Monday, February 14, 2011

Weast's Cell Tower Elementary School

The actual name of this future school site is Woodwards Road Elementary School. It is located on Emory Grove Road next to Mid-County Highway in Gaithersburg. This unused school site is 11 acres of land owned by the Board of Education and ready for use as an elementary school. 

When the Board of Education voted on February 8, 2011, to build a brand new 740 student elementary school* on the Waring Station elementary school site, the Woodwards Road site wasn't even discussed. Yet, it isn't that far away. 

Take a close look at the picture above. See the road? The road was built on the property to allow cars and trucks to access the extensive cell phone tower compound that Superintendent Weast has allowed on the property (left side of image at end of road is the cell tower compound).  

Trees were planted to hide the cell tower compound from view from Emory Grove Road. 

Now you can see why the Board of Education didn't want to discuss this site when picking a new location for an up-county elementary holding school. This school site is already in use, just not by school children. 

Thanks to Google Earth for letting us see what the Board of Education won't discuss! 

* The "official" vote of the Board of Education was to hire an architect to do a "Feasibility Study". But there were already workers ON the site prior to the Board vote and trees have already been marked. A Feasibility Study is just a very informal review of the property, clearly more is going on at this site than MCPS is revealing to the public.  And that work started before the Board vote. 


  1. Maria Fernanda McClureFebruary 14, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    Thanks for the work you do to bring potentially troublesome matters to light.

    Your efforts might go farther, however, if you took the time to verify some things before posting them. You might get attention by being inflammatory, but in the long run, you hurt your cause.

    The School Board did NOT vote to build a brand new school on the Waring Station Site. They DID approve an 8 month feasibility study to examine that possibility. A nuance, perhaps, but your information is not precise. All those opposed to the proposed Holding Facility should stay informed and raise their concerns.

    The Woodwards Road site may or may not be appropriate for the Upcounty Holding Facility, but the cell tower that is currently on it has no bearing on its availability for that purpose.
    You can obtain more information on this matter by contacting Bruce Crispell at 240-314-4702.

    Mr. Lavorgna is not, as you suggest below, some imaginary figure. He did retire in 2005, but has since been working as a contractor for Montgomery County. Say what you will about this policy of having employees taking early retirement and then being rehired as contractors, but the fact that his signature is on a 2010 application is far from a scandal. You could have obtained this information, as I did, through a 20 second phone call to 240-314-1060.

    You can also reach the MCPS office of Long Range Planning at 240-314-4700.

    Best to you in your research and endeavors.

  2. Obviously you were not at the Friday Hearing on the Sligo Middle School cell tower.

    Mr. Lavorgna was not authorized to sign a Petition for a Special Exception for Sligo Middle School in November of 2010. At that time he was no longer in charge of MCPS Facilities decisions.

  3. Ms. McClure,

    Have you driven past the Waring Station school site to see the work that has already commenced at that location?

  4. Ms. McClure, An * has been added to the blog post to address your concerns.

  5. Maria Fernanda McClureFebruary 14, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    I was there last week. They are doing surveys.

    I was not at the meeting. Per MCPS one hour ago, Mr. Lavorgna does have that authority.

    As I stated... I value your efforts to keep things above board, but the information available here contradicts some of your postings.

  6. Ms. McClure,

    Please call the Board of Education - they own the Sligo Middle School property, not MCPS, and ask them if in November of 2010, Mr. Lavorgna was their agent as Director of Facilities.

    As to Waring Station, the actions of MCPS contradict their public information.

  7. Ms. McClure,

    If the Board of Education says that Mr. Lavorgna was authorized to sign a Petition for a Special Exception for them in November 2010, please get a copy of that Board action in writing.

    Thanks so much. That information would be extremely helpful.

  8. Maria Fernanda McClureFebruary 14, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    A close look at the application you posted reveals that the owner is listed alternately as the MCPS and the Board of Education.

    I am not inclined to pursue my investigation into this any further. You appear to have a personal issue with the way these things are handled. Best of luck to you.

  9. There is no question on public school land in Montgomery County. It is owned by the Board of Education. The property records are clear.

    This matter is now before the Board of Appeals and we will post their Opinion when it is made public.

  10. Maria said:
    "The Woodwards Road site may or may not be appropriate for the Upcounty Holding Facility, but the cell tower that is currently on it has no bearing on its availability for that purpose."

    Better to ask the cell tower companies that lease this space that question. Here are some of their leases.

    Are they ready to pack up and move this extensive cell tower compound some place else?

  11. For goodness' sake... the leased premises amount to 300 sq ft out of 11 acres. and the landlord retains the right to add improvements to the property at their discretion - including removal of the cell tower.

  12. @1:30 Yes, this site should have been included in the list of sites considered for an up-county holding school. You make a good case for a site selection committee to have been used as per Board of Education Policy FAA.

    But the Board of Education didn't bother to follow their own policy and skipped any community involvement in the site selection.


If your comment does not appear in 24 hours, please send your comment directly to our e-mail address:
parentscoalitionmc AT