July 14, 2011
Councilmember Valerie Ervin
100 Maryland Ave.
Rockville, MD 20850-2322
Dear Council President Ervin, County Council Education and PHED Committees,
The Rock Creek Hills Park is inadequate for the middle school that the Montgomery County BCC school cluster needs. This is been highlighted more strikingly at each successive feasibility study meeting held between the neighbors and the school system staff. No realistic solutions have been found that allow for a school building of the desired capacity and all its amenities, while preserving the safety and quality of life of students and their families, neighbors, retirement community residents, the environment and property. Enormous compromises would need to be made, and these will affect the students.
The process used by the Montgomery County school system to select the Rock Creek Hills Park has been a shambles from start to finish. There was no input from the affected communities at all, including the Maryland - National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, and apparently little attention was paid to the properties of the physical site to determine whether it is even adequate. The stated reason for selecting this site—the clawback clause in the property deed for the purpose of school building—is in ignorance of the last 30 years of history and of the existence and welfare of the Kensington Park retirement community that occupies a large fraction of the buildable land. The whole idea of seizing a well-used, beloved green park in a crowded urbanized area for a building of any kind is disrespectful of the elements that support a healthy, happy and productive life for its citizens. Soon, the only green space in our area will be Rock Creek Park (lovely, but dominated by a busy road) and the many private golf courses which are off-limits to all but their highly privileged members.
Planning appears to have been left to the last minute given school capacity requirements and the deadlines associated with county budget processes and other development projects around the county. Even given the enormous challenges currently faced by the Montgomery County school system, this does not speak well for its staff. This haste will simply result in a much larger waste of time, money and effort when the looming mistakes made in cramming a huge school onto a small, steeply-sloped, stream-side site in a small, restricted-access, sidewalk-poor residential neighborhood have to be fixed in the future.
Communication from the Montgomery County Board of Education to the various affected county and state agencies has been late, inadequate, and from every appearance, often inappropriate.
In summary, the entire planning process has been poor. The school site is inadequate. Money and time are being wasted. We respectfully request that the Board of Education be encouraged to work with the Maryland - National Capital Parks and Planning Commission to find a better site for B-CC middle school #2, and to put in place a process for choosing and developing future school sites that respects all the people of Montgomery County, and especially the needs, abilities, and aspirations of our children.
Maren R. Laughlin