Glenelg High addition part of board deal

Agreement should pave way for 400 more school seats by 2004

`The end is in sight'

Two new septic systems on Musgrove parcel included in accord

April 30, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

After years of delay and more than six months of tangled negotiations, Howard County's school board has a deal that should pave the way for the August 2004 opening of a 400-seat addition at Glenelg High School in western Howard County.

"It means the end is in sight," said Glenelg PTA President Terry Chaconas, whose son Matt is graduating this spring. The addition was supposed to have opened for Matt's junior year.

The settlement will provide for two new septic systems on the 70-acre Musgrove family farm behind the school - one for Glenelg, and the other for developer J. Thomas Scrivener's planned 32-home community on the adjoining Musgrove farm.

Scrivener said his project must wait several years, under county development-control laws, until a new western county elementary school relieves crowding in the area.

Meanwhile, predictions of countywide crowding in high schools, along with Glenelg's status as the only western county high school has added a sense of urgency to the dispute that developed over the land and the future of the school.

"When you look at Glenwood and Clarksville middle schools, we desperately need the seats [at Glenelg]," said Jane B. Schuchardt, president of the school board.

"It's unfortunate that it's taken as long as it has," she said.

Glenelg is 15.4 percent over capacity this year with 1,074 students, and next year's enrollment is projected to be 25 percent over capacity, said Principal Linda T. Wise.

Meanwhile, the school is in turmoil, with renovations under way inside and septic system repairs outside.

Construction is under way all over the building, Wise said.

Repairs to the septic field have put the athletic fields off limits. Inside, the auditorium is closed.

Work is progressing on the lobby and administrative offices, the media center, a new music room addition and the cafeteria, Wise said.

"We're all scrambling as far as senior activities go," she said.

Sydney L. Cousin, deputy school superintendent, said the county will buy 25 acres of the Musgrove land, and design and build the two septic systems.

The full cost of the project will have to be recalculated, he said, because the original $8.5 million set aside four years ago for the Glenelg project is no longer enough.

One key condition for progress, however, is county Health Department testing to clear the land for use as a septic field - something that could be complicated by the drought.

Cousin said the county has built 25 schools and countless additions during his career, "but this has been the most problematic. I'm not going to leave until this project is finished," he said.

The agreement, approved by the county school board last week, appears to solve a difficult, complex set of problems that, at different times over the past several years, have upset the land's owners, the community around Glenelg and county officials.

"I'm a dreamer and a conservationist and an idealist, and in my little idea of heaven on earth that land would continue producing food as long as possible," said Ellen Durigg, whose 91-year old mother, Mae Brann Musgrove, lived on the land until she died in January.

The school board's first plan - to build a small wastewater treatment plant in the area - created strong opposition from residents who feared smells, spills and development pressure, and from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which feared contamination in its reservoirs.

That debate began in late summer of 1999, and no agreement could be reached until now.

"I think it's great," said County Councilman Allan H. Kittleman, a western county Republican. "I'm glad they've worked something out."

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