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Planning Board Could Transfer Rock Creek Hills Park Thursday

By Aaron Kraut

Tuesday - 7/9/2013, 2:30pm  ET

One of the early site plans for the proposed middle school at the Rock Creek Hills Local ParkThe Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday could transfer Rock Creek Hills Park (3701 Saul Rd.) back to Montgomery County, where the county school system hopes to build a controversial middle school to ease overcrowding in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster.

The Rock Creek Hills Citizens’ Association has challenged the MCPS decision to build there at virtually every step, prompting superintendent Joshua Starr to start a new site selection processfiling an unsuccessful appeal with the Maryland State Board of Education and last September filing a lawsuit that was thrown out in April.

The Board of Education transferred the land of the park to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in 1990 on the condition that if it determined it needed it for a a school, M-NCPPC would transfer it back. Montgomery County must reimburse the Commission $695,052 for improvements made to the park since 1990.

The Save The Rock Creek Hills Park group said they will appeal the Montgomery County Circuit Court ruling that threw out the suit. Opponents of the middle school on the park site want to preserve the land for park uses. In 2011, the Montgomery County Planning Board raised concerns about using park land for new school sites.

Planning Department staff is has recommended the Board approve the transfer on Thursday.

MCPS is planning for the new middle school to open in August 2017 to deal with over-enrollment at Westland Middle School and the reassignment of Grade 6 students from Chevy Chase and North Chevy Chase Elementary Schools.

Westland received a six-classroom addition in the 2009-2010 school year, but as the only middle school in the cluster was 136 students over its 1,063 capacity this year. Crispell said MCPS is projecting 1,600 middle school students in the cluster when the Grade 6 reassignments are made.