Ground breaking for the reconstruction of Richard Montgomery HS is scheduled for July 9 (2005), at 2:00 pm on the playing fields of the school. The general public is invited and Hungerford neighbors are encouraged to attend. The PTA is circulating the following letter from RMHS principal.
[Click here to view letter on July 9 Ground Breaking and construction]
[Click here to jump to discussion of parking issue for the neighborhood.]
Richard Montgomery High School is slated for reconstruction soon. The school has been over capacity for some time and its aging condition is a problem for operations. Montogmery County Public Schools has been planning for some time to reconstruct the facility but has been stuck on how to do so and affording the projected costs. Notwithstanding tight County budgeting, money has been allocated for this project to proceed. The present plan and schedule includes construction in 2005-2007 with the new building opening for use in September 2007. Then the old building would be demolished and that area reconstructed during 2007-2008.
The proposed new RMHS building is a four story structure (the first story would be a partial basement, built into the hillside) situated along the Fleet Street frontage of the site. Its new capacity is 2400 students, a 38% increase (29% increase from current over-capacity enrollment). The old Park Street School building will be demolished and its site integrated with the existing RMHS parcel. Main access to the new building is off new driveways from Fleet Street. The main parking area would continue to be accessed from RM Drive but has a different configuration and siting. The Hungerford neighborhood, and residenial lots along Mt. Vernon Place, will adjoin various playing fields along the southern boundary of the school site.
The proposed plan includes operating the existing school on site while the construction of the new school also occurs on site. This is accomplished by situating the new main building on a different part of the site. Once the new building is ready for occupancy, the school would shift buildings during summer recess and reopen the new school year in the new building. Then the old building would be demolished and playing fields would be completed on its ground space. This plan keeps RMHS operating on its own site throughout the reconstruction. Utilization of the old Northwood High as a holding school would be avoided.
The following images are available on-line that display graphic detail of this plan. Click on the links below to access each image.
[Warning: These images are large graphic files.]
Parking Issue for Hungerford Neighborhood
While, in general, we believe the proposed reconstruction is a good design and plan, one significant problem exists for our neighborhood. This Association is concerned with the sufficiency of parking in the proposed plan. We expect the impact of regular overflow parking will be substantial on residential streets (Mt. Vernon Place and adjoining blocks). This represents a worsening of existing conditions.
The MCPS planning application for RMHS notes that "...unfortunately students also park along Mount Vernon Place as overflow requires." And after this reconstruction, "...we must assume that students will continue to park along Mount Vernon Place." Further, the proposed reconstructed and enlarged RMHS has less student parking, not only proportionally but also less absolutely, than the current facility. The details on this are that the current facility has 325 on-site parking spaces. While the proposed new facility will have about 30+% more student capacity, the on-site parking will only be 327 spaces (plus 67 "after hours" spaces in the bus loop); effectively reducing the available on-site student parking from the present 105 student spaces to 65 proposed spaces. So the new facility will have more students and less parking for them. The following table is scanned directly from the MCPS proposal.
New RMHS Traffic Impact Table
[Table scanned from MCPS special exception application, highlight added.]
While MCPS proposes to control the use of on-site spaces to seniors with a real need to drive to school (such as commuting to off-site work-study activities), no plan is proposed to reduce over-all student driving to school and therefore the need for parking at or near the facility.
As a neighborhood advocacy association, two points are particularly grievous to us in this proposed plan regarding parking. First, for a number of years, when dealing with the issue of student parking in the neighborhood, school officials have suggested that they would address the problem in the expected reconstruction of the facility. Not only are they failing to do so, but the situation appears to be getting numerically worse. Second, their statement in the planning applications that they intend to continue to rely on parking along Mt. Vernon is tantamount to announcing their treatment of this residential street as a parking lot. This is rank opportunism to expect to constantly capitalize on open public parking for a predictable institutional use.
While one solution for the impact on Mt. Vernon Place would be imposing a residential parking district (similar to recent Colonial Court enactment), this is not a general solution since it will only shift this burden elsewhere, not address the insufficiency of parking at the school. We believe a better solution is to increase parking at the facility to an adequate level for its own operation. Under the proposed plan this likely requires the addition of structured parking (such as a parking deck) to increase capacity. We see no architectural or engineering reasons this cannot be accomplished. However, it is more expensive than surface parking and therefore a cost motivation exists among school planners not to pursue it. This is not unmindful to their mission; cost of structured parking does not contribute directly to educational attainment. Thus, expending this cost is not within the likely shared outlook of school officials. However, the fundamental issue of the public interest in MCPS building an adequate facility remains. Clearly, regarding parking, the proposed plan is not an adequate facility.
Copyright © 2005, Hungerford Civic Assoc.
Last updated: June 7, 2005.