Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Please ... work with the Parks & Planning Commission to find a 'better way'." [Testimony at today's Board of Ed meeting]

Good morning, Dr. Starr, Mr. Barclay, and members of the Board.

My name is James Pekar, and today I am here to ask you please to build a school that will meet the projected need for classroom space for 1200 middle school students. The school that MCPS staff propose to replace Rock Creek Hills Park is too small, and challenges associated with the site would not represent prudent use of taxpayer dollars.

Consultation with the County Council confirms that it is possible to use a "placeholder" for a new BCC middle school in the upcoming Capital Improvement Program, and I encourage you to work with the Council to exercise this option.

The process of developing the plan for the middle school has been flawed from the beginning, and appears inconsistent with your policies, your regulations, and state law. As Planning Board Chairperson Carrier has informed you, there may be state and federal impediments to conversion of the site to non-park use. The appeal pending before the State Board of Education raises questions about the availability of the site. Given these outstanding questions, a CIP proposal for a school on the site of Rock Creek Hills Park would simply not be prudent.

Parks Director Bradford has said that a middle school would "obliterate" Rock Creek Hills Park, and offered: "We want to work to find a better way." Of course, the "better way" would yield a better school.

Please, make the prudent choice, spare a small park that is very important to many Montgomery County citizens, and build a better school on a better site. Please, work with the County Council on a CIP placeholder, and work with the Parks & Planning Commission to find a "better way".

Thank you.

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