"The property was previously owned by the Board of Education and was the location of Kensington Junior High School, which closed in 1979. The Board transferred the land to the county, with the provision it could be reclaimed if the land was ever needed for a school. The property was subsequently transferred to the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) in 1990 for use as a park."
By now, it should be apparent to anyone following this issue that this statement is inaccurate. The Kensington Park Retirement Community stands on approximately one-third of the site of the former Kensington Junior High (KJH), including its Northern access road.
[ See aerial photos above, also available at http://bit.ly/H59tvn ]
After KJH was closed, the site was broken up, with about the northern third deeded to our county's Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC), which financed with tax exempt bonds the building of a facility providing independent living, assisted living, and Alzheimer's care to over 200 senior citizens. Thus, the old KJH site is now a dual-use site, balancing compatibility among three constituencies: The elder-care facility, park users, and the community.
Rock Creek Hills Park, itself, is substantially reduced from the former KJH site — it is significantly smaller, and lacks a former access road to the North, as well as a through North-South roadway. Rock Creek Hills Park fails to meet the overwhelming majority of the MCPS middle school site evaluation criteria; the 2011 MCPS feasibility study proposed building on the steep slope of the small site, in contravention of concerns expressed by our Planning Board and County Council decades ago.
Friday's error is disappointing, but not surprising, given MCPS's history of repeatedly ignoring facts and manifesting indifference towards the existence of the elderly residents of Kensington Park:
- In April of 2011, before the Board of Education voted to select the site of Rock Creek Hills Park as the location for B-CC middle school #2, MCPS failed to notify the HOC, Kensington Park management, or Kensington Park residents.
- In May of 2011, before the Board of Education voted to approve a feasibility study for B-CC middle school #2 on the site of Rock Creek Hills Park, MCPS failed to notify the HOC, Kensington Park management, or Kensington Park residents.
- In December of 2011, when MCPS assembled the recent, supposedly inclusive, site selection advisory committee, they failed to provide representation to the HOC, Kensington Park management, or Kensington Park residents.
During the feasibility study conducted over the summer of 2011, MCPS officials were asked what steps would be taken to protect the elderly residents of Kensington Park from what was estimated to be a two-year period of heavy construction right next to their home. The answer was, "That has not been an issue that's been brought up." [See video above, also available at http://youtu.be/TaWG_lvd9Jg ] After this issue was brought up, MCPS failed to address it.
Communities are comprised of multiple constituencies that live in harmonious balance with one another. Friday's news release shows that MCPS continues to ignore the facts about the site, and to manifest indifference towards the existence of the elderly of our community. Let us hope that our County Executive, whose concurrence the Board of Education must secure for the property to be transferred from the Parks Department (another fact that MCPS continues to overlook) will respect the needs of all in our community.