No date set for police station’s move to Eastwood
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 12:44

While the North Point Police Precinct is expected to move to Eastwood, a date has still not been set. file photo

Schedule for police relocation is still uncertain 

by Ben Boehl

    Now that the Baltimore County Council has approved the sale of the North Point Government Center property to Vanguard Commercial Development Inc., the Dundalk community awaits word on the future of the North Point Police Precinct.
    When the county announced the Government Center was up for sale, the plan was to move North Point Police Precinct 12 to the building of the old Eastwood Magnet Elementary School, which was closed at the end of the 2012-13 school year.         The magnet program at Eastwood has been relocated to Holabird Middle and Norwood Elementary schools.
    Eastwood has also been the regular host of Eastwood Residents and Business Association of Baltimore County and Eastwood Community Civic Association meetings, and has been home to the local polling place.
    County government spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said the community association meetings will continue to be held at the Eastwood building, as they have since the county took over the building from the Board of Education in September, but the county has not decided if the former school will remain as a voting site.
    “The plan is to accommodate community meetings. We don’t have any voting precincts located at police stations, but no decisions have been made yet regarding the polling place,” Kobler said.
    Precinct 12 commander Capt. Jan Brown answered questions about the police station’s planned move at a Norwood Holabird Community Association (NHCA) meeting in mid-December.
    Brown said he is not involved with the talks and has not been given a date for the relocation of the police precinct, but added that it looks as if the move will happen.
    “It is what it is. We are going to move there” Brown said. “Decisions are being made, and it is not my business [to be involved with the talks], but we will try to make it work.”
    Kobler added that the county has still not determined when the move will take place as “no detailed schedule [has been] identified yet.”
    Brown also said he is not sure if the Tactical and K-9 units will move from the Government Center to Eastwood or to another site.
    Kobler responded that a decision has not been made about those units, but said the police department is the only county agency scheduled to move into the Eastwood building.
    The Government Center building is also the home of 7th District County Councilman John Olszewski Sr.’s local office.
    The choice of the Eastwood location has been criticized by many residents, including the opposition group Dundalk United, for not being a centralized location.
    County Executive Kevin Kamenetz responded to those criticisms in the spring by saying that patrol cars are stationed throughout the precinct and police response times will not be shortened as a result of the move to Eastwood.
    There has also been questions as to why the county would move from a 60-year-old building at the North Point Government Center to a 49-year-old building in Eastwood.
    Kamenetz said the county will spend $5 million on renovations to the Eastwood building.
    In 2008, Baltimore County constructed a new building for Parkville Precinct 8 that was reportedly built for around $5 million.
    Kobler explained the county decided to renovate a larger facility instead of building a new facility.
    “It is much more cost-effective for the County to renovate a 38,000-square-foot building than to build a new 18-to-20,000-square-foot building,” she said.
    John Ayres, outgoing president of the Norwood Holabird Community Association, said he wanted to see the police station and the police academy — currently located at CCBC Dundalk — move to the Seagram’s site.
    Ayres said the location would have been more centralized for the police station and argued that the college needs the space back and said he believes it would be best to move the academy out of the college campus.
    “If I had my way, the academy and the precinct would have been relocated to Seagram’s,” Ayres said.         “I tried, but with the politics being the way it is, it is not going to happen.”
    The idea of moving the  police station to the Seagram’s site was first bought up by Seagram’s property owner John Vontran.
    He tentatively proposed a “swap” with Baltimore County in which he would take over the Government Center land to place retail at the site. In return, the police station and recreation programs would have moved to the Seagram’s site.
    When Baltimore County announced the plan to sell the Government Center, Vontran and his Sollers Investors LLC group submitted a similar proposal in an official bid that included taking over the Government Center site for retail development and moving the recreation programs and athletic fields to Seagram’s.
    The official bid did not include any relocation plans for the police station, as Vontran said it appeared that the county had already had committed to moving Precinct 12 to Eastwood.
    Sollers Investors lost that bid to Vanguard, and Vontran told The Eagle he has no plans to try to persuade the county to again consider moving the police station to Seagram’s.
    “At this point, it seems as if the county is hell-bent on having the police station in Eastwood,” he said.
    Kobler said the Eastwood site was the best location available for the county.
    “Eastwood was chosen to make use of existing county space,” Kobler added.