And Then There Were 3

School Board Oks Sites For New Schools

August 25, 1991|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff writer

Desperately needed sites for three new schools, one of them on part of a county councilman's farm, won preliminary approval from the school board Thursday.

Even if no snags develop in acquiring the sitesfor one elementary, one middle and one high school, "This is just a warning that it is a very tight schedule," said Associate Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin.

Cousin said earlier that school officials needed to find sites bylate this fall for the elementary and middle schools scheduled to open in 1993. The high school, originally set to open in 1995, now is planned to open a year earlier.

The board's action cleared the way for the school staff to start technical assessments and price negotiations for:

* Forty acres of a 187-acre tract at the corner of Folly Quarter Road and Route 144 owned by Fifth District Councilman Charles C. Feaga and his four brothers and sisters.

The price on this property will have to be negotiated with the owners. The land is for the western middle school to open in September 1993 and, depending on the results of feasibility studies, could also be used for a second new elementary school -- northern elementary -- to open in September 1994.

* Eight acres on the Montgomery Road side of the 387-acre Rockburn Branch Park owned by the county Department of Recreation and Parks, for the northeastern elementary school scheduled to open in September 1993. The county will donate the land and the school board willpay for replacement park land.

* Sixty-nine acres of a 270-acre tract between Route 108 and Trotter Road owned by Howard Research and Development Corp., the Columbia development arm of the Rouse Co., forthe western high school scheduled to open in September 1994. The developer is expected to donate 50 acres, and 19 acres are to revert to Howard Research after locations of the building and athletic fields have been determined.

Of the three sites, board members voiced mostmisgivings about the western high school land.

Chairwoman DeborahD. Kendig cited potential problems if the school driveway opens ontoRoute 108 and expressed reservations about having the school site surround the Columbia Memorial Park.

Board member Karen B. Campbell criticized the dogleg configuration of the property.

"There are a lot of downsides on this, but it's 50 acres and there isn't another developer in the county willing even to discuss it," Kendig said.

She and Campbell said they didn't want to appear ungrateful, since theRouse Co. has been the lone developer in the county will

ing to donate land for school sites.

The board, however, hoped to acquire a more desirable school site in the land between Clarksville and Columbia that is to be developed as the village of River Hill, Kendig said.

The stumbling block was access, since the board cannot afford to construct roads to a school site and HRD will not have roads in place before the school is needed.

Cousin said school officials will negotiate with the developer

on septic-system drain fields and possibly a joint storm-water management pond.

The site is scheduled for water and sewer service, but utilities are not expected to be available by 1994, so the school will be served initially by a well and septic tank.

Selection of the Feaga property for the western middleschool "is jumping from the frying pan into the fire," said ThompsonDrive resident Larry L. Yeager.

Yeager voiced many similar objections to the site that he had

expressed in April about the board's first choice, the 72-acre Andrew J. Harbin property across Route 144 from the Feaga land. Negotiations on the Harbin land broke down over price.

Yeager, who ran unsuccessfully in 1986 for the council seatFeaga now holds, pointed out that both properties are near a tavern.

He said that the Feaga ground is low at the intersection and the school may have to be located on the other side of a stream that bisects the property to place it on higher ground.

Feaga was attendingthe Maryland Association of Counties convention in Ocean City on Thursday and Friday. He could not be reached for comment on the asking price and whether he might be interested in developing the remainder of the property if water and sewer service is extended were unsuccessful.

Cousin said school officials will try to get water and sewer service extended to the site. The property is about one-quarter mile outside the metropolitan water and sewer district.

The northeasternelementary site is about half the size of the standard elementary school site. Cousin said playing fields for the school will be built onan adjacent seven acres. Students will use the athletic fields, but the county parks department will retain ownership.

The board is negotiating for property adjoining the park that will replace the eightacres used for the school "more than one for one," Cousin said.

Parks and recreation officials must get clearance from three state government agencies before deeding the park land over to the school board because state Program Open Space money was used in the purchase of the land.

The state requires that if land bought with program money is used for another purpose, it must be replaced by land of equal environmental and recreation value.

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