to be used to relocate the camp to the military post.
"This effectively ends our efforts to put the boot camp on Fort Meade," said Paige Boinest, the governor's spokeswoman.
"The governor is disappointed. Fort Meade obviously was our clearest choice."
The state proposed moving the camp to Fort Meade last year to make room for women prisoners at its crowded complex in Jessup and to expand its capacity from 265 inmates to 500. In exchange, Fort Meade would have gotten 2,000 hours of free inmate labor a week.
But residents near the post were in an uproar several months ago when they found out about the proposal from newspaper articles just two weeks before the then-garrison commander, Col. Kent D. Menser, was to make a decision.
Colonel Menser now retired, left the boot camp issue in the hands of his successor, Col. Robert G. Morris III, who took over in July. Colonel Morris wanted the Army to allow the boot camp on post.
Even though the state was footing the entire $1 million bill to renovate World War II barracks for the camp, Mr. Hoyer's amendment would wipe out the project because federal officials "couldn't even make a phone call related to the camp," said Ms. Boinest.
Michael Owens, an assistant Army secretary, said yesterday that his staff is just days from reaching a decision on whether to allow the camp on Fort Meade. "This sort of grinds everything to a halt," he said.
Opposition to the boot camp was so strong that the Anne Arundel legislative delegation threatened to block funding for certain projects in the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
Mr. Hoyer said yesterday that he will work with the governor's office to find alternate sites for boot camps.