Click here to go directly to the website of Potomac Almanac, where Ginny Barnes' letter to the editor, entitled "Community Blindsided," concerning the Brickyard property was printed on March 10, 2011.
A copy of this letter is quoted below:
Thursday, March 10, 2011
To the Editor:
The following letter was addressed to County Executive Isiah Leggett.
We have just learned that the school board is set to vote on Tuesday March 8 on the property on Brickyard Road -- the farm land on the right hand side between Kingsgate and Brent as you head towards the village. The school board resolution says: "The county intends to build and operate athletic fields at the site through a public/private
partnership with an athletic organization." The farmer, Nick Maravell, just learned that his lease would not be renewed after running an organic farm there for the last 31 years. A call to the Area 3 Team at Park and Planning revealed that MNCPPC knows nothing of the plan or the scheduled vote. This site was discussed extensively during the Potomac Master Plan Revision process with many concerns raised about potential future uses. The community expressed a clear preference for parkland if the site were not used for a school.
What is most troubling is the lack of any public process. The local community has not been informed or included in any way. It appears the Board of Education would grant a 10-year land lease to the County but could recover the land if needed for a school. After receiving the land lease, the County would then work with a private athletic organization in a public-private partnership to construct ball fields. The agenda documents were posted just two business days before a vote will be taken.
Having just recently endured a deeply contentious issue where Rockwood Manor was proposed to be given over to a public/private partnership with the same lack of a transparent process, we are distressed to see this happening again. This portends many of the same kind of problems revealed by that proposal. Brickyard is a 20-acre site, farmed organically for 31 years so the environment has been respected. But this is the other end of the spectrum. How many ball fields would this mean? Would they be artificial turf fields? Such fields can impact ground water. How many residents rely on wells? Where are the nearest streams? The questions are endless.
The Brickyard Road school site is buried within a residential neighborhood. Access to it is problematic since Brickyard Road is fitted with speed bumps, a number of round-abouts and no sidewalks.
Recent information from Parks and Recreation indicate little demand for ball fields in the Potomac Subregion. However there is a strong demand in the upcounty and the downcounty. So, will traffic be brought through a residential area of narrow winding roads without any regard for the local community? What kind of public/private athletic partnership is intended? What kind of ballfields? Are we looking at another Soccerplex project without the slightest attempt at a public process? Before any vote takes place before the School Board, we would expect to be informed about a project that will likely have a huge impact on the entire Potomac community. We have heard your office is the originator of this plan. If so, please see this vote does not take place "in a fog in the dead of night." At the very least, we deserve appropriate notice, complete information, adequate discussion and input from the affected neighborhoods and a public process that respects and prepares our community instead of sneaking up on it.
President, West Montgomery County Citizens Association
All content on the website of Nick’s Organic Farm is original and the property of Nick’s Organic Farm, unless otherwise indicated.