Prince George's County officials have reached an agreement with the District of Columbia to purchase the 209-acre Glenn Dale Hospital site near Bowie for $3.95 million.

The land will remain undeveloped, according to officials. The county had considered selling it to a developer but has yielded instead to the wishes of neighbors to keep the land as open space.

The announcement yesterday by County Executive Parris N. Glendening concludes a long-running saga over the fate of the former District facility that operated first as a tuberculosis sanitarium and then as a nursing home for the chronically ill and disabled from the 1930s until it closed in 1972.

Since then, there have been periodic proposals to use the site for a District jail, drug treatment facility or, most recently, a $19.2 million, 10-acre health spa and health center for D.C. government employees.

The last proposal, made last spring, was quashed by the D.C. Council, concerned about the city's rising deficit and proposed tax increases.

"We could have had a District of Columbia federal prison or landfill on this vast property, which would clearly have been a disservice to surrounding communities and the entire county," Glendening said in a statement.

The purchase has been in the works since March 1988. However, the deal required congressional action because the land was leased to the District by the federal government. Legislation transferring title to the District was submitted by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and enacted in October 1988.

Prince George's officials had said then that the site, when acquired, would be used for homes and limited commercial development. However, two proposals were rejected last spring because of cost and density.

The site, containing woods, wetlands and abandoned asbestos-insulated buildings, is in a developing area at Route 450 and Glenn Dale Road. The acquisition requires approval by the County Council, which must first hold hearings.

The purchase price will be paid from property tax revenue. The price does not include $2.3 million to $4 million to remove the asbestos from the buildings and hazardous waste from the site.

The agreed-upon price is in line with the property's value as set by a District appraiser. An appraiser hired by the county valued the tract without the 10 acres for the training center at $2.85 million. At one point, the District had asked for "no less than" $10 million for the parcel.