You may have heard about a proposal for new soccer fields on the Brickyard school site in Potomac. Currently, the site is leased by Montgomery County Public Schools to an organic farmer, who has farmed the land there for 31 years. I was surprised to see a proposed lease agreement between MCPS and Montgomery County on the Board of Education's agenda for action later today.
I am disappointed that when the County Executive wrote to the school system in November 2009 to request the lease agreement, he did not share his intention to lease the site and issue a Request for Proposal for soccer fields with the community. Montgomery County prides itself on process and transparency - and in my view, the Executive Branch has not fulfilled these fundamental obligations to our residents in this case.
As a former coach, I understand the need for more fields. The scarcity of fields downcounty presents a significant challenge to parents and to athletic organizations. On the other hand, the nature of Brickyard Road, with its winding turns in the heart of a residential area, may not lend itself particularly well to the type of intensive use that is contemplated by four new soccer fields. Others might feel that the organic farming taking place there is the best use for the site. Each perspective is a legitimate point of view - points of view that I believe should be explored in an honest, upfront conversation that engages the community and considers neighborhood concerns while making the best use of the County's asset.
It is in that context that last week I asked the Board of Education to postpone action on this item, until there has been more time for meaningful public input. In my view, if the use of this site is going to be modified, the community is owed an open and transparent dialogue from the start.