Proposal for new school opposed Councilman accused of bowing to developers

February 15, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A proposal by an Anne Arundel County councilman to build a new elementary school in Pasadena was met last night with opposition by parents and the community's school board member, who accused the councilman of doing the bidding of developers.

Councilman Thomas Redmond, a Pasadena Democrat, said he would like to see the school system spend about $10 million to build a new Fort Smallwood Elementary School soon instead of $7.4 million to renovate and expand the existing one.

The school system could remodel the old one at a later date as needed, he said.

"Eventually, we will need the capacity," Mr. Redmond said. "The growth isn't going to stop in my district."

School board member Thomas Twombly accused Mr. Redmond of being a shill for developers who are fast acquiring property for new houses in the northeastern part of the county.

"The developers are the puppet master," Mr. Twombly said at the school system's North County hearing on the proposed fiscal 1997 budget.

A public golf course and park are among amenities also being proposed for the Pasadena area.

Mr. Twombly said Mr. Redmond was making "sweetheart deals" for a new elementary school to complement new houses.

Mr. Redmond said he was trying to plan for growth and improve Fort Smallwood's small site.

He said the county could begin negotiations with Honolulu Ltd. Partnership, which owns 54 acres on Fort Smallwood Road at Fairview Beach Road.

Joel Winegarden, president of the partnership, said yesterday that the property is owned in part by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation of Baltimore. He said the partnership would be interested in talking to the county only if the property would be kept for public use and would remain mostly wooded.

But parents generally are not interested in a new school.

"The majority of parents do not want to see a new school," Carol Kemp, Fort Smallwood PTA president, told the board last night. "Many of the parents feel they are being held hostage" because they do not side with their councilman, who will vote on the school board budget in May.

"This will split the community," Ms. Kemp said. She said children from new homes would to a new school, while children from older and poorer neighborhoods would be "doomed" to the old school.

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