Category

B-CC Middle School / RCH Park

Middle School Construction Updates

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers | No Comments

Dear neighbors,

As you may know, the new middle school is on track to open this August. Here are some updates from today’s onsite construction meeting (with thanks to Rick Bond & Hill Carter for their attendance):

1. Google maps has aerial imagery of the site from last July that can be viewed in 3D (however the 3D view does not work on the Safari browser); see <https://goo.gl/EdA67E> (Or search on 3701 Saul Road, Kensington, then choose satellite view, then – if you’re not running Safari – choose 3D.)

2. The gas line hookup, which will impede Saul Road traffic near the lower entrance for most likely one day, has been postponed until next week.

3. A big “sand filter” delivery (this item will be part of the school’s storm water management system), which will impede impede Saul Road traffic near the lower entrance for two or three days, will take place later this month.

4. The “green roof” delivery, which will require delivery of an estimated two dozen big truckloads of plant material, will take place in April.

With best regards,
Jim P.

Take this Survey by morning 2/23/17 – Middle School Name

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park | No Comments

Dear Neighbors,

The committee ​that has gathered ​to recommend a name for the new middle school in our neighborhood has prepared a​ survey to ​collect​ your view on the proposed names:

https://goo.gl/forms/6c06KKX8Ob3F0HUp1

Please take a few minutes to read the survey and vote on your first choice for the school’s name, or submit a name that you’d like us to consider. This same survey will be distributed at all of the elementary schools that will feed into the new middle school, in addition to our neighborhood.

Please vote by Thursday morning (3/23).
If you have any difficulties accessing the survey, please contact fern.shepard@gmail.com

fyi: a letter from MCPS, addressing stormwater concerns

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, Board Correspondence, From the RCHCA Officers | No Comments

Dear neighbors,

Monthly onsite meetings continue between representatives of your RCHCA Board, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), & Dustin Construction, to provide a forum for communication during construction of the new middle school.

At this month’s meeting, we received a letter from MCPS regarding last month’s stormwater concerns. You can see the letter (as the 3rd & 4th pages of the document) posted at dropbox at <goo.gl/mCPM7j>.

With best regards,
Jim Pekar
President, RCHCA

Notes from B-CC Middle School # 2 – First Construction Meeting – 02/03/2016

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers | No Comments

Hello Rock Creek Hills Neighbors,

Last Wednesday, February 3’rd, 2016 at 7:30 AM:

· Jim Pekar, President Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association

· Rick Bond, A.I.A., a Rock Creek Hills Resident Architect with experience in large facilities construction

· Hill Carter, Vice-President Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association

Met with Seth Adams, Director, Division of Construction of Montgomery County Public Schools, Ray Marhamati MCPS Project Manager for B-CC Middle School #2, and the leads from Dustin Construction for B-CC Middle School #2 at the construction site in Rock Creek Hills. This is the first of what is expected to be monthly meetings to help foster bi-directional communication between the residents of Rock Creek Hills and the firms constructing the new school. The meeting was both productive and informative.

Attached please find our combined notes in bullet-ized form:

· Dustin Construction is aiming for a 1 July 2017 major construction completion date.

· Some remaining work will be conducted while MCPS prepares for the school year.

· MCPS recognizes that, as a new school, this is a unique situation. The project originally had a 24 month duration, which has been subsequently reduced to 18 months.

· Meeting construction completion date is critical, and a 6 day work week has been included for the duration of the project (included in budget).

· Most of the excavation is complete, and truck hauling of dirt will be minimal in the future.

· Funding for the asbestos removal and disposal will come from project contingencies, and will not increase total cost. They acknowledged that communication regarding this issue could have been better, and believe that these meetings will help.

· Dustin Construction is aware of the issue of the overly early start time on the Martin Luther King holiday and stated this should not happen again.

· The designated construction route for construction vehicles is from Connecticut Avenue down Saul Road

o No school construction trucks should be driving through RCH neighborhood streets

· All early morning truck deliveries are supposed to be queued up in a shopping center parking lot, in anticipation of the approved opening times. No trucks are allowed on Saul Road prior to 7:00.

· The last budget approval provided funding for the 12 classroom shell, the decorative finishes and metal railings on the retaining walls.

· There will be “hundreds” of vendors who will work on this project so some vendors may not be aware of the construction start time or designated construction route.

· Dustin started pouring cement last Tuesday and will be pouring cement daily until spring when the steel construction will start.

o Dustin stated they poured 1000 feet of cement last Tuesday alone

· In the spring Dustin will start drilling wells near the retirement home for the geo-exchange system (for the school HVAC System).

o This work will be noisy and Dustin is working on a noise abatement plans.

· The large piles of dirt on the field next to the Retirement Home are there intentionally as a sound barrier.

· MCPS stated they would post new renderings and other documents of the expanded school (with the add-on shell) on the MCPS web site within two weeks

o These documents may be posted under Division of Construction

o http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/facilities/construction/project/bethesdams.aspx

· MCPS has no authority for sidewalks beyond the school site – this is a neighborhood issue that needs to be taken up with Montgomery County Department of Transportation (STEP Committee?)

· The Middle School #2 Boundary recommendation will be made by new Superintendent next fall. Focus will be on balancing “walking” access and diversity. Another issue is the fact that this school is not programmed to have a Spanish immersion program.

· The MCPS Board Of Education will make the final decision on boundaries for the new school by next fall and expects to have the new Superintendent in place by that time

· The first year of operation of the new school will be “unique” as they likely will not pull students out of Westland if they are already attending Westland.

· Construction Gate 1 is at the bottom of the hill; Construction Gate #2 is at the top of the hill.

We hope you find these notes helpful. Please let us know if you have any questions on the first construction meeting or any questions for the future monthly construction meetings.

Regards,

Hill Carter

County Council Hearing Update 10-6-15

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers | No Comments

Dear neighbors,

This afternoon the Montgomery County Council held a hearing on the Board of Education’s proposal to transfer 1.8 million dollars within the CIP budget, in order to add to the new B-CC middle school construction what MCPS calls the “cold dark shell” of a future addition, which would increase the capacity of the school to 1,200 students.

The entire Council was present for the hearing. Four witnesses, including me, testified against the proposal; no one testified in favor. The Council’s Education Committee will take up this matter at 11:30 AM on Tuesday, October 12th.

Please find below the text of the testimony (as prepared) I gave at the hearing.

With best regards,
Jim Pekar
President, RCHCA

***

My name is Dr. James Pekar. I am here as President of the Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association to ask you to vote against funding the addition – what MCPS calls a “cold dark shell” – because supersizing the new middle school to 1200 students is unneeded, unwise, and unsafe.

It is unneeded, according to MCPS’s 2015 forecasts, which state that the new school would hold no more than 803 students through 2024.

It is unwise, because the opening capacity of 949 students already exceeds recent guidance from the State of Maryland, calling for middle schools to be no larger than 900 students. The addition would push the total to 1200, far above the state recommendation.

It is unsafe, because hazards identified by our County’s Planning Board remain unaddressed, as was recently noted in the letter to Mrs. O’Neill from County Planning Board Chair Mr. Anderson and Councilmember Rice. Over a one-hour period every school morning, over 800 vehicle trips (on top of high levels of commuter traffic) will access this school via narrow, hilly, curving, neighborhood streets. Restricted visibility for pedestrians and cars will increase accident risk for children accessing the site. A single steep driveway, plagued with blind spots and low visibility, must be shared by all student drop-offs, crosswalks, deliveries, parking, and emergency vehicles. Interactions between walkers and vehicles would inevitably create hazards. While many MCPS schools are embedded in neighborhoods, few, if any, have such a combination of traffic and site challenges, which would be exacerbated by expansion to 1200.

For context, Rock Creek Hills Park is significantly reduced from the former site of Kensington Junior High School. After the old school was torn down, an elder-care facility was built on much of its footprint, taking a third of the land and a vehicle entrance. The remainder fails to meet almost all official County site standards, including size, topography, and access. Once built, this will be the only middle school with less than the new 15-acre requirement without an adjacent park to provide additional space. Due to this critical lack of space, this school will have no regulation soccer field, no large playing field, and just 2 of the 4 softball fields, 4 of the 6 tennis courts and 2 of the 3 basketball courts required by standards approved by the Board of Education. The soccer and softball fields are “overlaid” meaning just one athletic activity at a time. Classrooms are below standard size. If expanded to 1200 students, cafeteria and auditorium seating will be 25% undersized, necessitating “operational” solutions, such as staggering lunch throughout the day. Despite additional costs for retaining walls up to 22 feet high to maximize useable space, the site will not have a separated student drop off, and, if expanded to 1200 students, would be short almost 25% of car and bus parking required by MCPS.

So please, say no to this CIP amendment. Supersizing the school is unneeded, unwise, and unsafe. Instead, limit the size to 949 students, to improve outcomes, minimize harm, and, most importantly, protect children.

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A letter from Councilmember Rice & Planning Board Chair Anderson

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers | No Comments

Dear neighbors,

We received today a copy of a letter recently sent by Craig Rice, Chair, Education Committee, Montgomery County Council, and Casey Anderson, Chair, Montgomery County Planning Board, to Patricia O’Neil, President, Montgomery County Board of Education, expressing concerns about the recent review of the new BCC Middle School.

A brief excerpt: “…the process for the BCC Middle School didn’t serve the public or our respective agencies very well and the final design is disappointing.”

You can find the letter at <https://goo.gl/szjl0E>.

With best regards,
Jim Pekar
President, Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association

Update on new B-CC middle school planned for the site of Rock Creek Hills Park

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers, RCHCA Biz | No Comments

Dear neighbors,

Today a crew from the Parks Department removed some swings from the playground in Rock Creek Hills Park, so that they can be re-used elsewhere. The park is slated to close permanently; groundbreaking for the new school is now scheduled for August 20th.

As you may know, county Planning Board staff expressed concern about safety hazards in the site plan, and proposed a solution; we testified in support of their recommendation at the Mandatory Referral hearing in March (see postscript). Unfortunately, these efforts to improve safety have so far not resulted in substantive changes. However, since the conclusion of litigation, in response to Dr. Zuckerman’s letter to the community, a group of RCH parents has met with MCPS officials to address issues of pedestrian safety and traffic planning/circulation; they are working with MCPS to explore options that would improve site and building functionality.

With best regards,
Jim Pekar
President, Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association

P.S. http://rchca.org/2015/04/02/march-26-planning-board-meeting-update/

March 26 Planning Board Meeting Update

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers | No Comments

Dear neighbors,

[March 26] the Montgomery County Planning Board held a hearing to conduct their “Mandatory Referral” (and Forest Conservation Plan) review of plans submitted by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) for construction of a new middle school on the site of Rock Creek Hills Park. As you may know, those plans include retaining walls 21 feet high (constructed as a pair of 10.5′ walls) topped with safety fencing, as well as the loss of most of the trees on the site.

More than two dozen Rock Creek Hills neighbors attended, about half of whom testified. I testified in support of the Planning Board staff recommendation (of approval with conditions), which you can find at <http://goo.gl/po048P> (Forest Conservation Plan) and <http://goo.gl/ZTzQ8R> (Mandatory Referral).

The key “condition” in the staff recommendation is: “Revise the Preliminary Forest Conservation Plan and variance request to show a realigned parent drop-off loop, pedestrian entrance, and associated site engineering… The realigned parent drop-off loop must minimize grading and retaining walls to maximize forest and tree retention…”

Following Planning Board staff presentations, MCPS staff presentations, citizen testimony, and some discussion, the Planning Board commissioners voted unanimously for conditional approval of the Forest Conservation Plan, consistent with their staff recommendation.

Please find below the text of my testimony (as prepared).

With best regards,
Jim Pekar
RCHCA President

***

[Testimony before the Montgomery County Planning Board, 26 March 2015 (as prepared).]

My name is Dr. James Pekar. I reside at 9723 Kingston Road, Kensington, directly across Saul Road from Rock Creek Hills Park. I serve as President of the Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association. I won’t need more than five minutes of your time, to testify in support of your staff recommendation.

As you may know, we’ve worked to preserve Rock Creek Hills Park, because it is our neighborhood’s central green space, and because the site is obviously inappropriate and inadequate to the proposed school, and will yield a middle school that does not provide parity with others in the County.

In 1986, a memo from your staff assessed the Park, stating: “Development outside the flat portions of the site should be restricted… The site slopes steeply on three sides, and drains into a tributary of Rock Creek…” And that year, our County Council resolved that: “Primary consideration [shall be given] to the conservation of the trees and other unique natural features for the continuing enjoyment of the … community.”

The park fails to meet the Board of Education’s official middle school site criteria for location, size, topography, and access. Indeed, the site fails to meet each element of the “access” criterion: Frontage on a primary (70’ right-of-way) road; three access points (for safety, to separate cars, buses, and trucks); community sidewalks.

In light of the foregoing, I wish I could ask you tonight to recognize that, “If it does not fit, you must not permit!” – not because we disagree with your staff’s recommendation, but because the decision to build is wrong. We understand, however, that this hearing assumes that the school will be built on the site of the park, and seeks the best possible outcome. With that understanding, I am compelled to testify in support of your staff recommendation to uphold Maryland’s Forest Conservation Law by moving the car entrance up the hill, preserving a riparian forest stand. This doesn’t just save trees and protect the creek – it reduces retaining walls, reduces stormwater runoff, and improves pedestrian safety. It represents the safest, most balanced approach to the site.

There are many reasons to support the recommendation of your staff (which is consistent with your staff memo from almost three decades ago). Let me mention just one. As noted in your staff’s transportation memorandum of February 27th (of this year), “…the relocated access point would have more than the minimum 200-foot sight distance required on secondary residential streets…” In contrast, the car access point proposed in the submission has intersections just 100 feet and 150 feet away (on either side), well within the 200 foot sight distance requirement, raising serious concerns about safety.

So please, uphold the law, adopt your staff recommendation. Save some trees, protect a creek, and most importantly, protect children. Thank you.

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