Monday, December 27, 2010

Introducing.....Holding Schools and Modernization Pre Phase I

Earlier this year I put forth a plan called the Columbia School Reconstruction Act. It was and is a far reaching plan to Modernize the aging School Buildings in Columbia and put them up to par with new Schools built in other parts of the County. I was very vague on how I would execute this plan, why? Because I didn't have a clue on how I could do it. This post will go into specifics on how to do so. Of course what this doesn't do is indicate how to fund such a bold venture but after decades of funding new School Construction and short changing Columbia Schools, it's time Columbia got a piece of the action. The need for additional buildings has gone down in other parts of the County and not only have Columbia Schools aged but in recent years their enrollment has sky rocketed making the need for intervention all the more urgent. Columbia, it's your turn and here's how it will all be done.

I have extensively researched Montgomery County Schools as they're another rich County in Maryland with Schools that both brand new and aging. Montgomery County has come up with a good way to modernize and or replace old School Buildings that have reached the end of their life cycle and give the student population a place to learn during construction. Montgomery County has what they call "Holding Schools" these are Schools of theirs that have closed and are open to populations of Schools that are modernized or rebuilt. Howard County doesn't have any such Schools right now but it can. I've discovered how it can have three.
The first is Clarksville Elementary, in this region of the County we over built. Dayton Oaks, Clarksville, and Pointers Run are all slated to be just over half full in the coming years. That's a lot of wasted space. Clarksville can close and its district can attend either Dayton Oaks and Pointers Run allowing for full utilization of each School while Clarksville opens its doors to west Columbia Students from 2012-2020.
Next will be Cradlerock School. Cradlerock has ceased to be a Prek-8 and has split into two traditional Elementary and Middle Schools. Presumably the Elementary School will be named Dasher Green like it was before and the middle School will be Owen Brown just like it was before.
The two are slated to continue sharing a roof but I have a plan to change that. Owen Brown was supposed to have its own High School which explains why there are so many ball fields near the School.
Obviously Owen Brown High was never built and students attend Oakland Mills for High School. But the available ball fields will allow for the construction of two new separate buildings one an Elementary School and one a Middle School.These will be the first new Schools built under the Reconstruction Act and construction will begin in the 2011-2012 School year and the new Schools will open Fall of 2012. I'm making all construction projects one year instead of two. Cradlerock will be a Holding School for itself and when it empties, for other East Columbia Schools. The two Schools pictured above are new Montgomery County Schools that Columbia will model its Schools after. The first picture is the new Owen Brown Middle and the second is the new Dasher Green Elementary.
The third Holding School, which won't be used that often will be the old Elkridge Elementary. This stopped being a School when its replacement opened in 1992. It will mostly be used for when High Schools are rebuilt and the districts are carved in three (one at each holding) but will be used for other ventures as well. A couple of Schools won't need holding Schools because their replacements will be built on a different site.

Now I've used a new term that I haven't used before until writing this post "modernization" this is what some of the Schools will undergo instead of a complete tear down while others will undergo a complete tear down. Montgomery County uses this term for Schools that are old but have had recent additions added on and said additions because they're not old will be spared. Only the original part of the building gets torn down and connected to the addition. A modernization is much more than a standard "systematic renovation" that older Howard County Schools get, a modernization is everything but a replacement School, a modernized and a completely torn down School will look exactly the same; brand spankin' new inside and out.

Also during the summer of 2011 Deep Run Elementary will undergo systemic renovations.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Long Reach Reinvestment

Although I'm calling for a lot of redevelopment in Long Reach there are developments here that need not hit the wrecking ball. At the same time their exterior facades could use a lot of updating so that's when I put out a "compromise" post that involves reinvesting into the Communities in question and modernizing the exterior to give equity to Home Owners so they can do the same on the inside. So, after a month of completely bulldozing Long Reach lets end it on a happier note that doesn't involve displacement.

First we start in Locust Park, believe it or not some of Locust Park will still be standing after the demolition crews have done their jobs. The Wooded Ridge Town Homes on Lambskin Lane have escaped the difficulties that the rest of Locust Park hasn't been able to. The Homes are rather small but that alone isn't reason to redevelop them. Also if you're looking to buy you can get a good price here.
The rehabbed Wooded Ridge will feature brand new bricks, trim, roofs, shutters, and windows. New grass will be planted as will shrubs and flowers. If there are sick trees that hinder the growth of new grass then that tree will be cut down and a new baby tree will go in its place.
Next we go to Phelps Luck to the Town Homes at the intersection of Phelps Luck Drive and Lightspun Lane. These feature brick and stucco exteriors that lets face it are just plain ugly. Maintenance has been so so as a whole but even good maintenance can't cure ugly.
As these Homes are fixed up, the brick homes will get new bricks and the stucco homes will get vinyl siding. Newer more modern looking windows will be installed as well.

Here's a look at what the new backs of the Homes will look like if you're driving down Tamar Drive. If you didn't know any better you'd think these Homes were redeveloped.
Now Bladegreen Lane holds a secret, it would appear that in passing it's just single family homes but guess again! At the end of the road lies the King Charles Town Homes. They're just a little dated and offer some very large end units. Currently their fronts are a mixture of brick and siding, their new facades will be all brick.
Now King Charles Town Homes will be fit for a King.
Now we come to Wood Creek Town Homes. These homes are almost indentical to Bryant Square in Wilde Lake which I'm suggesting to have redeveloped. Bryant Square is in a much worse Neighborhood and the Homes have suffered as a result. Wood Creek just has dated homes and it's located in a much better area.
The newly modernized Wood Creek will also feature brick front Homes with new windows, doors, trim, shutters, and siding on the back.
Here's a look at what one will see from the back of Wood Creek. Just like the Lightspun Lane development, the Homes will appear to be brand new without a single demolition crew.
Finally we come to the small Single Family Home Development at High Tor Hill and Phelps Luck Drive. They lack any sort of front windows whether it's from a Courtyard or simply an absence of windows. These Homes, which are mixture of brick and wood siding will get updated siding and additional full length front windows. Though small in size they're located in a great area and even with new siding and windows, they will be a good deal.
That's it for the reinvestment of Long Reach, how much did you expect me to have? After all, I want so much of it to hit the wrecking ball!