Five community members had the opportunity to meet with Ike Leggett. Below is their letter to him:
June 25, 2011
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett
Executive Office Building
101 Monroe Street, 2nd Floor
Rockville, MD 20850
Re: Meeting on Brickyard Rd. School site with Potomac community leaders - June 21, 2011
Dear Mr. Leggett,
We thank you and your staff for meeting with us in your offices on June 21. The high attendance (200+) and level of participation at the two public meetings on April 4 and June 9, 2011 bear witness to the deep concern and frustration over your proposal to develop soccer fields on the current 20 acre site of Nick's Organic Farm which has been leased from MCPS for the last 31 years. Our primary purpose in meeting with you was to request that our input as a community be given more consideration since you have been pursuing the idea of soccer fields on the site for at least 2 years without the communities' knowledge.
This letter is an effort to clarify what we understand to be your position on a number of issues related to the proposal. Please correct any mistakes in our current perception. Like you, we have constituents to which we feel responsible so accuracy of information is critical to us.
The following is our understanding of your position on the issues raised at our meeting and questions regarding them:
Public Input - It is your belief the Potomac community is currently engaged in the only process to which they are legally entitled which includes Public meetings like those on April 4 and June 9 as well as participation in the Request For Proposals (RFP) process, since there exists no formal 'process' which obliges you to seek community input to pursue an 'idea'. Public involvement will increase once the RFP yields a candidate to develop the site and a plan goes to Mandatory Referral at Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) At that point, environmental and traffic studies will be undertaken as part of their review.
Master Plan - Your office is pursuing an idea proposed roughly 2 years ago by soccer interests to increase the number of soccer fields in the down county. You believe a need for more fields exists and that the Potomac Subregion Master Plan provides the basis and rationale for your proposal. To that end, you have signed a lease with MCBOE for the site and are moving forward with the (RFP) process. We welcome your commitment to the Mandatory Referral process but you did not answer the question of whether you would abide by the Planning Commission findings once they are rendered.
Dual Use - You are currently committed to dual use of the 20 acre site. You said this means attempting to place both soccer fields and some permutation of Nick's Organic Farm on the same site. You intend to weight RFP proposals toward achieving this goal. In keeping with this commitment, you have stipulated that there will be no lighted fields, no artificial turf or sound system on the site. You also said an RFP proposal for one field on the site would meet County objectives.
Traffic - You asserted that weekday traffic will not be impacted by your plan but provided no support for the assertion unless you believe lack of lights and sound system will lead to that end. Do you intend to restrict field use for soccer practice and games during the week? If so, how? Brickyard Rd. already has safety issues on weekends caused by the heavy volume of bicycle traffic. Given that soccer field use would be heaviest on weekends, are you considering limiting or banning bicycle traffic for Brickyard Rd., McArthur Blvd., and Falls Rd.? If so, how?
Lease Modification - You acknowledge misconceptions created by language in the lease you signed with MCBOE. These include references to the site being used "only for ball fields". It is your intention to make all corrections to the lease at the same time; when the RFP is complete. This includes adding language to the lease that the Brickyard site may be used for an organic farm and the insertion of the restrictions of no lights, no artificial turf and no sound system.
Extension of Comment Period - At our request, you have agreed to extend the comment period on the RFP proposal from June 30 to September 1, 2011. You have also agreed to alter the County website devoted to this proposal so that it reflects your commitment to a dual purpose and to post ideas and comments garnered from the 2 public meetings where you collected the information via flip charts.
We differ in our interpretation of language regarding Brickyard Middle School site and other school sites referenced in the Potomac Subregion Master Plan and believe that your proposal constitutes a significant departure from what the community expected based on the recommendations found there. We further believe such a departure coupled with the fact that this proposal sets a precedent, warranted engaging us much earlier, particularly when the MCBOE determined the site would not go through the surplus process as anticipated in the Potomac Subregion Master Plan. We continue to believe that the public deserves at least the same amount of time to be involved in considering appropriate use of this property as was spent by the County behind closed doors before the lease was signed.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to discuss our concerns. We hope it won't be the last meeting we will have with you on this proposal. Nick's Organic Farm has not only been a good neighbor but an excellent steward of the land and in doing so, created something unique to Montgomery County and the Chesapeake region. We intend to be vigilant throughout the months ahead. We too believe we have the greater public good to consider.
Ginny Barnes - President of West Montgomery County Citizens Association (WMCCA)
Ted Duncan - President of Citizens Association of River Falls (CARF)
Keith Williams - VP of CARF
Elle Cain - Board Member of WMCCA
Curt Uhre - Member - Brickyard Coalition