It was in early March when our community and Nick Maravell, who has leased the Brickyard Road Middle School site for 31 years, learned – just two days before the Board of Education vote – that there was a plan to lease the site to the county for ball fields. Despite protests from the public, the BOE vote went forward. Later we learned the objective would be soccer fields, and that since 2009 the County has been in communication with soccer organizations about using this site. The public was neither informed nor engaged
At the March 9th WMCCA General meeting, several representatives of the County Executive's office attended and assured our distressed community there would be opportunity for input, especially in determining additional amenities on the site such as a playground, picnic area, etc. They also announced at least two formal public meetings would be held. The first of those meetings at Potomac Elementary School on April 4th attracted 200 people. At that meeting we were assured by David Dice that the County Executive Office wanted our input about additional uses. Dice even said that if, in satisfying the additional recreational needs of the local community, they could not fit enough soccer fields to make the public/private partnership viable to a soccer organization, then perhaps, as he put it, "The juice would not be worth the squeeze."
At the time of the April 4th public meeting. the lease between MCPS and the County Executive had not been signed and the public was not allowed to see it, despite numerous requests from citizens and this Association. Now we know the substance of it. In addition to a two-year deception deliberately perpetrated on the public and violation of our Master Plan language regarding the 20-acre property which, if properly interpreted, would have surplused it as a school site and provided a proper public process through Park and Planning to determine what park amenities best served the community, we can now add outright lies. The lease designates only ball fields. It states, "The County or its agents shall use the leased premises solely for ball fields and improvements associated with that use such as a parking lot and amenity facility." No sharing the site with a scaled-back organic farm. No playground, no community gardens, no nature. Only ball fields.
In a parallel issue last week regarding Rosemary Hills-Lyttonsville Local Park, the BOE endeavored to serve the Bethesda Chevy Chase area with a site selection process that involved “taking” that park for a new middle school. In a well reasoned but impassioned letter to the President of the BOE, Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier said: "We cannot sanction the conversion of parkland we are pledged to protect and preserve." Due to public outcry and a letter from County Executive Ike Leggett, Rosemary Hills Local Park was spared, but Rock Creek Forest Park in Kensington identified as a substitute for the Rosemary Hills Park. Because the County Executive and the BOE completely circumvented our Master Plan, ignored our community and then lied to us, we do not even have a process available to fight for this open space if it is not slated to become a school. With the signing of this lease, the deception is complete
Fortunately, our community is strong and resourceful. We have not been afforded a fair or transparent process by either the school system or our government. We have to see that we are treated justly. So far, over 50 members of our community have appealed to the Maryland Board of Education the vote taken on March 8th by the Montgomery County Board of Education. Other county civic organizations are suggesting possible ethics violations. Converting a legitimate school site to what is basically a commercial recreational use without a public process and by deliberately misconstruing Master Plan language is not a precedent we can allow to stand. The "unintended consequences" to communities and Master Plans throughout the county is far too great.
Election of WMCCA Officers and Board
The Nominating Committee proposes the following slate of WMCCA Officers and Directors to the membership for a vote at our May 11 meeting. Nominations may also be made from the floor.
President: Susanne Lee
President Elect: Shawn Justement;
Vice President: Betsi Dahan;
Immediate Past President: Ginny Barnes
Treasurer: George Barnes;
Secretary; Kate Anderson and Mike Denker;
Newsletter: Lois Williams
Directors nominated for a two-year term: Mike Denker, Cynthia Fain, John Yassin, Barbara Hoover
Directors serving second year of a two-year term: Ellie Pisarra Cain, Diana Conway, Carol Falk
About WMCCA:WMCCA is your umbrella civic voice for Potomac. We uphold the principles of our Master Plan to protect our low-density zoning, our two-lane and rustic road system and our plentiful environmental resources. We monitor development plans and shape policies that ensure we maintain our community as it was envisioned – as the western residential green buffer to the Agricultural Reserve. With our abundant forests, wetlands, streams and parkland, we enjoy a quality of life unique in Montgomery County. WMCCA works to keep it that way. Please join us.
West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
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