The prospect of building a new Arlington police station on the Army's Arlington Hall Station diminished last night as County Board members indicated that they would prefer to use the compound for recreational purposes only.

Meeting with civic associations at an informal forum, board members emphasized that they will not vote until April 12, when a public hearing is to be held on possible uses of the land and on where to locate a new police station.

But board members' heads nodded in agreement when member John G. Milliken said he would prefer that the county look to other sites for a new police station. He said he hoped county officials would continue to work with the neighborhoods near the 87-acre compound on planning recreational uses.

All but 15 acres of the Army compound, which now houses some intelligence activities, are to be transferred in a few years to the State Department's Foreign Service Institute, which has indicated a willingness to let the county use some of the land. The compound is on Arlington Boulevard between Glebe Road and George Mason Drive.

Preliminary negotiations between the county and the institute have centered on a six-acre parcel west of George Mason Drive and an undetermined amount of a 22-acre site west of the road.

The six-acre parcel was once considered the first choice for the police station, but citizen opposition to that idea has grown. The police department, now located in part of the county courthouse complex, must be moved to make room for a new mixed-use high-rise complex.

"While I believe that a police station could be designed that would be a good neighbor and would be welcomed by those who live nearby," Milliken said, "I would prefer that [it] be located nearer to the rest of the county government" where the courts and prosecutor's office will remain.

The county, he added, is "committed to working with the neighborhood" to develop proposals for recreational facilities and parks on whatever land it may get.

County Manager Larry J. Brown said at least two other sites are being considered for a new station -- a parking lot east of the courthouse and a vacant lot at Washington Boulevard and N. 10th Street, where neighbors have said they would welcome a new station.