Approval to use park for school site slipped through without fanfare


September 02, 1992|By RUSS MULLALY

As many of you know, there has been some controversy over the selection of the site for the new northeastern elementary school, which is being built at Rockburn Branch Park in Elkridge. Usually open space areas are meant to stay that way for park use or recreation. The question posed by many is, how did this come about?

Jeff Bourne, the Director of Parks and Recreation, told me this was "an extremely unusual situation" that came about because a school was needed by 1993 in this area. He said "no other site could be found in this region. This is a one-time deal, and it is highly unlikely this will be done again on other parkland."

He explained about the use of the school as a community center, that athletic fields would be shared with the park, and a sediment pond would be developed into a water-quality pond to be used for nature study. When the school is no longer used as a school, it will revert to Parks and Rec to be used for community purposes.

I asked how the approval for this project was obtained, and was told that three state agencies approved it: the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning, and the Maryland Office of Planning. The County Council approved the agreement between the Department of Education and the Department of Parks and Recreation to transfer property last spring.

After some considerable digging through the public notices section in the back of the newspaper, I found this notice of a public hearing held on March 16:

"The following legislation has been introduced at the request of the County Executive:

"Resolution No. 40 ` Resolution declaring that real property owned by Howard County, Maryland and identified as a portion of Parcel No. 235, Tax Map 31, consisting of 8.7371 acres of land acquired by Deed from Charles Alfred Roswell and May Roswell, his wife, to Howard County, Maryland dated Sept. 8, 1975, and recorded among the Land Records of Howard County, Maryland in Liber 735, Folio 505, is no longer needed for public purposes as a park and recreational site, however, the site will be utilized for public purposes as a public school site as herein after defined; and authorizing the County Executive to dispose of the property to The Board of Education of Howard County; and requiring The Board of Education of Howard County to convey a parcel consisting of 22.7427 acres recorded among the Land Records of Howard County, Maryland as Plat No. 9040 on November 29, 1989 as replacement property in exchange for the conveyance."

The most interesting portion of the notice is the line that states, "is no longer needed for public purposes as a park and recreational site."

Says who? From the wording, I assume it means the county BTC executive, since he introduced the legislation, which was passed by our County Council.

So this is how an elementary school came to be built on open space parkland. Isn't it interesting how easily it went through, with very little fanfare? Perhaps the feeling is that nobody really reads that stuff in the back of the paper.

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