Residents opposed to a plan that would put a new middle school on the site of a Kensington park will appeal a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge’s ruling in favor of Montgomery County Public Schools.
John Robinson, president of the Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association, announced on Sunday that the group will appeal the decision made in April by Judge Ronald Rubin, who issued a a declaratory judgment saying the transfer of the land from MCPS to the county Parks Department violated no federal law or statute.
The Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association wants Rock Creek Hills Local Park (3701 Saul Rd.) maintained as a park.
The group has challenged the MCPS decision to build there at virtually every step, prompting superintendent Joshua Starr to start a new site selection process, filing an unsuccessful appeal with the Maryland State Board of Education and last September filing the suit.
MCPS claims it can build on the park because the Board of Education owns it. It is the site of a former MCPS school, but the school system transferred the land to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC).
When M-NCPPC developed the park in the early 90s, it accepted funds from Program Open Space (POS), which uses funds from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Park supporters have argued the use of POS funds was inconsistent with the reclamation terms of the transfer agreement under which M-NCPPC took title to the property. This was the case since use of these funds places restrictions on future public use of parks, in contradiction with the terms of the original transfer agreement.
Robinson said Judge Rubin was mistaken in his ruling, and that the group still thinks MCPS violated statutes by not having further review done by state agencies:
Dear Members,As you are aware, on April 11, 2013, Judge Rubin made on oral ruling against the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association and the individual plaintiffs on matters relating to the proposed conversion of Rock Creek Hills Local Park.
On April 23, 2013, Judge Rubin entered a 13 page written Declaratory Judgement stating his reasons. Counsel, the Association, and the individual plaintiffs have reviewed the April 23 order carefully and have again concluded that the Court’s erred in ruling that (1) the plaintiffs have no standing to challenge the proposed conversion, (2) the Board of Education has a valid reclaim right to the park, and (3) the government defendants did not violate any statutes in deciding to convert the park without further review by the state agencies having statutory jurisdiction over the proposed conversion. Therefore the Association and the individual plaintiffs are appealing the April 23 order. In addition, the Association’s park litigation fund has the resources to pay all its current obligations and has accumulated a modest reserve for the initial phase of the appeal.
John M. Robinson
9616 Old Spring Road
Kensington, MD 20895
Parents on MCPS’ school site selection committee have argued the group’s continued opposition is holding up the process for a much-needed school.
MCPS is planning for the new middle school to open in August 2017 to deal with over-enrollment at Westland Middle School and the reassignment of Grade 6 students from Chevy Chase and North Chevy Chase Elementary Schools.
Westland received a six-classroom addition in the 2009-2010 school year, but as the only middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School cluster was 136 students over its 1,063 capacity this year. MCPS is projecting 1,600 middle school students in the cluster when the Grade 6 reassignments are made.
“This suit always struck me as incredibly frivolous,” said Rafe Petersen, a PTA Board member of Rosemary Hills Primary School with three kids in the school cluster. “A lot of us think it’s a little bit selfish of the people in that neighborhood. This after all is public land.”
A Wider Circle’s 4K run/walk and tot trot fundraiser is set for April 27 at Meadowbrook Park (7901 Meadowbrook Lane) in Chevy Chase.
The Race To End Poverty will start at 9 a.m. and the Silver Spring-based charity is hoping to raise $20,000 through the event to help furnish 4,000 homes in 2013.
In 2012, A Wider Circle furnished 3,650 area homes. The organization provides beds, dressers, kitchen tables and other furniture to low-income households and counseling programs for recently-homeless parents and others in need of tips for job interviews.
The 4K race allows participants to enter as an individual or team and pledge money for different programs:
$33.00 ensures that one person can receive all of his or her basic need items, from beds and dressers to dishes, pots, and pans.
$80.00 fuels the change for an entire day. We spend $30,000 a year on fueling our trucks; a gift of $80 takes care of an entire day.
$250.00 provides a series of educational workshops at our new Center for Professional Development.
$500.00 funds a beautification project at a low-income school or neighborhood.
For more information and to register, visit the race site.
Photo by Joe Foley
On Saturday, April 6 from 9 a.m. to noon, the Rock Creek Conservancy’s Extreme Cleanup will task volunteers with cleaning the streams, tributaries and parks connected to Rock Creek and the neighborhoods near Rock Creek where trash originates. More than 50 locations, included a few in Chevy Chase, Kensington and Garrett Park, are available.
The fifth annual cleanup effort will happen along the entire length of the 33-mile stream, which stretches from Laytonsville all the way down to the Potomac near Georgetown.
On Saturday, April 13 from 9 a.m. to noon, the Montgomery County Road Runners Club will do a Rock Creek Trail Cleanup that includes the Matthew Henson Trail and feeder paths as well as dry feeder streams, roadways and playgrounds.
On Saturday, April 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Montgomery Parks wants volunteers for its Cabin John Trail Workday. Work typically includes repairing eroded tread surfaces, fixing drainage issues and building new trails and bridges. For more information, call 301-495-2504.
For more Earth Day events, visit Montgomery County’s Earth Day 2013 page.
Photo via Montgomery Parks
UPDATE 3:30 WSSC crews have found a leak in a water main that may be contributing to standing water in a wooded area off Jones Mill Road in Chevy Chase.
It’s unclear how much of the water is from the leak or from melting snow, but this afternoon WSSC said there appears to be a leak in the 54-inch water main near 3217 Coquelin Terrace.
A press release this afternoon said the leak was at first thought to be in a relief valve, but WSSC crews have confirmed the leak was in the transmission main itself. There is no need for mandatory water restrictions, according to the release.
The main is connected to the 60-inch line that broke last Monday at Chevy Chase Lake Drive and Connecticut Avenue, but WSSC spokesman I.J. Hudson said it’s too early to know if the leak is in any way connected to last week’s event. The leak occurred 1.2 miles east of the Connecticut Avenue break, Hudson said.
No customers are without water service and no roads or traffic patterns have been affected by the leak. WSSC crews are using Jones Mill Road Neighborhood Park as an access point to the woods.
WSSC says a resident reported seeing water on the ground in the wooded area near the 3200 block of Coquelin Terrace on Monday.
The press release this afternoon said the main does have the acoustic fiber optic monitoring system that did not warn the WSSC in time to prevent last Monday’s main break. But the monitoring system is designed to detect the snapping of steel wires embedded in the pipe and not leaks.
The announcement was made last week by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The state’s Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund awarded a $19.8 million grant to the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection for the construction of urban stormwater projects including stream restoration, rain gardens, revamped stormwater ponds and dry and wet grass channels.
The Rock Creek Watershed inside the Beltway includes highly developed areas of Bethesda and Chevy Chase, where much of that development occurred before the 1960s and before existing stormwater controls were in place.
According to the Montgomery County DEP, that has “led to unmitigated flows that have damaged Rock Creek and its tributaries.” In 2002, a toxic chemical released into the creek near East-West Highway killed thousands of fish and reached into D.C.
Construction of a stormwater pond at the south end of NIH’s campus is in its final stages. The pond, part of the Lower Rock Creek Watershed, is meant to capture and treat runoff from NIH and 200 acres of Bethesda’s dense Central Business District.
The projects supported by the grant, some of which are underway, will support the retention and creation of an estimated 140 jobs, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The 277-acre Rock Creek Stream Valley Park has seen damage to natural resources, deer-related car accidents and the increased potential of Lyme disease because of the increased amount of deer in the area, Montgomery Parks claimed in a press release on Monday.
Montgomery Parks says estimates indicate the deer population in the park, east of the Connecticut Avenue and East-West Highway intersection, is three times the recommended density.
The agency, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and planning Commission, went through a public commenting period last year, during which a vast majority of residents supported the deer hunting plan.
Park Police sharpshooters will kill deer in the park, “under very stringent guidelines and in the most humane way possible,” according to the press release.
The hunts will take place from Feb. 1 through March 1 from 5:30 p.m. until sunrise each day. They may happen annually from Jan. 1 to March 31 if necessary.
Information about the hunts will be posted on signs throughout the park and Montgomery Parks will donate deer meat for consumption at local soup kitchens.
Flickr photo by John Dylan O’Leary
Rock Creek Park Runners Report Owl Attacks — A number of runners in Rock Creek Park have recently reported owl “attacks” during their jogs. A Bethesda man said his running group was attacked along Glen Cove Parkway. [WTOP]
$499 Million Contract Awarded to Renovate National Intelligence University — A Baltimore company was awarded the contract to renovate Bethesda’s Intelligence Community Campus along Sangamore Road. The campus, which was vacated by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency as part of BRAC, will include the National Intelligence University and employees from a number of other agencies, totaling 3,000 employees by 2017. [The Gazette]
Flickr photo by gastwa