Construction will continue on a new school in Fort Washington, Maryland, despite neighbors’ protests over flood concerns.
Protesters lined Swan Creek Road at the beginning of the month, successfully halting tree clearing for the planned school — a 234,000-square-foot kindergarten through eighth grade school on wetland. The residents said they're in favor of the new school but not the location.
In a meeting this week with Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks residents were told construction will continue.
“We had real high hopes that the meeting would go well but we are very disappointed,” resident Hazel Robinson said.
“[Alsobrooks] said firmly that she does not intend to change the site, although she’ll make every attempt to try to address our concerns,” resident Carter Ferrington said.
Some neighborhoods in the area flood after a hard rain.
“We've seen at least 2 1/2 feet of water in our street, and it has created an absolute river that runs 180 degrees around our house,” resident Zeneta Walthour said.
Some residents worry their stormwater management will get worse when the forest is gone.
“The truth is we’ve long standing flood issues that have not been addressed in that area, and people want that addressed before any trees are taken down,” Prince George’s County Council member Monique Anderson Walker said.
The current elementary school, Potomac Landing, has 10 acres connected to 14 acres of Maryland Park and Planning land. School officials deemed the site insufficient for the new school and are clearing an adjacent 24 acres of wetland instead.
“I don't know if there's anything that can be said to really make people happy on this,” resident Abigael Pari Crowe said.
Crowe is founder of neighbors for Fort Washington commercial development. She supports the project and what the new state-of-the-art school could mean for the community.
“I've seen people of all ages — some of them are grandparents, so they have intentions there, but some of them are single, they never want to have kids — and they’re still for the school because they understand that good schools impact the entire community,” she said.
The county executive's office says the project is going to move forward, but the county executive is putting an additional $2 million into stormwater management and starting a task force to allow both sides to communicate as this school is built.
The new K-8 school will replace the current elementary and middle school in Fort Washington. A spokesperson with the school system said the Board of Education has not determined what will happen to those school buildings once students are relocated.