“Lack of Transparency Continues with Brickyard Lease”
April 25, 2011
Let the following facts be clear:
·The Board of Education (BOE) of Montgomery County (MC) has NOT declared the Brickyard Middle School site “surplus” and no longer needed by the school system—as inaccurately stated in an email dated April 6, 2011 to MSI membership from Doug Schuessler, MSI Executive Director. “This site is owned by the school system, property that the school board has deemed to be surplus to current needs, and as such have leased to the County for development of soccer fields…,” Schuessler wrote. In order to declare a school site surplus and no longer needed for school purposes, the School Board must go through a public process. This open public process has never taken place.
The record shows that in October 2003, County Executive Doug Duncan formally requested that the BOE declare this site surplus. However, in March 2004, a BOE resolution was adopted unanimously to take no action on the disposition of the Brickyard Road site. There has been no subsequent public action to declare this site surplus.
Furthermore, the BOE has stipulated that the lease to the County is for 10 years, and the BOE can reclaim the land during that time if it is needed sooner for the schools.
·The Potomac Subregion Master Plan does not identify the Brickyard School site as a ball-fields only site suitable for serving other parts of the County.(Leggett stated, “The Master Plan specifically points to the Brickyard site as suitable for ball fields,” in an email/letter to concerned citizens, which was also published in Potomac Almanac’s April 13-19, 2011, issue.)
The ball field proposal fails to meet the Master Plan guidance, both under the definition of “local park” and the requirement that a local park be placed on a “surplus” school site. The Master Plan suggests one of many uses for the Brickyard site would be a “local park” with ball fields. The Master Plan goes on to state school sites “could be developed as local parks with ball fields or other recreational uses.” This means local parks with ball fields OR local parks with other recreational uses. It does NOT mean recreational uses without a local park.
“Local park” is a specifically defined term: “Parks in this category serve the residents of the surrounding communities.” The Brickyard school site is only 20 acres, far smaller than required for a “County-wide Recreational Park,” which is at least 50 acres in size and can “serve all residents of Montgomery County.”
The exact and complete wording of the Master Plan is: “Surplus and future school sites offer potential for fulfilling some of the recreation needs of the Potomac Subregion. All school sites not otherwise recommended in this plan for environmental conservation should be considered for other public uses, including park land, if they are declared as surplus. The Brickyard Junior High School, Kendall Elementary School, and Churchill Elementary School could be developed as local parks with ball fields or other recreational uses.(Recreational uses should be evaluated along with other public uses identified elsewhere in this Plan to determine the priority use for each available site.) Any site acquired for parkland should be evaluated to determine whether it is appropriate for recreational opportunities (e.g. trails, ball fields, etc.)."
·The Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission statistics show the least need for ball fields is in the Potomac Subregion.County Executive Leggett’s email/letter notes that “The Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission in its 2005 PROS plan referenced the need for more multipurpose rectangular fields, especially in the Down County,” further supporting the fact that the greatest need for ball fields is not in the Potomac Subregion. Since the words “Down County” do not appear anywhere in the report, it is more accurate to refer to the three areas of greatest demand, representing over two thirds of the needed rectangular playing fields: Bethesda/Chevy Chase, I-270, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring.Potomac represents only approximately 6.4% of the total county need or a lack of 4.6 adult fields, while it has 4.1 excess youth fields.After the completion of the additional soccer field at the Potomac Community Center, and the planned soccer field at the unbuilt Greenbirier local park at Glen and Travillah Roads, Potomac will represent only about 3.5% of the total county unmet needs for adult fields.