Kensington Neighborhood Objects to Proposed Middle School

Rock Creek Hills Park is a quiet place to walk your dog with two soccer fields, tennis courts, a playground and now a controversy that has brought neighbors together.

Overcrowding in Bethesda and Chevy Chase has put a stop to building new homes until more classroom space opens, Montgomery County Public Schools officials said. The school system originally chose to build a middle school at Rosemary Hills/Lyttonsville Park, but the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission wouldn’t release that parcel, so the school board quickly moved to its alternate plan at Rock Creek Hills Park in Kensington, Md.

At a community meeting Tuesday night, neighbors expressed outrage because the school system never notified them of the plan to build a school in their backyard.

“Here you had the board vote without input from us and yet they were afraid to show up for our meeting,” resident Kevin Madden said.

“I am pro education, but this park is the heart of our community, our green space,” Cathy Fink said.

“It’s too small for a middle school,” Jim Pekar said. “The streets are narrow for buses and there are no community sidewalks.”

Westland is the only middle school serving the BCC cluster and it’s getting overcrowded, according to the school system.

“We understand there are people opposed to it and we are sympathetic to that,” schools spokesman Brian Edwards said. “The greater good must be another middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area and there is just not a lot of vacant land in the Bethesda area.”

In 1979 when enrollment was declining, Kensington Junior High was closed and torn down. It was replaced by Kensington Park, a quiet residence for 200 seniors which, ironically, borders on Rock Creek Hills Park. The managers of Kensington Park said they weren’t consulted about the school project, either, and they are concerned about the effect building the school will have for their residents. Specifically, Marketing Director Randy East said he is concerned about how two years of construction noise will affect some of the more fragile residents with heart problems or dementia.

The residents of Rock Creek Hills Park will lobby the Montgomery County Council and hired a lawyer to appeal the middle school project.

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