Monday, June 13, 2011

How much thought would you have given to this?

(Soccer in Rock Creek Hills Park; in the background is the Kensington Park retirement community.)

Suppose there were hundreds of senior citizens living in a facility right next to (practically "in") a public park, and that it was your job to replace their park setting with a middle school complex. How would you proceed? What would be important? Wouldn't you be especially careful about the well-being and safety of the seniors?

Background: On April 28th our County Board of Ed voted to build a middle school on the site of Rock Creek Hills Park, on May 23rd they awarded an architectural contract, on June 8th a "facility advisory committee", part of a "feasibility study" process, met for the first time.

The park's nearest neighbors are the residents of the Kensington Park retirement community, which stands on much of the site of the old Kensington Junior High School (KJH). In the '80s, the KJH site was broken up, with about the northern third deeded to the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC), which financed with tax exempt bonds the building of a facility providing independent living, assisted living, and Alzheimer's care to over 200 senior citizens:

(The retirement community stands on much of the old school site. Compared to the old KJH site, Rock Creek Hills Park is much smaller; lacks road access to the North; and lacks a through North-South roadway. The park site is inadequate for the proposed 1200-student school, let alone to allow for peaceful and appropriate co-existence with its senior or other neighbors.)

Question: In the 41 days between the Board vote on April 28th, and the "FAC" meeting on June 8th, how much thought had the Board & MCPS given to protecting the residents of Kensington Park from the effects of what is estimated to be a two-year period of construction?

Answer: None.

See for yourself. Here's MCPS Project Manager Dennis Cross on June 8th:

("That has not been an issue that's been brought up.")

So, it appears that no one from MCPS or the Board gave any thought to protecting the seniors from the effects of what is estimated to be a two-year period of construction. This may not be surprising, given the fact that the Board did not notify anyone at Kensington Park before their April 28th vote to build a school on the site of the park.

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