Potomac As of this week, the Board of Education has spent in excess of $200,000 defending their actions in leasing the Brickyard Road school site to Montgomery County so the county can lease the same 20-acre site to MSI at $1,500 a year for 10 years. Not much of a return for the cost of keeping an unwise decision in place. With this continuing financial bleed on taxpayers in mind and in the hopes of finding reasonable solutions and rectifying past mistakes, the plaintiffs in the case have made the Board of Education a formal proposal offering to end their litigation if a few simple conditions are met.
1) The Board of Education, pursuant to their lease with Montgomery County, ask for and receive the land back.
2) Upon reclamation, the Board of Education agrees that any future use of the site will be determined by an open process with citizen comment.
3) That the Board of Education consider agricultural/environmental educational use of the site which would involve maintaining the certified organic status of the land.
In consideration of the foregoing, the petitioners and the cross petitioners would withdraw their appeal. In effect, this proposal provides a solution that puts an end to 18 months of trying to right a decision that should never have become a reality if an appropriate process had been followed to reach it. This has been an 18-month lesson in the perils of not adhering to principles of transparent government. Especially when it is taking place in a county where elected officials pride themselves on heralding transparency and citizens expect it. Here is a potential solution that frees everyone from the weight of continued litigation.
And it does and will continue if unchecked. At the end of last week, Montgomery County filed additional motions in Circuit Court, one being an appeal of the Stay Order in regard to the Board of Education matter. Curious, since the Board of Education who owns the land has not done so. Another motion is a response to citizen's Memorandum for Summary Judgement related to obtaining documents being withheld by the County Executive. This all costs money, takes immense amounts of time and keeps everyone — educators, county officials and citizens — from their jobs and their families. Isn't it time to end this costly, unnecessary and unwarranted dispute? It's all up to the Board of Education.
Ginny Barnes is environmental chair and president elect of West Montgomery County Citizens Association (WMCCA), which is an organizational member of the Brickyard Coalition.