School officials tracking 2 projects

Glenelg High addition, new elementary in focus

Groundwater permits at issue

Western Howard

February 03, 2005|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

Howard County school officials and the Maryland Department of the Environment are working to make sure two construction projects - an addition at Glenelg High School and a new western elementary school - are completed by August 2006.

For months, school officials had expressed concerns that the two projects could be delayed because of difficulties in obtaining permits for septic systems.

The school system needs MDE's approval for groundwater discharge permits by next month to meet the August 2006 deadline on both projects. The discharge permits - which regulate disposal of treated wastewater into the state's groundwater - must be issued before the school system can obtain construction permits.

"Any longer than this spring, we're at risk," Raymond Brown, the school system's chief operating officer, told County Council members at a meeting with the school board yesterday.

The septic system at Glenelg High School has long been an obstacle to building a 400-seat addition. The project is meant to provide much-needed relief for the crowded school, which is 27 percent over capacity this year with 1,273 students.

The new western elementary school in Dayton would also provide relief for surrounding schools, particularly Bushy Park Elementary in Glenwood, which is at more than 150 percent of capacity.

In a Jan. 11 letter to Secretary of the Environment Kendl P. Philbrick, Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin had outlined issues that he believed were holding up the permit review process for the two projects.

Cousin also requested a more timely review of the school system's permit applications and inquired about a point person for the school system.

"They are doing everything they can to solve these issues," Cousin said yesterday.

In response, the director of the MDE's water management administration updated the school system on the status of the permit applications.

A permit for Glenelg High School's addition could be issued as early as March 1 if no public comments are received, according to Robert M. Summers, who responded to Cousin in a Jan. 27 letter.

As for the new western elementary school, Summers said MDE is waiting for the Howard County Department of Public Works to include the project in the county's water and sewer plan. As soon as the project is incorporated into the county's plan, a permit can be issued, Summers said.

"You have taken your valuable time to express in detail problems as you see them, and I want to assure you that in response my staff is working to ensure that these projects will not be delayed once the requirements of the law and the applicable regulations have been fulfilled," Summers wrote.

The school system is working with MDE on a third project, to replace Bushy Park Elementary. School officials are seeking to obtain permits to expand the septic system as quickly as possible. A new school would be built adjacent to the old one and open in August 2007.

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