Johnson Renews Push for Costly Lease
A proposal by Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson to lease out pricey private office space for public employees is back.
The controversial leasing arrangement had been set aside earlier this year after an outcry from critics who called it wasteful and ill-timed.
Council member Eric Olson (D-College Park) revived the plan at Johnson's request, asking the council to approve an annual $1 million payment for a ten-year lease of 38,000 square feet attached to a New Carrollton hotel.
The goal is to move employees in the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Redevelopment Authority from their existing county-owned locations in Largo to the rental space.
It's the same proposal that last year led union officials like Vince Canales, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, to raise concerns. Today he renewed his complaints, calling the measure "extremely exorbitant," especially when the county is about to impose a second year of government-wide furloughs and has cut staff to close a $113 million budget gap.
Johnson's spokesman James Keary said the move is necessary because it would allow the Department of Environmental Resources' permitting office -- now on the sixth floor of a county building in Largo -- to move to the first and second floors for easier access. He said traffic in that office, which issues over 40,000 permits a year, has reached burdensome proportions and has taxed elevators which break down frequently.
Keary also said the new space would promote economic development in New Carrollton, add convenience to customers since it is closer to a Metro stop and be easier to keep secure for county employees. The proposed space is attached to the newly renovated Four Points Sheraton Hotel.
Johnson and other officials toured the existing Largo offices with the council this morning in an effort to convince the members the move is needed.
Olson said he supports the measure because it will help revitalize the New Carrollton area. The hotel is in his district. A public hearing on the measure is scheduled for July 21 at 10 a.m.
-- Jonathan Mummolo
July 9, 2009; 3:46 PM ET
Categories: Prince George's County
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