Thursday, January 29, 2015

Twinbrook Citizens Association: Stop Fast-Tracking the Bus Depot

Hello Councilmembers Rice, Elrich, and Navarro,

I am writing on behalf of the Twinbrook Citizens Association to express our concerns with the plan to put a 400 bus depot at the Mark Twain Elementary School / Blair Ewing site on Avery Road.  We have only recently learned about this plan and we are very concerned that 1) a site that Rockville taxpayers and Project Open Space has funded will be destroyed, that 2) an entire functional school building will be destroyed even as Rockville is being pushed to add thousands of residents on Rockville Pike in the name of Smart Growth,that 3) a road that is already at a crawl in rush hour, Norbeck aka First Street, will be impacted by 400 school buses going in and out of the site several times a day in rush hour, that 4) business at Rockville's Redgate Golf Course, also funded with Open Space money as well as supported by Rockville taxpayer dollars, will be affected,and that 5) the site abuts Rock Creek Park, more importantly, that the site SLOPES into Rock Creek park, so that oil and waste runoff from the 400 bus parking lot may funnel into the creek.

This seems be another poorly planned MCPS boondoggle.  Even as the County cries poor in Annapolis, millions of dollars are being wasted and a school building that will be needed in the future is bulldozed.  The fact that nearby communities were not informed (including the Aspen Hill community which will receive the programs being transferred out of the Blair Ewing center) is problematic.  The Mayor and Council of Rockville so far have said that they were NOT notified that the Mark Twain site was to be "repossessed" by the County.  Questions have been raised as to WHY they were not notified and WHY Program Open Space regulations are being ignored.

Here in Rockville, we were told during our own Redgate go-round, by our then-State Senator Jennie Forehand, that decommissioning a park funded with Program Open Space funds would cause Annapolis to look with caution at "wasting" any future Open Space funds in Rockville. 

I think you should take that to heart, as well as consider the implications of putting what is essentially an industrial facility next to a nationally significant piece of parkland and a waterway that traverses historic areas of the District of Columbia.  I would hope that you are as interested in preserving parkland DOWNCOUNTY as you are in preserving parkland upcounty, as with Ten Mile Creek.

Today, as the Board of Education considers terminating Dr. Starr's contract, the question you should be asking yourself is - why is the school system so dysfunctional, that literally millions of dollars of taxpayer money is being squandered on projects of this type?  When we, the taxpayers, see this kind of hidden and backdoor deal being pushed through, and we are told, yet again, at the 11th hour, that it is a "done deal", we know there is something badly wrong.

Please, in your considerations, stop fast-tracking the bus depot.  The whole project needs to be reconsidered before it becomes an embarrassment to Montgomery County.


Christina Y. Ginsberg
Treasurer, Twinbrook Citizens Association
Richard A. Gottfried
President, Twinbrook Citizens Association

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