Charles Village group opposes hospital's school plans

March 26, 2001|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

A Charles Village community group is seeking City Council support for its opposition to Sheppard Pratt Health System's plan to move the Forbush School into the former Seton High School.

Charles Village Community Benefits District informed Council President Sheila Dixon in a letter this month that its board does not want the special education school for emotionally disturbed children to move from the hospital's campus in Towson.

The five-story building, acquired by Sheppard Pratt late last year, is at 2800 N. Charles St. The one-square-block property is about five miles south of the hospital. Activists object to a proposed three-story parking garage, possibly topped with an indoor gym and an outdoor recreational area facing Maryland Avenue.

"It's an extremely tight space, and we're not convinced it's the greatest optimum use of the site," said Frank Jannuzi, president of the community group.

Sheppard Pratt spokeswoman Bonnie B. Katz said last week that the school, which has 200 pupils in prekindergarten through eighth grade, is scheduled to move in the next five years. About half the pupils live in the city, she said.

Katz said Sheppard Pratt is "committed to working with the community" to reach a compromise.

John Spurrier, president of the Charles Village Civic Association, also opposes the school's move. "We're generally not opposed to the school. It's more the use of the site and what it would do to traffic and [rowhouse] property values on Maryland Avenue," he said.

To make planned additions to the school building, Sheppard Pratt would have to ask the City Council to pass a zoning bill.

Dixon said last week that the council would probably follow the lead of the 2nd District delegation, which represents Charles Village.

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