Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Cavalier manner" of cancellation of lease

Let's just start calling the lease of the 20 acre Brickyard Middle School site to Montgomery County what it really is:

Peary II: The Sequel

It was just a few short months ago that County Executive Ike Leggett rammed through the sale of the almost 20 acre Peary High School site for a bargain basement price to a private entity. If you watched the public hearing before the County Council or before the Board of Public Works (Governor, Comptroller and Treasurer) you would have thought there was almost no opposition to the sale of that public school land to a private entity.  (The Board of Education didn't show up at either hearing to express their opposition even though they had voted to oppose the sale.)

But a peek into the files in County Executive Ike Leggett's office revealed otherwise. So in the interest of allowing the public to hear both sides of the story this time, the Parents' Coalition will be posting letters from citizens who wish to be heard on this sudden school land deal.  

Date: March 5, 2011 11:32:30 AM EST
To: boe@mcpsmd.orgSubject: Potomac Organic Farm Lease Cancellation

Dear Board of Education Members:

We just became aware of your sudden proposal to turn Nick Maravell's organic farm into ball fields, and we are strongly opposed to this action.

As a boys' youth soccer coach for nine years in the Potomac area, I am well aware of the need for athletic fields, however, we believe that discplacing Nick's organic farm will be counterproductive for the community.

First of all, the need for additional ball fields in the Potomac area is not clear to us. In fact, two large ball fields, configured for either baseball or football, have been virtually unused in Glen Hill Park for the past several years, though they have been mowed and maintained for forty years on this site.

Secondly, we believe that it is very much in keeping with the planning objectives of Montgomery County to encourage farming and agriculture, and the Agricultural Reserve has contributed to making Montgomery County an example of effective planning. We have personally been using Nick's organic, locally grown, chicken feed and other farm products for many years. He is the only supplier of such organic products in the community. At the very time we are trying to encourage healthy eating with locally grown crops, tearing up a field that has been carefully cultivated for over 30 years would be an irreplacable loss.

Thirdly, though we do not live in the part of Potomac that is adjacent to Nick's farm, we believe that it is the right and duty of those local neighbors to be consulted and thier views seriously considered before a step leasing land in the middle of their established community to a new public-private development of any kind is understaken. The cavalier manner in which this cancellation of Nick's lease has been handled is itself cause for concern. Montgomery County has invested in the sort of planning and stewardship that is supposed to protect our environment and support long-term objectives.

At a minimum, we believe that the Board of Education should 1) reconsider their proposed plan to lease this site to the County for ball fields; 2) determine actual need for such facilities, 3) balance the provision of ball fields against the bemefits of established, rich organic farmland, and 4) consult the community affected by the proposed changes.

Sincerely yours,
Harold F. Burnworth 
Essie Burnworth
Jonathan S. Burnworth

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