East Bethesda Lynbrook Park Middle School Shake Up

Middle School site selectionWow, just when you think you know everything, the Planning Board comes along and screws around with your predictions!  In my last several blogs discussing the ongoing middle school site selection, I hastily suggested that the Rock Creek Hills site was almost a done deal. This came on the heels of a strong recommendation from the Site Selection Advisory Committees and the Superintendent. How wrong I appear to have been:

Last night the Montgomery County Planning Board met for a mandatory review of the Superintendent’s recommendation to build the new middle school on the Rock Creek Hills site.

They voted 4 to 1, that while recognizing the right of reclaim on the Rock Creek Hills Park, that rather MCPS reconsider Lynbrook Park as the site for the new B-CC Middle School.

The Planning Board said this would provide a good outcome to both county agencies. MCPS would get their Middle School and Parks and Planning would keep their park (RCHP) with 2 full size soccer pitches in exchange for losing a lesser used park (!!! my exclamation points!) with one overlaid baseball/ soccer pitch.

Lynbrook was eliminated from consideration by the Site Selection Advisory Committee (SSAC) for many reasons including: inadequate acreage to build a middle school, inadequate street width for middle school buses and most importantly the fields at Lynbrook are used by B-CC High School for sports practices after school.

The Board of Education meets next Tuesday (April 17) beginning at 10am to consider and vote on the Superintendent’s report on the site selection for the Middle School. Please consider attending, sign up to give testimony (public testimony will run from 10:15-10:45am) or email your comments to the Board of Education.

I’m not sure where the planning board figures into the decision making process, or what weight their recommendation will have on the final outcome.  I suspect they are merely trying to protect their park.  My concern with the Lynbrook site, in addition to those already raised (plot size, traffic), center around East Bethesda’s ability to absorb two schools within its’ boundaries. It’s a lot to ask of any community. And do we really want a middle school so close to the high school? Shouldn’t the BOE reserve this site for a future elementary school, which will surely be needed down the road?

I am really disappointed that the planning board didn’t raise their objections sooner.  At this stage in the game it reeks of desperation and opens a real can of worms.  Stay tuned.

Bethesda Patch Story on Planning Board

6 thoughts on “East Bethesda Lynbrook Park Middle School Shake Up

  • April 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    The Planning Board is actually ‘planning’ with this decision. Parks Dept. could have protected its turf and said ‘no parks that don’t have reclamation clauses’. Instead they said, yes you have the right to that park (RCHP), but let’s look an an option to minimize loss of recreation for the whole county. This is what we should ask of our govt. agencies. These are decisions that should be decided by professional planners and not SSAC amateurs.

    We should expect agencies to bring what they own to meet the current challenge. Holding back the property (for 30 years) for a future need is irresponsible. Other leased sites will open in the future- Rollingwood, etc, so no worries there. Lynnbrook has 8 MCPS bus routes coming to the private day care center every day , so ‘inadequate streets’ are not an issue. MCPS has asked for 10.1 and acres with antiquated plans that don’t recognize the urban nature of down county. Planning board has offered ROW to increase size of site.
    Lynnbrook has been a school property for 70 years. It’s time to be a school once again.

  • April 12, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Thanks for commenting. Obviously, there are plenty of different opinions out there, mine included. The important next step is to make sure that your opinions are heard!

    The County Council will also vote on this matter in mid-May. It is important to voice your opinion on this matter and make sure that the Board of Education and the County Council know your position and the importance of providing capacity in our ever-growing cluster.

    The BOE meeting is:
    Board of Education – Tuesday April 17th 9:00 AM
    850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville
    Public Comments 10:15 AM
    Site Selection 11:00 AM

    To testify, call 301-279-3617 at 10:00 AM on Monday April 16th. (Sign-up for this item ends at 10:30, so call at 10:00 a.m. for the best chance to get a slot to testify.)
    Send your views via email: BOE@MCPSMD.org

    If you wish to communicate with the County Council, the information is listed below:
    District 1 Bethesda/Chevy Chase – Roger Berliner (councilmember.berliner@montgomerycountymd.gov)
    District 5 Silver Spring – Valerie Ervin (councilmember.ervin@montgomerycountymd.gov)

    As well the County Council At Large representatives:

    Marc Elrich (councilmember.elrich@montgomerycountymd.gov)
    Nancy Floreen (councilmember.floreen@montgomerycountymd.gov)
    George Leventhal (councilmember.leventhal@montgomerycountymd.gov)
    Hans Riemer (councilmember.riemer@montgomerycountymd.gov)
    Montgomery County Executive, Ike Leggett (ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov)

  • April 12, 2012 at 9:19 am

    “I am really disappointed that the planning board didn’t raise their objections sooner. At this stage in the game it reeks of desperation and opens a real can of worms. Stay tuned.”

    I am confused by your above sentence. What exactly do you mean by reeks of desperation and open a can of worms. Can you please explain?

    Also, the staff from Parks Dept. did mention the Lynnbrook site on the very first meeting of the SSAC. I was at all four meetings and completely understood that is where they felt siting a middle school would make the most sense. Problem was no one was listening.

  • April 12, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    47 individuals from varying communities within the BCC cluster met for months (SSAC) to discuss possible solutions to the middle school site selection. While the planning committee may well have voiced their opinions in advance of their public comment, given their preferred site recommendations (one with highway proximity issues, one in an out of cluster location, and Lynbrook Park/too small), they seem to have a very limited grasp of the considerations necessary for a school site selection. So, yes, I think this panel of 5 individuals (a.k.a. the planning committee) is trying to make a bit of a statement with their recommendation, and yes, it opens a can of worms. 47 vs. 5 speaks pretty strongly to me. I support Superintendent Starr’s (and the SSAC committee) recommendation. I also encourage everyone to submit their opinion to the BOE (BOE@MCPSMD.org) prior to the April 17 meeting.

  • April 14, 2012 at 8:06 am

    I do not support either the SSAC or Starr’s recommendation. I was at all 4 meetings, the 47 people were NOT unanimous, the MCPS voting block of 9 always “led the way”. Additionally, misinformation was rampant.

    I support the use of BOE property, Lynnbrook for a school. Let’s be honest, no one wants a middle school in their neighborhood, so this is not about a site being too small. The staff for the planning board made a very detailed (unlike staff from MCPS) presentation showing how the school with the current MCPS specs could work on the Lynnbrook site.

    And just to be clear, I do not live in Kensington, near the top choice of the SSAC, but I also don’t believe that we should be turning to parks to fill our needs for schools. So, yes, I would pick Lynnbrook school over RCH local park.

    The real can of worms would be taking park land every time we need a new school, that is a Pandora’s box that could come to haunt every one of us.

  • April 19, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Lynbrook was an elementary school once. RCH was a middle school once. It’s not an easy decision, for anyone.

    Update: On April 17 the Board of Education unanimously voted to place the new middle school on the RCH site.

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