Legislative analysts urge rejection of plan to move police training site; Governor wants to shift proposed facility from Sykesville to urban area


The General Assembly's fiscal analysts recommended yesterday that lawmakers reject Gov. Parris N. Glendening's proposal to shift a planned $32 million police training center out of Sykesville and into a more urbanized area.

In making the recommendation to a Senate subcommittee, the legislative analysts noted that the state has spent more than $1.5 million in design and other work at the Sykesville site to prepare for the training center.

Glendening stunned Carroll County lawmakers last month when he announced his plan to find a new location for the training center, which has long been planned for the Sykesville site.

He said putting such an expensive facility in a remote area would conflict with his Smart Growth goal of using state resources to revitalize struggling urban and suburban communities.

Building in a rural part of Carroll County "would not help an existing community," said Ron Kreitner, director of the state Office of Planning, explaining the administration's decision.

Key legislators said yesterday they will keep an open mind until Glendening can propose an alternative location for the training center -- something he is expected to do within the next several weeks.

"We don't have anything to compare it to," said Sen. Thomas M. Middleton, a Charles County Democrat and chairman of the subcommittee that is handling the matter in the Senate.

"I can see both sides of the argument," added Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, the Baltimore Democrat who chairs the budget committee.

The state has built a driver-training track and a firearms shooting range at the Sykesville site, on the grounds of Springfield Hospital Center. The final piece of the training center is an academic building where police trainees would study for as long as six months.

Sen. Larry E. Haines, a Carroll Republican who represents the Sykesville area, said he was pleased with the staff recommendation and suggested that the Assembly would back him on the issue.

"I don't think there's any other location that would be more appropriate," Haines said. "It seems to me that the governor has hardly anyone in the legislature with him on this issue."

One member of the subcommittee, Sen. Donald F. Munson, agreed with Haines, saying it seemed illogical to split the academic training building from the driving track and shooting range.

"We're going to have these people driving back and forth, wasting gasoline. Is this smart growth?" asked Munson, a Washington County Republican.

In response, Glendening administration officials said a more centrally located academic center -- even though separated from the driving and shooting facilities -- might be more convenient for police trainees from around the state.

Legislative analysts often make recommendations on spending that are rejected by the Assembly as budget deliberations proceed.

Pub Date: 2/10/99

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