MCPS claims it can build on the park because the Board of Education owns it. It is the site of a former MCPS school, but the school system transferred the land to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC).
When the M-NCPPC developed the park in the early 1990s they accepted funds from the Program Open Space (POS). This is a program managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to distribute funds from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to preserve open space.
The use of Program Open Space funds was inconsistent with the reclamation terms of the transfer agreement under which the M-NCPPC took title to the property. This was the case since use of these funds places restrictions on future public use of parks, in contradiction with the terms of the original transfer agreement.
After the second site selection process, Starr recommended the site and the Board of Education approved it in April of 2012. The Save The Rock Creek Hills Park group then filed the suit that will again be discussed tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Circuit Court.
As the episode has played out, Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster parents foremost concerned with overcrowding in the cluster, have seemingly grown weary of the process. At a Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board meeting on Monday, one was dismissive of the lawsuit when discussing overcrowding with MCPS planner Bruce Crispell.
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.