ANNAPOLIS – Comptroller William Donald Schaefer pressured the Glendening administration Wednesday to name its alternative sites for a police training center originally planned for Sykesville in Carroll County.
During a Board of Public Works meeting, administration officials declined to be specific about potential sites, but Ray Feldmann, spokesman for Gov. Parris N. Glendening, said later that the leading candidate is the Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville.
At the meeting, Schaefer departed from the agenda to ask David N. Bezanson, deputy secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, what other sites were being considered.
Bezanson declined to answer.
“I do not want to recommend one site over another,” he said. “We are continuing to evaluate a number of sites.”
But Schaefer said he wanted to know how each potential site differs from the original plan.
“Be prepared to justify any change because I’m a very strong proponent of Sykesville,” he said.
Glendening angered Carroll County residents and legislators earlier this year when he cancelled plans to put the training facility at the Springfield Hospital Center.
The governor scrapped the original location because it was inconsistent with his Smart Growth program, which is designed to curb urban sprawl and development. It is unknown when a new location will be named.
Friction between Schaefer, who preceded Glendening as governor, and Glendening is nothing new. Schaefer has challenged the governor’s decision to strike several projects because they don’t meet the criteria of the Smart Growth program. The comptroller also objected to Glendening’s inconsistent handling of two bypass roads in Montgomery and Carroll counties.
“What I worry about is that you’ll keep changing sites and you’re not going to build it for the next four years,” Schaefer said. “Just a word to the wise.”
Treasurer Richard Dixon, who is from Carroll County, also wants the center to remain in Sykesville.
“I’m a yes-man on everything Comptroller Schaefer said and I’ll be around for a long time,” Dixon said.
The state has already spent about $20 million building a police shooting range and driving track at the Sykesville facility, officials said. A new facility would include dormitories, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, an indoor firing range and classrooms. Police trainees would have to travel between both sites for training.
But many opponents to a new site say the training center should not be split between two locations.
Military operations have all their training in one site, and the police training center shouldn’t be any different, Dixon said.
“Of course I wouldn’t vote for it anywhere else,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”