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Soccer Fields in Potomac Neighborhood? April 15, 2011
  Brickyard Public Meeting
Earlier this month, I attended a public meeting hosted by Executive Branch staff regarding the proposal for soccer fields on the Brickyard School Site in Potomac.  When this issue surfaced in early March, I was concerned that the community had very little opportunity to weigh in on the proposal.  While I continue to believe that we would have been better served to have had the conversation before a commitment to soccer had been made by the County Executive, those who attended the meeting did have at least an initial opportunity to voice its strong (and overwhelmingly negative) reaction.   


Councilmember Leventhal and I have encouraged the County Executive to see if there isn't a middle ground in this contentious debate -- adding some soccer capacity but retaining the organic farming too.  Not surprisingly, this "common ground" approach has won us few plaudits from either side of the debate, but Councilmember Leventhal and I suspected that when we waded in.

Soccer Fields in Potomac Neighborhood? March 8, 2011
Letter to Board of Education

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.

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