Thursday, April 26, 2012

Board of Education member: Rock Creek Hills Park not "adequate size," so Montgomery Hills site would also be needed.

Ms. Françoise Carrier, Chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board, attended the April 17th meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Education. There, Board of Education member Ms. Laura Berthiaume told Ms. Carrier that, due to the small size of Rock Creek Hills Park, if Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) were to take the park to build B-CC middle school #2, then it would soon become necessary to build a third B-CC middle school, on the site of the former Montgomery Hills Junior High (currently the Yeshiva and Torah School of Greater Washington).

Ms. Laura Berthiaume, Member of the Montgomery County Board of Education:
"Our duty is to build a school sufficient to the needs of our future population. If we were to come back and say what we think is, because there's more land at North Chevy Chase, if you would be willing to talk with us about that, there would be adequate size to build, to only build once, rather than going back in seven years for the Montgomery Hills Junior High site, which I project would be necessary – "
Ms. Françoise Carrier, Chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board:
"For the middle school?"
LB: "For a third middle school because there's just not going to be enough room – "
FC: "At the Rock Creek [Hills] site you mean?"
LB: "Yes, eventually. "
FC: "Well, that would certainly be a shame."
Ms. Carrier  told Ms. Berthiaume and the other members of the Board of Education that the Planning Board was willing to discuss the much larger North Chevy Chase Local Park, MCPS's recommended alternate site, in order to minimize impacts on park users:
LB: "It was suggested in some of the testimony that Parks and Planning is open to negotiations... What I want to know is... having looked at an aerial [photograph] of North Chevy Chase, there's lots of land there, and not much actual facilities in terms of park facilities. It looks to me like it wouldn't be that hard to put a school at the back of it. Is Parks and Planning willing to negotiate to take a look at a joint use of that site, rather than get into loggerheads over Rock Creek Hills or Lynnbroook?"
FC"I think we're certainly willing to negotiate about North Chevy Chase..."
However, the Board of Education declined to discuss the issue further with the Planning Board.  (The first year of appropriation for the project is 2014; there's time to consider Planning Board options.)  Instead, in a decision that appears arbitrary and capricious, the Board of Education voted at that meeting to take Rock Creek Hills Park, even though the MCPS recommended alternate site is much larger, better comports with site evaluation criteria, and would likely reduce construction costs by $4-6 million.

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