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LETTER: School Board Vote Invalid For New Mays Chapel School Site

The President of the West Padonia Road Community Association believes the vote to approve Mays Chapel Park as the site for a new elementary school should be recalled.

To submit a letter to the editor, write to editor Nick DiMarco at nickd@patch.com.

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By: Dave Suarez-Murias, President of the West Padonia Road Community Association.

The Baltimore County Board of Education voted on March 20 to build a 700-seat regional elementary in school in the middle of a county planned retirement community.

The vote was invalid because the school board relied on the claims of Board President Lawrence E. Schmidt and Executive Director of School Physical Facilities Michael G. Sines, who provided incorrect material facts.

They stated that no infrastructure existed within 1,000 feet of the Dulaney Springs site. They further claimed that building as Dulaney Springs would cost as much as $4 million more to to complete the project. An ordinary man can take a walk, find and see that there is infrastructure in place at Dulaney Springs.

The rushed vote came one night after a community requested meeting at Loch Raven High School where Mays Chapel residents voiced their opposition to save Mays Chapel Park.

Statistics show that 95 percent of the Central Area overcrowding wold be relived within a half-mile of the Dulaney Springs site.

The school board has owned this site since 1976. The 20-acre deforested site is ready to stake out and build on. The children would have a shorter bus travel time and the redistricting would be simple.

There would be no adverse impacts to the residents surrounding Mays Chapel North Park.

Put the school where the kids are.

The Mays Chapel community members have verified the availability of adequate utilities, electric, water, sewer and storm drainage within 20 feet of the barely used Dulaney Springs site.

The cost to build at Dulaney Springs is really cheaper since the east and south sides of this site have road frontage each over 100 feet long. There are no existing curb, gutter, parking lots or trees to remove as there are at Mays Chapel Park.

There is adequate space for the 16.5 acre school and recreation site concept. The site is high on a beautiful hill with sunny views to the south toward Towson. There are no adverse impacts to nearby Stella Maris and Mercy Ridge, which are both half a mile away.

David Lever, executive director of the IAC, has already accepted Dulaney Springs as a valuable, buildable school site in the inventory of Lutherville. The school can still be completed by May 2014 because of the new accelerated construction plan based on the prototype design from Vincent Farm Elementary School.

Grimm and Parker, the large and diverse architects, should easily adapt the LEED-certified project with a minimal carbon footprint since only some sod has to be removed.

The approved state funding level of $28 million will still be available to be used at the logical choice site at Dulaney Springs.

In January, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz asked the seniors to provide alternative sites. The seniors gathered facts from the school board, parents, PTA members and county records.

Six alternative sites where identified to relieve the over crowding. Attempts to reach the county executive by letters, phone and emails to bring the facts to his attention have failed.

One community member attempted to contact Mr. Kamenetz at home by leaving a friendly phone message. Later that day, a sergeant in his security team passed on to the County Executive the message to hold a meeting in Mays Chapel North to personally face the community.

In 2002, John Weber, then-director of recreation and parks, ordered the park to be saved from being sold off as a surplus property, slated for more condos. Over $4 million of taxpayer money was invested to build the park. The site has evolved into a terrific public meeting surrounding neighborhoods and the recreation council to use and for the seniors. It is the perfect model for a park facility.

The ecosystem and natural habitat of 100-year-old trees surrounding the park are a wonderful quiet place to teach the grandchildren the benefits of conserving Maryland’s diminishing natural heritage.

The 20-acre property in Mays Chapel was deeded in 1973 to Baltimore County so that if and when the Mays Chapel North community needed a small school for residents of the PUD, a site would be available. Only a few school aged students live in the area.

From our points of view, the entire School Board is attempting to “BULLY AND INTIMIDATE” the area residents of Mays Chapel into giving up this park. Six other sites exist closer to Towson.

The board still faces the question of the invalid vote. The board expects honesty from the children, while they do not practice what they preach.

There is a legal case pending to recall the vote.

There is a moral issue regarding the right and wrong thing to do.

Senior citizens are the soul of all communities.

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Please refer to related content and past stories to the right of this page.

Jennifer Liles June 29, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I drove past here recently and I think that it is hysterical that the people who have a problem with a school (a needed school) don't have a problem with the "New" senior housing and professional buildings. When my grandmother was buried at Mays Chapel, I remember saying, wow, she must have picked this area because of the farm across the street. A year later came the townhomes. When you have expansion, then you must be willing to accept all expansion. I don't think that it is fair to say, we need this park more than children need a school. I know that there are children in that area because they go to my child's school and are her friends. The school is needed and if you need an area to walk, maybe walk around the outside of the newly completed school that is of utter importance to this tax payer.
kindman June 29, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Seriously need to give up on this. Schools will be built on both sites if not more within the next five to ten years. The county is growing rapidly in number and will need to be completely redistricted. Schools are much better than a darn retail center which pop up everywhere but nobody seems to object to those. Stop being selfish. You wouldn't want your child sitting in a classroom of 35 students. Oregon Ridge is a preserved park area within a short drive. Try finding something like that in Towson. You pressured the county into building west Towson ES which was a mistake and is already over crowded the last time they wanted to use a site THEY OWN and now you are being selfish again. You are the same folks who probably rallied not to close a local school when your kids were young because it was underpopulated. Whatever matters to you. The area needs a school. Raise the money out of your own pockets and buy another piece of land for the county if it means that much to you.
Nancy June 29, 2012 at 07:09 PM
There are 20 acres at the site. 10.18 acres are designated "open space" and designated a park by the deed. The remaining 9.82 acres were to be used as a community school IF and WHEN the Mays Chapel North area residents' children required a school. It appears "funny" when the Baltimore County Council is working on more open space for the North end but is "stealing" open space from the same area.

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