Monday, July 25, 2011

"... please don't build a costly and deficient school on this little park." [testimony at tonight's Board of Education meeting]

Good evening Dr. Starr, Mr. Barclay, and members of the Board. My name is James Pekar.

Dr. Starr, I'm here tonight to welcome you to Montgomery County, and to ask you not to build a middle school that would be uniquely inadequate, county wide, on the site of Rock Creek Hills Park. Such a school would be the middle school on the smallest site, in the entire county, without an adjacent (or "co-located") park to provide space for outdoor recreation and athletics.

Please note that descriptions of the park as "the former middle school site" or a "site that formerly housed a school", and so forth, are inaccurate, incomplete, and misleading. The "previous location of Kensington Junior High School" included what is today the location of the Kensington Park retirement community. When the KJH site was broken up, about eight acres were deeded to the Housing Opportunities Commission, which financed with tax-exempt bounds the building of the senior housing, which stands on much of the "footprint" of the old school. This took about a third of the former school site; took the road access to the North; and severed what had been a through North-South roadway – all rendering the remainder, Rock Creek Hills Park, remarkably deficient as a potential middle school site.

Dr. Starr, and members of the Board, please don't build a costly and deficient school on this little park. Please, work with the Parks and Planing Commission to find a site for the school our County's children deserve. Please, embrace opportunities to identify creative solutions. Please, create a school that will support out students with offerings that will be equitable with those at Westland middle school, and with other middle schools in our County.

Thank you.

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