Education Board Yields School Site To Library Branch

Path Clear To Build On Cradlerock Way

April 03, 1991|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff writer

The school board relinquished its claims last week to the site proposed for the East Columbia library branch, spiking rumors that the board was reluctant to give up the 26-acre tract on Cradlerock Way.

The library branch, planned on property originally identified as a potential high school site, is to open in the summer of 1992.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker earmarked $500,000 for the library's construction -- in addition to the $6.9 million appropriated inprevious years -- in the 1991-1992 capital budget he sent to the County Council Monday.

Rumors that the school board wanted to retain its claim to the site apparently stemmed from a letter that Sydney L.Cousin, associate superintendent for finance and operations, sent tocounty planning officials last year.

Cousin said the letter indicated that the board would erase the school site designation from the property, but would like county officials' help in acquiring other sites. He said Tuesday that help has now been promised, and he has met with Ecker, Planning Di

rector Joseph W. Rutter and Public Works Director James M. Irvin to discuss possible sites.

The board now has architects working on two schools -- Western Middle and Northeastern Elementary -- that lack sites.

"That scares me," admitted Board Chairwoman Deborah D. Kendig. "That's not the way we like to do things."

School officials are also eager to acquire land west of Route 29 for the ninth county high school, to open in September 1994.

Kendig said the rumors were "just gossip." The board didn't relinquish its claim to the Cradlerock Way site earlier because the action "justdisappeared into the change of government," she said. The claim was then forgotten until a recent letter from the county executive prompted the formal action.

School officials didn't want the Cradlerock Way site because it is too small under county school system guidelines, which call for 50 acres for a high school site, and because of itsproximity to Hammond, Oakland Mills and Howard High Schools.

The property is owned by Howard Research and Development, the developmentarm of The Rouse Co. It was identified as a potential school site, but no final development plan was recorded for the area, reported Ronald G. Lepson,

assistant to the director of the county Public WorksEngineering Bureau.

Lepson said that despite the lack of formal designation as a school site, HRD officials still wanted the change from school to library site in the county records.

Part of the tracthousing the library branch will be deeded to the county, probably for $1, Lepson said. The rear of the site, planned for athletic fields,will remain under HRD's ownership and will beleased to the county, probably for $1 a year, he said.

A citizens committee, appointed bythe library board and Owen Brown Village Board, began looking for a site in 1987, armed with a list of five potential sites supplied by the county Planning and Zoning Office. The committee narrowed the selection to two properties: the Cradlerock Way site and another in Long Reach Village off Old Montgomery and Dobbin roads.

Former county executive M. Elizabeth Bobo accepted the committee's recommendation for the Cradlerock Way site and placed it in the 1988-1989 capital budget.

The coming year's allocation would have finished out the project, but Ecker, facing tough financial constraints, deferred $790,000 for equipment to the 1992-1993 capital budget. He also cut $50,000 from the $550,000 construction financing request for 1991-1992.

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