Displace Silver Spring Neighborhood Park
Park is Small Oasis for Historic Minority and Low Income Community
Silver Spring, Md. – On April 28, the Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) will vote whether to approve Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville Park in Silver Spring, Md., as the site of a new middle school for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster. Currently, students who matriculate into Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School attend Westland Middle School in Bethesda, Md.
At the request of Superintendent Jerry Weast, a Site Selection Advisory Committee, exclusive of representation from the Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville community, worked in secrecy to evaluate 10 potential sites for the new school. Without consideration of impacts to the local community and with little analysis, the committee selected Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville Park and forwarded its recommendation to the BOE for consideration. Montgomery County Public Schools released the committee's report last week, only after pressure from the community.The park is an integrated part of long-term planning for this historic minority and working-class neighborhood, once owned by Samuel Lytton, a freed slave and having been part of the Underground Railroad. Montgomery County received State funding under the Maryland Open Spaces Program in 2000 to acquire land for the park. It provides a much-needed environmental offset for the area, which is bordered by traffic congestion on East-West Highway, a large industrial park, the county bus depot and the Walter Reed Annex. The planned purple line will bring yet more development, with a maintenance depot and station directly across from the park. Amid all this development, it will be devastating to the community to lose its only green space to a middle school.
The site selection process was deeply flawed, and the final report omits key data the Board of Education would need to make an educated decision on the 28th. More thoughtful analysis shows that this site in fact meets few if any of the required criteria for a suitable school location (fact sheet shown below). The advisory committee inconsistently applied site selection criteria to produce the selection of Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville Park as the recommended site. Also, the communities bordering the park were left out of the site selection process. Representatives of several towns and municipalities in Bethesda and Chevy Chase were invited to participate in the process, but no one from the town of Silver Spring was invited.
A coalition of concerned residents in the Silver Spring neighborhoods surrounding the park are calling on the BOE to reject the recommendation of the Site Selection Advisory Committee, to re-evaluate candidate sites fairly with consistent application of the stated selection criteria, to include community impact as an important criterion for site selection, and to move forward with transparency and community engagement.
Note: Because the community is divided on the issue of the middle school, with most residents on the fence pending further details from Montgomery County Public Schools, the neighborhood associations are not taking a position. The "Save Our Park, Preserve Our Community" coalition is a large and growing group of community residents advocating to build the new middle school in a more suitable location after more thorough and thoughtful analysis and discussion.
Site Selection Report: http://www.
montgomeryschoolsmd.org/ departments/planning/pdf/BCC_ MS2_SiteSelectionFinalReport.
History of Lyttonsville as Historically Black Community (click through the links): http://silverspringspeaks.
blogspot.com/2011/03/ lyttonsville-living-history- hidden-in.html
Save Our Park, Preserve Our Community Coalition