Thursday, June 9, 2011

Long Reach Middle School: 40 Years in the Waiting

A Middle School in the Long Reach has been "promised" to its residents as early as the first homes were built in 1971. Funding and construction was delayed for decades and the final nail in the coffin for Long Reach Middle was the usage of is site Long Reach High School. Today, Middle School Students living in Long Reach are all bused elsewhere whether it be to Bonnie Branch, Mayfield Woods, or Owen Brown Middle Schools.
Most of Long Reach, in the case of its assigned Middle School puts the Village in the "Northeast Category" of the planning map rather than "Columbia East". In addition to Mayfeild Woods and Bonnie Branch, the Northeast Middle Schools are Elkridge Landing and Ellicott Mills. All four Middle Schools are experiencing overcrowding as are Middle Schools in the Southeast (Murray Hill and Patuxent Valley.) Most of this growth can attributed to new development along the Route 1 corridor. The over crowded conditions in so many Middle Schools on the County's Eastern Edge warrants a new Middle School in that area. The County has planned for this and its expected opening date is the 2015-2016 School Year. Next comes the painstaking process of finding a suitable site.
The way the Route 1 corridor is configured it would be impossible to build one with a large Student Walker Base in fact all of the Middle Schools in the Northeast except Mayfield Woods have a very small number (if any) Student Walkers. That makes for a lot of buses. Now where in the Northeast can we relieve crowding in existing Schools by building a new School and at the same time drastically cutting down on the number of Students bussed to far away Schools?
This is where my idea of resurrecting Long Reach Middle School comes into play. Long Reach, has a dense population especially in the Locust Park and Phelps Luck Neighborhoods. Kendall Ridge also produces a large number of Middle School Students as well.
If Long Reach were to have a Middle School built between the Village Center and the High School, close to the entire Student Population would walk!
Given the preexisting pathways Columbia has been blessed with, only the eastern edge of Kendall Ridge (Summer Cloud Way) pictured above and the northern edge of Phelps Luck (the area closest to Phelps Luck Elementary) would warrant a bus. Also included in the Long Reach boundary line is the Montgomery Run and Shipley's Grant Neighborhoods. Given their location across Route 108 they will have to be bussed. Both pictured below.
With Mayfield Woods and Bonnie Branch not serving Long Reach anymore there's room for them to provide relief for other crowded Schools.
The Rockburn/Lynwood Square Neighborhood can be redistricted from Elkridge Landing to Bonnie Branch.
The northern section of Jessup can be redistricted from Patuxent Valley to Mayfeild Woods.Hammond Middle would provide relief to Murray Hill.
The rebuilt and modernized Oakland Mills Middle will provide relief to Ellicott Mills. Jeffers Hill will remain at Owen Brown also slated for a rebuild and modernization.
Now that I've provided a district for Long Reach Middle and Neighboring Schools, I guess it's time I focused on the site I've selected for it. It's located on Tamar Drive between Foreland Garth and Old Dobbin Lane. There's a small cemetery on the site whose entrance will have to be re located to the stub of Old Montgomery Road that skirts the site's southern border. The School itself will have a capacity of 662 which is the capacity for all new Howard County Middle Schools and its design will mimic that of Ellicott Mills Middle shown below.
From the time the Village of Long Reach was first built in 1971, residents were promised a Middle School. Lack of funding and the availability of larger sites outside of the Village and the original site now being used as a High School, it's easy to see why 40 years later residents of Long Reach think they will never have a Middle School to call their own. But I think 40 years is long enough to wait. Don't You?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant idea. Have you considered running for HC BoE? They prefer to wait until a situation becomes a problem to act. Take LRHS, for example. The class of 2011 was the most students in LR history when they came in in 07-08, each class has been larger, and the amount of students is projected to increase. Also, Elkridge Landing and Mayfield Woods are taking the hardest hit than Bonnie Branch, not to mention Patuxent Valley has a larger student body and an aging building. That being said, I think, while the positioning of LRMS makes the most sense, HCPSS would be more inclined to place it closer to Elkridge. I'm actually surprised that they picked Mayfield for the middle school site instead Long Reach.