For a good amount of time, I had some trust in the Baltimore Sun…until the past year especially with the possible buying of the Tribune Company (which owns the Sun) by billionaire bandits, the Koch Brothers, who have deformed the “Tea Party” movement with gobs of money. This time, it was clear which side the Sun was taking.
In a recent article by Jon Meoli in the Sun, he slammed the protesters without clearly explaining why they opposed the construction of a new school. Meoli made it seem that the groundbreaking of the school was serene before the protesters interrupted it. Specifically he said that an “eruption [of authority by Kamenetz], which lasted just under three minutes, came after protesters carrying signs that read “Build neighborhood schools not commuter schools,” drowned out remarks by Kamenetz and Board of Education President Lawrence Schmidt.” He further noted that:
“opponents of the 700-seat elementary school at Mays Chapel Park believe it will take away the area’s only green space and is a bad place for a school because there are few children in the area…around 75 protesters turned up at the groundbreaking to try and steal the spotlight from county officials…During Schmidt’s remarks, the crowd chanted “Save our park,” at the school board president, who himself is a Mays Chapel resident. When Schmidt said he looked forward to returning to the site for the school’s opening, a protester yelled that they didn’t want him to come back. Kamenetz’s speech followed, but not before he engaged with some of the more vocal opponents in what became a shouting match between himself and a handful of audience members…Kamenetz shouted down the dissenters from the podium and alternated between asking them to be quiet and to allow him to speak…Once the crowd calmed, Kamenetz explained that the school was necessary to accommodate elementary school overcrowding in the York Road corridor…Officials have said the Mays Chapel school will help alleviate overcrowding at eight schools in the central corridor: Cockeysville, Lutherville, Padonia, Pinewood, Pot Spring, Riderwood, Timonium and West Towson…After a second public hearing in January, the board approved the site again…However, Project Open Space laws protect the land, and the Save Mays Chapel Park Committee, made up of school opponents, has filed a lawsuit claiming the council skirted real estate regulations in making the swap…opponents still believe they can stop the school…The protester’s outbursts cast a shadow on the day for others in attendance: the parents and children from Pinewood and Pot Spring, and school officials who put their time into the project.”
There’s a lot more to this article but mostly it either quotes the public officials there or quotes some parents that is distressed a child had to hear the protesters. I have a sense that such ideas and making it seem like the protesters were trying to steal the limelight puts them a negative light even though their position is explained (sort of). At the same time, WBAL called the protesters “hecklers.” Why would Meoli write such a negative article? Well he’s not Anthony J. Meoli, part of the Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation has given to politicians such as Senator Nancy Jacobs, Howard County Executive David R. Craig, Governor Martin O’Malley, Former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith [Kamenetz during his campaign praised his work on numerous occasions: here, here and here among other places], Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and many more. As a result, it seems to be a problem with the paper itself. One must still remember that the Sun endorsed Kamenetz in 2010 so would be in their interest, as they noted shockingly that “the job of leading Baltimore County government is not unlike running a major corporation…The county would be better served by Mr. Kamenetz’s depth of knowledge when it comes time to navigate the rough waters ahead…This spark of progressiveness is also something we’d like to see out of a county with so much untapped potential.” In the past I have deliberately criticized Kamenetz for possibly having business connections to push forward a plan to close Towson Manor Park (which after a lot of public pressure he backed off), the almost $1,000.000 Pollard Towing gave him in campaign contributions, and the numerous corporate contributors that forked money into his campaign coffers since 2006.
Now, instead of getting all tied up in trying to figure out why Meoli would write a negative article, it seems important to understand what the activists have to say in this fight. Contributor James Mezner to the Lutherville-Timonium Patch wrote that “A group of Mays Chapel residents filed a lawsuit against Baltimore County Council related to the proposed Mays Chapel Elementary School….[saying that] a land-swap approved in January by the council to build the school at Mays Chapel Park was done illegally, since part of the park land was bought with open space funds through the Department of Natural Resources…the lawsuit is only part of the group’s concerns. Its members are also looking out for the children who would be bused far from their homes to attend the proposed school.” While this was helpful, I looked up the group described by the Sun earlier and it even had its own website!
To fully understand their position, I wanted to present their position paper from their website which notes an interesting history implying that they fought this before, something the Baltimore Sun DOES NOT mention, [important parts are bolded]:
The Baltimore County Board of Education has proposed building an additional elementary school in the Lutherville/Timonium area to alleviate the overcrowding of schools along the York Road corridor. Once again, the Mays Chapel Park is one of two sites being considered for a proposed 700+ student elementary school.
An article written by Liz Bowie, Education Reporter for The Baltimore Sun, was published in its Thursday, October 20th issue. Ms. Bowie wrote that the local parents claim that communities around Towson are attracting more young families who want access to the county and good schools and, because of the economic downturn, parents are sending their children to public schools, instead of paying private school tuition that can top $20,000 a year.
Whistler Burch, co-chairman of the Save Mays Chapel Park Committee, was quoted in the same article stating “Within one square mile there are 2,200 residential units. We think there are better solutions.” While county school officials are counting on an elementary school at Mays Chapel to ease overcrowding, the Save Mays Chapel Park Committee is determined to stop the construction.
The 20 acre Mays Chapel Park consists of 10 acres owned by the Baltimore County Board of Education, and the other 10 acres owned by Baltimore County. The 10 acres owned by Baltimore County, was bought ironically with State Program Open Space Funds. The ten acres owned by the Baltimore County Board of Education was developed at a cost of approximately $2,500,000 and is managed by the Baltimore County Department of Recreation & Parks.
The Park and its athletic fields are presently used extensively by the Baltimore County Parks and Recreation for the youth of Baltimore County, along with the large senior population residing in Mays Chapel that use this park and its paths throughout the wooded area for exercise and needed socialization.
There are other solutions to the overcrowding issue than building a new school in either of the proposed locations. The solution should be the soon-to-be-vacant Carver Center for the Arts and Technology School in Towson. In the near term it may be used to house the Stoneleigh students while their facility undergoes an addition and refurbishment. Carver can then be refurbished and an addition added, if required, and then become the new Towson East Elementary School. This solution should be quicker and cheaper to complete than building a new school. In addition to the cost saving, its location would better accommodate bus traffic and both neighborhoods would maintain their most needed “Open Space.” Another solution would be to add on to existing overcrowded elementary schools, therefore allowing students within the geographical area of that school to go to the school closest to their residence. This would alleviate the problem of redistricting all of the schools in this overcrowded corridor.
The Save Mays Chapel Park Committee needs your help! Go on line, www.SaveMaysChapelPark.com, download the petition, sign it and email, fax, or mail the petition. Also, write to your County representatives – County Executive, Councilman, Delegate and Senator – and tell them that you oppose the construction of a school at Mays Chapel Park. The web site shows two lists of names from which to choose, depending upon whether you live north or south of Padonia Road. If you want to volunteer your time to help the Save Mays Chapel Park Committee fight this initiative, contact Whistler Burch, co-chairman of the Committee, at SaveMaysChapelPark@gmail.com, or call him at 410-913-7122.
Help the Committee save Mays Chapel Park. Our Park should not be allowed to disappear forever!
Here are some more comments on the park from the now-closed petition on the subject, showing the anger of ordinary neighborhood residents, numbering 182 in all:
- Please consider the need for land and neighborhood conservation and the significant tax base the residents of Mays Chapel hold who would be little benefited by construction of the school. I also believe that the proposal has the potential to impose fear on the social fabric of the area due to unwanted influx and the unknowns of increased commercialization.
- I live within 50 yards of the park and am opposed to the school!
- We are considering moving to Mays Chapel and were upset to hear about the proposed school.
- If this school is built I am told there will be redistricting necessary to fill the seats. My family lives in Mays Chapel and we enjoy the ability to walk our children to school at Pinewood. This new school would force me to drive my children to school each morning. What sense does that make??? I have further concerns over redistricting changing our middle school as well from Ridgely to Cockeysville. Pinewood is only over by 20 students. Not a crisis in my mind. This proposed location is all wrong. This school would be almost entirely a commuter school. Has the county considered the added cost of fuel for all of the many buses that would be necessary to support the student population?
- This would be an absolute disgrace to put a school in place of the park where that section of the park is mainly retired seniors who moved there because of the park and wildlife, walking path, etc.
- Seriously there’s plenty of other unoccupied spaces around. Go someplace else, don’t ruin my damn park.
- We need to keep a least SOME open spaces for everyone!
- Mays Chapel Park is a beautiful, well used park that promotes the health and well-being of the surrounding communities.
- Contact me if can assist Save Mays Chapel Park!
- There are no where near enough athletic fields around here for our children. Building a school at the expense of these fields is idiotic. There MUST be a better location for the school.
- One of the key reasons I moved here last year is because of the park, which is a central part of the community. The local infrastructure does not support an elementary school. It’s a ridiculous idea all around.
- It would be terrible to take away this park from the residents of the area.
- This plan would literally be a big mistake! So many benefit form this park and putting a school there, is not beneficial to anyone. I”m sure there are other locations that would would be better to accommodate the plans for a new school! This area is certainly not structured for a plan like that!
- Build the school where it is needed!! There is clearly a much higher level of overcrowding elsewhere. Why waste already stretched resources on building a brand new school from the ground up when an existing school (Carver) could be updated and used? GOVERNMENT WASTE!!
- Parks and recreation are equally important; and there are a lot children that have already started at a school and have forged great friendships
- My daughter currently walks to Pinewood ES, we are only steps away from the crosswalk and can see the school from our house. It would be such a waste of money to pay for the gas to bus those in this area to another school. I want you to try to explain to my daughter why she wouldn’t go to the school right across the street and take her away from her friends! I can’t believe busing from this area is even being considered.
- Population density is mostly east of I83, so the new school should be built on that side of I83, where it is truly needed.
- You just spent $2.5 million making that a green space, and you know Mays Chapel did not turn out to be a dense family location, so why would you do this? Look at the already-zoned, already marked “School Site” (on county maps!) at Orchard Hills, just off Bellona at Charles. Our school board at work – not doing their homework!
- We just moved here from Potomac and it took our daughter a long time to adjust to a new school – Pinewood ES, 3rd grade. She is finally very happy there as are we with the special services she receives. I would not want her to be sent to a different school which would probably happen as a result of redistricting. Nor do I want the disappearance of open spaces and parkland.
- Our Towns of Strandhill community represents 39 homeowners who will be affected by any short-sighted action by BCPS and our PUD association directors. Since the BSPS (Baltimore County School System) was granted ownership of the land, the practical complexion of the community has changed and density has increased beyond any realistic scope of the original community plan. The school is not in the best interest of the community. BCPS knows this and are trying to force it here without public hearing. It becomes a complicated and inconvenient “benefit” for BCPS families to be redistricted and routed to this proposed site. Nobody wins with a school here. The plans must be stopped and an alternate selection made. Sign the petition against the school.
- Elementary schools should be built in the neighborhoods where the students live. The Mays Chapel area has very few elementary school age children.
- Please do not take our wonderful park. This community is already densely populated and the demographics are not conducive for an elementary school. Our park is one of the few open outdoor recreational areas servicing not only this but many surrounding communities. In addition the added congestion to the roads and the redistricting and busing of students are major issues. Thanks in advance for your consideration
- I was very disappointed to hear about the plans of Baltimore County to eliminate Mays Chapel Park in order to build a new elementary school. This park serves as a peaceful and tranquil location for the senior citizens in that area, which is actually one of the main reasons many live close to the park. Please consider a different area for the sake of all who enjoy the park as it is.
- Please keep this park! It is one of a very few paved trails in the area (and the only one I ever use).
- A LOVELY PLACE FOR A WALK, THE DOG, AND SPORTS. IT IS VERY MUCH NEEDED AND WOULD BE SORELY MISSED BY THE MANY WHO VISIT THE PARK.
- I believe this site is valuable as open park space as it is. It is highly used and valued in its current form. Putting a school on this site would be devastating for the traffic situation on already busy Padonia Rd, and also eliminate available open space for residents in that area.
- I’ve used this park for years. I would hate to lose it!
- please don’t build a school at this site, many children use it to play, and seniors use the area for much needed exercise.
- The only open space in neighborhood seniors can utilize for a variety purposes. Safe and quite place.
- Mays Chapel Park is a beautiful environmental part of my neighborhood used for children and adults of all ages. It is family and community. It is morally, healthy and value orientated.
- The area that was designated for the school 15 years ago was used for MORE CONDOS!!!!! Baltimore County POLITICS!!!!
- This is a senior community, and a school would not be conducive to the life this wonderful people have come to enjoy!
- IF CARVER CENTER BECOMES AVAILABLE IN A TIMERLY FASHION OBVIOUS CHOICE IS TO USE THIS FACILITY, NOT SPEND MONEY ON NEW CONSTRUCTION. IN ADDITION,WE HAVE ALL TOO LITTLE OPEN SPACE AS IT IS. WE DON”T WANT TO LOSE WHAT LITTLE WE HAVE.
- I see directly into the park and the lacrosse goal net that is used in the warm months. A school building and school buses would geatly detract from my enjoyment of the present quiet, open view i enjoy. .
- the area has mostly seniors whose wellbeing would be greatly impacted negatively by the noise, traffic problems(cars & busses) and loss walking trails, etc.
- I chose Mays Chapel for peace and quiet a senior needs, plus exersizing with fellow seniors, AND it was promised to be that enviornment
- Why build what is already standing? Recycling can include buildings – stop the waste!!
- Keep Park as it is now and build school elsewhere!
- This park was created for the residents of this community for athletics for youths and excercise and enjoyment for the senior population for Mays Chapel. Select another location that won’t impose the B of E’s will on a peaceful and settled community. Perhaps place the school in one of the Board members neighborhood . Hits home doesn’t it?
- I moved in this area for the park. Senior citizen need a park to walk
- Many of us have many fond memories of this park. May we continue to make them!
- This park is valued by, and important to, all generations! Please preserve it!
- This area is already overbuilt and park is used by kids and seniors
- There are VERY FEW children in the immediate vicinity of Mays Cha pels Park while there are MANY people without young children. I’m sure you could find a site that would better serve the children.
- There are a lot of seniors that live off Roundwood who walk- they use the trails and the park ALL THE TIME. A school will bring more traffice to that area- a light at the other end of Grauls and will take away why the seniors moved there. The other school on Old Bosley is fine and out of the way. Mays Chapel is an established community and does not need the headaches, the traffic, the crowding, etc.
- This park is desperately needed to serve the seniors in the high density housing (high rises) across the street. To zone that area for high density and then take the only park away would be terrible and outrageous.
- It’s anti–environmental proposal. Why destroy woodland for more concrete? The area is already crowded with buildings. The infrastrucure won’t tolerate more traffic. Can Seniors who use the park ever get a break?
- I walk in the park all the time and enjoy it. I don’t want to lose it.
- The added congestion to the area would not be good planning
- It is not logical to build a school in the only open area of a congested neighborhood occupied primarily by senior citizens.
- Too few children live within walking distance of this site so virtually everyone will have to be bussed in. This is the only green space in the area and it needs to remain as such. Consider reopening the Loch Raven school and expanding existing facilities which would be much less expensive.
- One of the best parks for seniors walking, kids rec…allows this to be a pedestrian community. Critical for all the older people living there.
- please dont build an elementary school. we need this area for residents and their dogs. please there is not enough room for a school
- my dog will be so, so sad!!!! please save the park. it’s so beautiful and we love it.
- Mays Chapel is a densly populated area with a lot of traffic on Padonia Rd. Building a school in this area is not in the best interest of the children nor the population who reside in this area. Too much traffic, not enough green recreation area & not that many children live within walking distance. Please reconsider your other options & find vertical space to enlarge the schools…
- We need to save our limited open space.
- Existing schools have space to enlarge their facility. Construction on new property would cost much more. Our taxes are not to be wasted but they should be used as effectively as possible. This school administration needs to review their budget and make wise budget expenditures.
- lived here for 15 years , expect on living here forever , a well liked park for us senior citizens , flat , shaded , beautiful landscaped, a place to connect with other people, not ant other walking areas close . much needed area for to walk , schools and buses would take so much away from that beautiful park.
- Already too much traffic on Padonia Road. The Mays Chapel Athletic Field is always in use and their are two few available for young activities. Too dense a population already in area and with parking on one side emergency vehicles find it hard to access the area. Too many seniors that do not pay attention while driving and have already taken down several brick pillars.
- This is a wonderful little park. We enjoy walking here most days.
- http://www.thepetitionsite.com/33/help-to-plant-2-trees-daily-20111020/ http://www.thepetitionsite.com/41/take-action-care2-members-visitors/ support!
- School overcrowding is certainly a major issue, but closing down this park will be detrimental to the physical and mental well-being of countless invividuals who live in the Mays Chapel community, and enjoy the park on a daily basis. Please reconsider your consideration and look for an alternative location to build the elementary school.
- Let’s fight this as strongly as we did three years ago!
Personally, I can see what from an environmental perspective this would be a horrible idea. Getting rid of just this park won’t help out the habitat of the animals that live in the wooded and non-wooded area, making these animals homeless if the park is destroyed. Additionally, it seems that all of the energy used to build the school and bring students to the seemingly commuter school would caused increased greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming along with threatening the area’s sense of community. Not only this but more of those evil impervious surfaces will be created which creates more runoff after there is already enough of those types of surfaces in this county.