Good evening, Dr. Starr, President Brandman, and members of the Board.
My name is James Pekar, and I am here again to ask you not to build a middle school on the site of Rock Creek Hills Park, which fails to meet the overwhelming majority of your middle school site evaluation criteria.
The recently concluded site selection advisory process gave committee members the opportunity to file Minority Reports. I would like to call to your attention two dissenting Minority Reports filed by members of our Park and Planning Commission. These officials have a broad stewardship responsibility; they are charged with balancing greater community interests. When they point to a flawed process, weak analysis, and a directed result, it is our duty to take note. [Copies of their reports are attached to my written testimony.]
Ms. Brooke Farquhar, Supervisor, Park and Trail Planning with the Parks Department, writes, in part: "Costs were not thoroughly evaluated in the process and misinformation may have prejudiced the votes of committee members.... The process lacked a robust analysis. The potential sites should have been analyzed more thoroughly, based on detailed information that would allow consistent comparison across the sites."
Mr. Frederick V. Boyd, Community Planner with the Planning Board, writes, in part: "Implicit throughout committee discussions was the idea that a decision had to be made quickly… [T]he rating process used for selecting sites did not provide a real opportunity to consider the community character and quality of life consequences of choosing a candidate site. Six of the eight criteria considered specific physical qualities of a site — its location, size, topography, access, availability of utilities and physical condition — in isolation from its neighborhood and from broader issues of recreation and environmental stewardship. The remaining two — availability and cost — are equally aimed at specific properties. Indeed, their descriptions appear to have been written to enable easier consideration of some public sites; cost is defined as 'The cost to acquire a site is considered, compared to sites that may be in public ownership.' This implies that there are fewer acquisition or other costs associated with public ownership than with private sites."
The capital budget approved by our County Council for B-CC middle school #2 has the first spending occurring on the design phase, in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which is more than a year from now. So, without endangering the planned 2017 opening date, there is time to find a location superior to the site of Rock Creek Hills Park, which fails to meet the overwhelming majority of your middle school site evaluation criteria.