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Training site for police gains 2 more buildings


The police training center in southern Carroll County, entering its final phase of construction, will include two more vacant hospital buildings than planned.

As a period of demolition ends and renovations begin to about 60,000 square feet of space on property that was once part of Springfield Hospital Center, plans for the state's $60 million Public Safety Training Center have been expanded to convert two more buildings into dormitories with about 110 beds.

Law enforcement officers from across the state - as many as 500 a day - will train in various aspects of police work at the center on former state hospital property along Route 32 in Sykesville. As work progressed on the classroom aspects, state officials saw a need for more dormitory space than the 48 bedrooms originally designed.

Already, a firing range and drivers training course are in use. The final phase - the restoration of about 60,000 square feet in the hospital's cavernous Hubner and T buildings into classrooms, offices, laboratories, a cafeteria and dormitories - began in July.

"We are coming to the end of the demolition phase now and about to begin actual renovations," said Raymond A. Franklin, assistant director of the state's police and correctional training commissions. "We have also completed the structural work for the new building that will connect the two hospital buildings."

The only new construction is a 20,000-square-foot physical training center that will house a gym, defensive-tactics course and a pool for rescue instruction.

The century-old Hubner building, the largest of 14 structures known as the hospital's Warfield Complex, will house as many as 16 classrooms, including a mock courtroom, police station and jail. The town of Sykesville has title to the remaining Warfield buildings and plans to renovate them into a business and academic center. The town will benefit from the new infrastructure the state is building for the center.

When state corrections officials went looking for more dormitory space, they found it practically next door to Hubner, and all that was required was to transfer ownership from one state agency to another. The two-story brick cottages were formerly used as convalescent wards for the patients at Springfield, a hospital for the mentally ill that once treated as many as 3,000 patients but now has fewer than 300. The cottages, on Second Avenue, face Hubner and are within walking distance of the classrooms and labs.

The state expects to put out to bid contracts for parking, an activity field and roads on the 23-acre site this fall - work that will be completed before the opening of the center, tentatively set for January 2004.

"By the fall of 2003, we expect to have all the components completed," Franklin said. "We are moving forward with all dispatch, and we are on schedule."

Renovation of the two cottage buildings, expected to cost about $5 million, will include a few small lounge areas in addition to the 110 bedrooms that will supplement the 48 planned in the Hubner building.

Much of the project is funded by $5 fines that have been assessed since 1987 in District Court cases - mainly traffic tickets.

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