In November, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr wrote: "As we enter into a new site selection process for the new middle school, a priority is to avoid the pitfalls we experienced on the Rock Creek Hills Local Park site selection." Accurate descriptions of candidate sites are critical to avoid the pitfalls of the last site selection. Unfortunately, the new MCPS description of Rock Creek Hills Park (which forms part of the official starting point for site evaluation by the new site selection advisory committee) contains significant factual inaccuracies:
The MCPS description of Rock Creek Hills Park as "Formerly Kensington Junior High School" does not reflect current land use:
Housing Opportunities Commission, which built the Kensington Park Retirement Community on much of the footprint of the old school. The remainder of the former school site (minus one-third of the land, road access to the North, and a through roadway) was developed into Rock Creek Hills Park.
The MCPS description of Rock Creek Hills Park topography states: “Level area with lower level additional parking. Generally slopes towards stream valley to the west.” That's inaccurate. Look:
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The MCPS description of Rock Creek Hills Park states that the park has two access roads. That's misleading. As seen on the map (above), from the standpoint of physical roadways, there is no arterial road, and there really is only one road along the park, which changes naming conventions. Haverhill is merely a small connection road between Littledale and Saul Roads. Had the developers chosen to name the right fork of the traffic triangle Haverhill and the left fork Saul, we would be speaking of only one road. In contrast, other candidate sites have multiple physical roadways.
The MCPS description of Rock Creek Hills Park states that the only "constraints" are the use of the site as a park, and its topography. That's wrong. Look:
The MCPS description of Rock Creek Hills Park states that its "availability" is "unknown". As stated above, Federal and/or State law create significant uncertainly regarding the legal availability of the site for construction, which should be acknowledged.
Recently, our community representatives brought these and other site description errors and concerns to the attention of MCPS with a request for clarification. Unfortunately, the site descriptions will not be clarified in time for tonight's meeting. We hope that MCPS will correct these important inaccuracies. After all, an official MCPS "Core Value" (from "Our Call to Action: Pursuit of Excellence. The Strategic Plan for the Montgomery County Public Schools") is: "MCPS demonstrates commitment to continuous improvement by reviewing, evaluating, and improving our work..." And, as Dr. Starr has said, "... we are never fully absolved from our responsibility to make things better."