Category

From the RCHCA Officers

Spring Meeting: May 24, 2012 & Note from RCHCA President, John Robinson

By | Board Correspondence, From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings

May 11, 2012

Dear Members,

This is the May 24 meeting update that was promised you in my prior e-mail and on the post card I hope that most of you received. First, the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association spring meeting is confirmed for May 24 at 7:30 at Grace Episcopal Day School on Connecticut Avenue. The meeting is in the all-purpose room as follows.

Administrative Matters

First, we will discuss possibly raising the annual dues by $5 for calendar year 2013. The dues levels have been the same for almost seven years and $5 dollars would be significantly less than the rate of inflation. This increase is to be used for our ongoing regular activities such as the mailings, meetings, the Mother’s Day Picnic, Halloween Parade, landscaping maintenance, and the like.

Second, use of the post card plus electronic newsletter and the website saved some $700 for this one meeting. We will discuss using this format in the future except where the Board concludes that written notice of the issues is required, such as by-law changes. This meeting’s experience suggests that post card notice with supporting website and email notice is sufficient to establish the meeting date once this is a well-known practice.

Third, I will inquire at the meeting whether the winter and spring meeting should be combined to put us on a six month meeting schedule with special meetings as required. The most difficult events we have faced over the last 16 months have never coincided with our three meeting schedule. Given the realities of the electronic age I leave this for your consideration, but do not feel strongly about it. It is your time that is involved.

School Site and Litigation Update

As most know, on April 17 the Montgomery County School Board again selected our local park, Rock Creek Hills Local Park, as the site for the B-CC Middle School #2. The School Board did so despite the limitations of our park as a school site, including its size, projected enrollment growth, and probable construction cost. While we are of course concerned with the implications for our community, it is important to emphasize that there are educational, budget, and recreation issues that transcend our immediate concerns and would affect many outside our community. The School Board’s decision was particularly troublesome because the Planning Board Chair expressed a willingness to cooperate and work with them to select a site of mutual benefit that would best fit the needs of both the school and park systems.

Based on the instructions at our last meeting, RCHCA will file an administrative appeal shortly with the State Board of Education. We see no basis for the School Board’s decision that would destroy a valuable recreation resource. Because we will be handling this internally based on prior experience, we expect the cost to be minimal.

A second issue is more complicated and would require the use of outside counsel with expertise in land use issues. We have consulted two land use attorneys and have confidential memos from both that indicate a strong cause to challenge the relevant state agency, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). It is DNR’s practice that would make Rock Creek Hills Local Park available to the School Board when there is no statutory basis for DNR’s position.

It is the conclusion of the lawyer we would retain that there are meritorious grounds to bring an action. If RCHCA prevails, the School Board would have to replace the land and all the facilities with a 13 acre site elsewhere in the surrounding community before it could take action to reclaim Rock Creek Hills Local Park. This is what we believe Maryland law requires of the School Board and this would be difficult for it to do.

Any action would be in two phases. The first is an action in local court to challenge DNR’s practice as not supported by law. While our prospects are good, this action will require complete participation by the Kensington community. If our community comes together to save the integrity of our neighborhood and the heart of this community, Rock Creek Hills Local Park, and the valuable attributes that this green space brings to our neighborhood, then we will have a good chance of success. We are asking for contributions per household of $250 (and welcome higher or lesser amounts) to fund the first phase of the litigation against DNR. If a second phase is needed, an appeal, we will examine the basis for any appeal before moving forward with any additional litigation.

Remember that funding for the DNR litigation is a voluntary contribution. Any funds received will be placed in a separately designated account and will not be commingled with our normal operating funds. Nor will operating funds be used henceforth to support this DNR litigation. The amount of each contribution will be recorded on a spread sheet and if there are any surplus funds, they will be refunded pro rata to the households making the contributions. The check for funds should be made to the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association and be mailed to 9616 Old Spring Road, Kensington, MD, 20895.

We will discuss this matter at our May 24 meeting, but if you support the proposed action against DNR it would be helpful to know the extent of support and your contribution in advance. All contributions and commitments regarding the proposed DNR litigation are confidential and inquiries should be made to the undersigned at jmarkrobinson@verizon.net. You do not need to be a member to support the proposed litigation, but you do need to be a member to vote at the May 24 meeting.

I thank you for your past sympathies and support and hope to see you at the meeting.

Yours,

John M. Robinson

SPRING MEMBERSHIP MEETING ON THURSDAY MAY 24 AT 7:30 – GRACE EPISCOPAL DAY SCHOOL

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings

Dear Members:

The RCHCA spring meeting will be held Thursday May 24 at 7:30 in the
all-purpose room of Grace Episcopal Day School. You will also receive
shortly a post card to this effect. The agenda includes a further discussion
of school site selection issues and related litigation matters, which will
be a voting item. We will also discuss and vote on a possible small
increase in the dues. Other matters will be entertained from the floor if
time permits. Remember that your dues must be paid if you want to vote.

There will not be a newsletter for this meeting because we have no
newsletter editor. The President’s message and other details regarding the
meeting will be posted by e-mail and on our website at rchca.org no less
than two weeks before the meeting. If you are willing to take on the
newsletter, please contact me. The Board would be most thankful for help
with this three times a year task.

Regards,

John M. Robinson

RCHCA Corresponds w/ County Council re B-CC Middle School

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers, RCHCANet

Dear Members –

Attached below is the text of a letter the RCHCA sent to the County Council
on Friday April 6 urging them to retain to the Council in this year’s budget
Council authority to make the final decision on the site selection for new
B-CC Middle School. I urge you to send the same message to the Council if
you are opposed to placing the proposed school in Rock Creek Hills Local
Park. The issue should be addressed in the near future because it is now
under consideration by the Council. You should be advised that the Council
President, Roger Berliner, does not favor the concept even though he is our
district council member.

Regards,

John M. Robinson

Text of the April 6 RCHCA Message to County Council on Retention of Site
Decision Authority by the Council

Dear Council President Berliner and Council Members Andrews, Elrich, Ervin,
Floreen, Leventhal, Navarro, Rice, and Riemer:

I am sure you have all received numerous e-mails and letters
regarding Superintendent Starr’s recommendation to the Board of Education
that the Rock Creek Hills Local Park be the site for the proposed B-CC
Middle School # 2. However the site selection process is moving forward
rapidly with the mandatory referral before the Montgomery County Planning
Board on Monday, April 9, and a hearing before the Board of Education on
Tuesday, April 17, 2012. While you have been provided the Minority Report
of the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association regarding that recommendation
and several of your offices have discussed it with our members, at this
juncture there are two fundamental policy issues involved.

The first policy issue is whether the Board of Education may ultimately rely
on an expedient reclaim right to Rock Creek Hills Local Park in making its
final site selection decision, or should engage in a more thorough analysis
of whether two or three other sites might be preferable for educational
purposes. While this might require making the necessary arrangements with
the Planning Board, at this point the Board of Education staff has made no
meaningful analysis of whether any such alternative sites might result in
lower cost to the taxpayer and would in some cases provide more land to meet
the Board of Educational program requirements. It is clear that the Board
staff does not intend to do so.

The second policy issue is whether the Board of Education should
have sole discretion in determining the structure of important recreation
and social assets in the lower County. While this issue is particularly
acute with regard to the two regulation soccer fields in Rock Creek Hills
Local Park, it is also true with regard to the recreation facilities in some
of the alternative sites considered in the latest site selection process,
including those in North Chevy Chase and Norwood Local Parks. I
respectfully suggest that reliance by the Board of Education on its reclaim
right may foreclose an adequate evaluation of the social and fiscal
implications of its site selection decision absent further review and
consideration by the Council. This is true even though the scarcity of open
land in the lower County raises broader issues that are of great
significance to the County’s long term well being. The Board of Education
staff’s priorities in this regard are clear, and while the position of the
Board of Education itself is unknown at this point, its pending decision is
obviously a matter of concern to a wide range of interested parties.

Given the needs of the broader community that uses the Rock
Creek Hills Local Park and the taxpayers in general, I urge that the
budgetary language for the next fiscal year reserve to the Council the
authority to make the final site selection decision for the proposed B-CC
Middle School #2.

Sincerely yours,

/s/

John M. Robinson

President

Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association.

Note re Anticipated Testimony for April 9 Planning Board Meeting

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers, RCHCANet

Dear Members –

On Monday, April 9 the Planning Board will be hearing testimony on the recent Site Selection Advisory Report and Superintendent Starr’s recommendations to place the new BCC Middle School #2 in Rock Creek Hills Local Park.

You have been urged to appear and show your support for the RCHCA opposition to this
recommendation. I urge you to do so and submit written statements in support
of the RCHCA position. However please remember that the Planning Board
supports our concerns and will have a long and contentious evening.

We should not burden them with repetitive oral statements, so please tell
Jim Pekar and myself know if you plan to speak and the topic. We would like
to coordinate the oral presentations before the meeting.

Regards,

John M. Robinson

POSSIBLE VOTE ON RCHCA POSITION ON SCHOOL SITE ISSUES AT THE RCHCA MEETING

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers

Dear Members –

The newsletter you recently received did not literally state that there will
be a discussion of the middle school siting issue at our March 15 annual
meeting and a possible vote on a RCHCA position. At this point the Board has
no recommendation on what that position should be although at this time the
RCHCA is continuing its opposition to the selection of the Rock Creek Hills
Local Park as the preferred site for the proposed BCC Middle School #2.

Regards,

John M. Robinson

Next Meeting Date Changed to March 15, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings, RCHCA Biz

To our members –

The meeting date for the Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association has been
changed to March 15 at 7:30 to accommodate any delays in the ongoing site
selection process for the BBC Cluster Middle School Number 2. Sandra van
Bochove has been keeping your apprised of these meetings, but I would
mention three specific matters here.

First, the Planning Board will be offered a chance to comment on the site selection before  the Superintendent makes his recommendation.

Second, the County Council has had a staff member who is familiar with the issues in  attendance at all of the Site Selection Advisory Committee meetings. We will advise the  County Council of our concerns immediately after the Site Selection Advisory Committee makes its recommendation because at that point we will have most of the relevant information available.

Third, MCPS has taken the position that there are no barriers to the conversion of RCHP to a site for the school. At this stage we continue to pursue public open spaces issues at the state level through various channels pending a response.

Finally, as previously announced, the March 15 meeting will address the school site selection issues and the election of officers. If you wish to make any nominations, contact Sam Statland or Joe Rosenberg. Please call me if you have any interim questions or concerns.

— John Robinson

Email from John Robinson, President RCHCA: Change in Meeting Schedule, Reminder on SSAC Meetings

By | Board Correspondence, From the RCHCA Officers, Meetings, RCHCA Biz

Dear Rock Creek Hill Residents –

This e-mail contains several fairly important announcements about RCH
related matters that will over the next two months.

1. The first meeting of the new site selection advisory committee (SSAC)
for the new BCC cluster middle school is tomorrow, January 11, 2012 in the
cafeteria of BCC High School from 7 to 9 p.m. The other meetings are also
on Wednesday: January 25, February 8, and February 27. Our lead
representative is Sandra van Bochove, who will be providing you with
periodic updates as the SSAC process moves forward. John Robinson is the
SSAC alternate.

2. Election of Officers for 2012 – Sam Statland (samstatland@verizon.net)
and Joe Rosenberg (jrosenberg123@gmail.com) are serving as the nominating committee. The current officers have agreed to serve for 2012, but
additional suggestions are welcome and should be provided to either Sam or
Joe.

3. 2012 Annual Meeting – The annual meeting is normally held in late
January. However it has been postponed until a rescheduled date of March 8
to accommodate that new SSAC process. As noted, the last meeting of the new
SSAC is February 27. At that point we will know where things stand on the
selection of the site for a new middle school. The March 8 date provides
time for some slippage in the SSAC process and for a summary of the results
to be e-mailed to our members. There would also be a full presentation at
the meeting if the issue is still a matter of concern. There will be no
official report at that date, but we would be in a position to move forward
in response to any initial selection decision resulting from the February 27
SSAC meeting. If a further postponement is necessary I will advise you, but
at present we hope to avoid multiple meetings during the winter season. The
proposed slate of officers for 2012 will also be presented for action at the
meeting. At this point we do not contemplate any other substantive actions
at the annual meeting. However if the middle school matter is resolved to
our satisfaction, the agenda could be expanded.

In closing, my thanks again for all the time that a number of our residents
have committed to RCH matters over the last 12 months. I look forward to
seeing you at the annual meeting and at our several annual social events.

Regards,

John Robinson

RCHCA Reply to the County School Board Motion to Dismiss

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers

2011 11 30 RCHCA Reply to County

I am pleased to tell you that Sandra van Bochove will the principal
representative for RCHCA on the new site selection advisory committee the
Board of Education to advise it on the site for a new BCC Middle School #2.

I will serve as the alternate. There will be four meetings over 2 months
beginning January 16.

In addition, the Board of Education has filed a motion to dismiss our
pending action before the State Board of Education regarding the Board’s
April 28 decision to select RCH Local Park as the site for the new middle
school. The motion is appropriate given the April 28 decision has been
rescinded and therefore there is no longer any legal basis for the action.
Our reply to the Board motion [is] posted  [here 2011 11 30 RCHCA Reply to County] (see below for text version).

We will keep you apprised.

Regards,

John Robinson


Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association
9616 Old Spring Road
Kensington, MD 20895
Local – 301-949-5452
Office – 202-502-6808
Cell – 240-997-4447
jmarkrobinson@verizon.net

November 30, 2011

Office of the Attorney General
Maryland State Department of Education
Attn: Jackie C. La Fiandra – State Board of Appeals
200 St. Paul Place, 19th Floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21202

 

 Re: Rock Creek Hills Citizens  

Association, et al., Appellants

   v.

   Montgomery County Board of

  Education, Respondents

 

 Appellants’ Response to the Montgomery      

 County Board of Education’s Motion to   

  to Dismiss dated November 24, 2011

                                                           

Dear Ms. La Fiandra:

The Appellants in the captioned proceeding are in receipt of the Montgomery County Board of Education’s (County Board) November 23, 2011 Motion to Dismiss in the captioned proceeding.  Appellants concur in the facts as stated paragraphs one through three of the County Board’s motion, including that as of this date there are no official minutes or adopted resolutions supporting the County Board’s November 17, 2011 rescission of Resolution No. 221-11.  It was that resolution that selected the Rock Creek Hills Local Park as the site for a new middle school for the Bethesda Chevy-Chase Cluster.  The Appellants agree that rescission of the Resolution No. 221-11 will moot the instant proceeding.  While Appellants took immediate steps to inform your office of the County Board’s November 17 action, they were not prepared to withdraw their complaint until such time as Appellants could review the official minutes containing the adopted resolution.  This would have preserved an opportunity to comment on the County Board’s action if that should prove necessary.  However, given the draft minutes submitted with the County Board’s November 23 Motion to Dismiss, it appears at this point Appellants will not be required to comment further in this proceeding.

Of particular importance to the Appellants is the fact that the County Board’s resolution appears to incorporate Superintendent Starr’s November 8, 2011 memorandum into the County Board’s November 17, 2011 resolution.  Dr. Starr’s November 8, 2011 memorandum not only contains the procedures for a new site selection process, but equally important, the substantive standards for selecting a site in response to the County Board’s November 17 resolution.  Appellants also note that Appellant RCHCA was requested today to nominate a primary and alternative member to the new Site Selection Advisory Committee pursuant to Dr. Starr’s November 11 memorandum and has done so.  This resolved the remaining outstanding issue with which the Appellants were concerned regarding the County Board’s April 28 resolution. Therefore, assuming that the minutes of County Board’s November 17 are in form and substance similar to the draft minutes attached to the County Board’s November 23 Motion to Dismiss, the Appellants do not oppose that motion.  In closing, I wish to state my appreciation of the professionalism displayed by your office in handling this difficult proceeding.

John M. Robinson

/s/

Rock Creek Hills

Citizens Association

Counsel to the Named

Appellants

 

                                                CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

 

I HEREBY CERTIFY that on this 30th day of November, 2011, I mailed a copy of the forgoing, postage prepaid, to: Judith S. Bresler, Esq., Carney, Kelehan, Bresler, Bennet & Scherr, LLP, 10715 Charter Drive, Suite 200, Columbia, MD 21044.

______/s/______________                                                                                                                           John M. Robinson

 

RCHCA President’s Comments re Dr. Starr’s Recent Recommendation to Reopen Site Selection

By | B-CC Middle School / RCH Park, From the RCHCA Officers, RCHCA Biz

To our members –

My comments on Dr. Starr’s recommendation to reopen the site selection
process for the proposed BCC Middle School #2 will be brief given what has
been said to date. The first is my appreciation to Cathy Fink, Shannon
Hamm, and Sandra van Bochove for organizing and managing such an effective
lobbying campaign before the County Council and the County Executive. Sam
Statland worked behind the scenes on the lobbying effort in addition to his
successful appeal to the State Open Meetings Board. I am also indebted to
Tom Sisti and Sandra for their extensive work on the legal aspects of our
campaign and to David Brown, Esq. for his support. Jim Pekar’s persistent
testimony and blog were at the core of an extended public relations
campaign. The numerous letters by our residents were the essential support
to this effort.

As I understand it, the Rock Creek Hills Local Park site will remain in the
capital budget as a some $47 million place holder for the construction of a
new BBC cluster middle school. The funds would be shifted to any
alternative site that may be selected next spring. Dr. Staff has stated
that the Planning Board is to be fully engaged. As of this evening there
are no details on the structure of the new site selection process. For
this reason the testimony I am providing as your president on November 10
specifically requests that the Rock Creek Hills community have a seat on any
new site selection advisory committee. We will of course work to assure
that any such process is as transparent as possible and that all possible
alternatives are fairly considered.

In the meantime it might to wise to reduce the frequency of our appearances
before the School Board and accept that at this point they are not prepared
to drop the Rock Creek Hills Park site for good. We will continue to keep
this issue quietly but persistently before the County Council in order to
assure that the site ultimately selected meets the educational needs of our
community and of the other communities that share our concerns. I remain
personally convinced that the Rock Creek Hills Park site is not a good site
strictly on educational grounds. As such its selection would not merit the
recreational, environmental, and fiscal costs that would be involved. Best
wishes for the balance of your year and for the health and well being of
your families.

Sincerely yours,

John M. Robinson

for the

Rock Creek Hills Citizens Association