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Printing plant could house criminals

November 30, 1999|By TARA REILLY

Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore is proposing the county buy the Phoenix Color building on Tandy Drive to expand the Washington County Detention Center.

The county's preliminary capital budget for fiscal years 2008 to 2013 lists the cost of the building as $5.5 million.

A consistent lack of space, in particular for male inmates, is driving the need for a larger jail, Mullendore said Thursday.

"Unfortunately, we just do not have any room," Mullendore said.

The building at 101 Tandy Drive, just off Western Maryland Parkway near the detention center, is 83,900 square feet, Mullendore said.

The property has been on the market for a while, and Phoenix Color has moved most of its operations into its Phoenix Drive site near Hagerstown Regional Airport, Mullendore said.

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Phoenix Color's estimating and billing departments remain in the Tandy Drive building, according to the company's Web site.

The detention center has 330 beds for male inmates and 71 for female inmates, but it's been over capacity for a year, Mullendore said.

"We've already bursted past the seams ..." Mullendore said.

If the county commissioners approve the proposal, the preliminary plan would be to connect the Tandy Drive building to the detention center. The Washington County Sheriff's Department is planning to hire an architect soon to work on a feasibility plan for the proposed expansion.

Mullendore said he hopes the sale takes place in fiscal year 2008, which begins July 1.

The sheriff's department also would apply to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for money to renovate the building, he said.

Buying and renovating the Phoenix Color building would be cheaper than buying land and constructing a new detention center, Mullendore said.

County Commissioners President John F. Barr said, as of now, the only option being considered is the sheriff's department's proposal.

"There's no immediate other option, short of relocating, but that's not a good option," Barr said.

There are other potential buyers looking at the Phoenix Color building, so Barr anticipates the commissioners to discuss the matter in detail, he said.

"If somebody else puts the contract on it, it's ... off the table for us," he said.

Barr said he understood the need for more space at the detention center.

"They're maxed out," Barr said. "Actually, they're over capacity on a daily basis."

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