Friday, May 20, 2011

"There is a far more constructive approach to this matter. "

[A May 18th letter from John M. Robinson, President, Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association, to Christopher S. Barclay, President, Montgomery County Board of Education, has been posted on the Rock Creek Hills Citizens' Association website; the text is reproduced here:]

Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association
9616 Old Spring Road
Kensington, MD 20895

May 18, 2011

Mr. Christopher S. Barclay
President, Board of Education
Montgomery Public Schools
850 Hungerford Drive, Room 123
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Dear Mr. Barclay:
On May 17, 2011, the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association held a special evening meeting to discuss the Board of Education's (the Board) proposal to build a new middle school in Rock Creek Local Park. Some 250 people attended the meeting, of whom 175 ultimately voted on this matter. The meeting began a 7:45 with a 15 minute presentation by Bruce Crispell, Joyce Jessell, and Janice Turpin, which focused on the site selection process and the feasibility study procedures that the Board staff would pursue regarding the proposed middle school. There followed a one hour question period regarding both the site selection process and feasibility study. The latter questions addressed possible participation by a community and specific concerns regarding the size and mass of the proposed school, the amount of recreational space involved, and possible traffic, noise, and environmental impacts. Your staff was unable to provide details on these particulars stating that they are issues that will be addressed by the feasibility study.
The meeting then debated two motions, one to oppose the proposed project and the second to accept it subject to a satisfactory feasibility study and design. Only some 20 votes supported the motion to support the proposed project out of 175 eligible voters. The balance, or approximately 150, voted to oppose the project. The Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association board was directed to request the Board to reopen the proceeding to re-examine other possible sites and to provide a reasonable opportunity for residents of Rock Creek Hills to address the Board on any site selection. The residents also directed their board to pursue two probable violations of the Maryland Open Meetings Act. These are (1) failing to provide adequate notice of the action taken at the Board of Education's April 28, 2011 meeting, and (2) holding a discussion of the proposed merits of the proposed middle school sites without the presence of the public during the Board's dinner of the same evening. The residents and the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association will be filing a complaint with the Maryland State Board of Education shortly regarding the Board's actions. In addition, at this juncture we must also oppose the transfer of the Rock Creek Local Park land to the Montgomery County School System and any appropriations to support the proposed middle school's design and construction.
There is a far more constructive approach to this matter. The Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association respectfully requests the Board to defer further action on its feasibility study and hold another hearing on this matter. This will provide us an adequate opportunity to explain to the Board our concerns about the use of Rock Creek Hills Local Park of the proposed new middle school, particularly traffic, environmental matters and the loss of the park space for this community and the numerous individuals from outside our community who also use it. This is the issue for us and not whether any potential middle school should be located in the Rosemary Hills community.
The membership continues to object strongly to the Board's failure to give them any reasonable opportunity to comment on proposed action that only became public early on the afternoon of April 28, 2011. This arbitrary action is in substantial measure the basis for the opposition the Board will encounter as it seeks to move the project forward.

Sincerely yours,
John M. Robinson
President, Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association

cc: Ms. Shirley Brandman - Vice-President
Mr. Phillip Kauffman - Board Member
Ms. Judith Docca - Board Member
Ms. Laura Berthiaume - Board Member
Ms. Patricia O'Neill - Board Member
Mr. Michael Durso - Board Member
Ms. Valerie Ervin, President, Montgomery County Council

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