Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Marshalee Pebble Creek Connector

Here's something that has always bugged me; the Senior Town Homes that were built at the end of Deborah Jean Drive in Elkridge. For those of you who don't know Deborah Jean Drive is located in the Rockburn section of Elkridge west of I-95 and was built around the Timbers of Troy Golf Course. I'm not against the Senior Town Homes it's just that one has to drive all the way down Deborah Jean Drive and then down an undeveloped access road to get there. Deborah Jean Drive is a very young family oriented Single Family Homes Community and those Senior Town Homes feel very out of place.

On the other hand, Marshalee Drive has Senior Condos located just off of it and wouldn't you know it? It's directly adjacent to Pebble Creek Drive which is what Deborah Jean Drive becomes when it extends into the Senior Community. Like I've said before the Greater Rockburn Community has been built around the Timbers of Troy Golf Course but there's a swath of land in between Pebble Creek Drive and Marshalee Drive that could be made into a road that connects Pebble Creek Drive to Marshalee Drive without disturbing the delicate eco system that is a Golf Course.

If this new Pebble Creek Connector were to be built the connection to Deborah Jean Drive would be closed and all of the undeveloped land at the end of Deborah Jean Drive, Golden Crest Court, Calvert Drive, and Ruxton Drive would then be developed as Single Family Homes which fits its surroundings much better. And that's it! This post is short and sweet. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In Response to my Elkridge Post

I'm writing this post as a response to my recent post regarding Elkridge and its School Construction. This being a hot button issue I'm not surprised that I got so many comments so quickly. I will attempt to the best of my ability to address every issue raised.
The reason I listed past construction projects is because I have read multiple articles and comments to said articles stating that according to Residents Elkridge has historically been denied adequate funding for School Construction. If one looks at the history of School Construction in the past 25 years one will see that almost every year there has been a new School opening, or existing Schools receiving additions, renovations, or modernizations in Elkridge.
I do agree that a few years after ES#41 opens there will be a need to deal with crowding at the Elementary School level once again but there are ways in which to do so. First off in 2019 the County is planning for a 42nd Elementary School in the east whether it's the northeast or southeast depends on how crowded the Schools in each region are and where a site can be obtained.
Secondly there's additional redistricting and renovations. As far as redistricting is concerned I think it can help Deep Run immensely. In addition to what is planned, I think Jessup, located southeast of the I-95 and 175 interchange can be redistricted to Guilford (pictured above), which due to the redistricting of 2012 is now under capacity. This coupled with Deep Run's renovation and 100 seat addition will allow relief of Bellows Spring and ES#41 in 2016.
Also there's Waterloo, If PREK, RECC, and Emotional Disturbances Programs were to leave that School and have them held at say Jeffers Hill which is under capacity then Waterloo will have close to 100 seats to absorb growth and provide relief to neighboring Schools. PREK and RECC alone will be the equivalent of a 100 seat addition.
Waterloo Floor Plan with my proposed renovations
 The Emotional Disturbances classrooms could be renovated to serve as a second art room and a third music room which will up Waterloo's core capacity.
Also enrollment at Rockburn is slated to go down even without the opening of ES#41. Since ES #41 is located in the Rockburn district there will have to be redistricting in Rockburn and that will probably leave Rockburn open to have students from Elkridge or ES#41 redistricted there in future years. All of this can be done prior to 2019, the slated opening of ES#42. 
Location of the undeveloped Oxford Sqaure
In regards to Oxford Square, I don't believe that it will be built very quickly. If you look at how long it has taken Downtown Columbia to get redeveloped or Turf Valley to get built you will see that there are numerous pit falls regarding adequate public facilities other than Schools such as roads, sidewalks, fire stations (something Elkridge needs) that the developers will face before Oxford Square is built in its entirety. Just because the County granted the developer zoning for his requested 1776 homes doesn't mean it will be as easy to actually build them. One reason a lot of the development along Route 1 has gone ahead as quickly as it has is because of the large additions that were built on Elkridge and Bellows Spring in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Once ES#41 has opened and all it does is balance enrollments before Oxford Square is built, the County will have to delay construction on at least some of Oxford Square.
My Preferred MS#20 Site
 I think the MS#20 site in Oxford Square should be banked for an additional Elementary School instead of a Middle School. I do think another Middle School is needed in the Northeast and it should open no later than 2014 but I don't think Oxford Square is the appropriate location given how many Middle Schools already exist and that there are other parts of the northeast that are bused very and will continue to be if MS#20 is built in Oxford Square. I will dedicate an entire post to this. 
Perhaps the only site large enough for a High School in Elkridge
 I do think that the only real failure done by the School System as far as Elkridge is concerned is the fact that they haven't acquired a site for a High School. Right now all that's available is the Troy Hill Park so that will have to do. I agree whole heartily that Elkridge is due for a High School all its own and the opening of Long Reach in 1996 robbed the Community of it because all of Elkridge now takes long bus rides to either Howard or Long Reach. 
I do like that it was mentioned that Western Howard County has fallen way under capacity. I don't think it's a good idea to bus students from Elkridge all the way out there as a solution to Elkridge's crowding. I wrote a post regarding the excess capacity in the west and suggested that three Schools close out there. Clarksville Elementary would close in 2013 and its entire population would go to Dayton Oaks. West Friendship would close that same year and its entire population would go to Bushy Park. Clakrsville Middle would close in 2015 and would be split between Folly Quarter and Lime Kiln. Part of Folly Quarter would then go to Glenwood to balance it all out.
Well I think that I've addressed all issues brought up in yesterday's comments. Keep in mind that I will write another post about things that Elkridge feels it's lacking and yet another one explaining my position on MS#20 and where it should be built.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Elkridge: You're About to get Schooled

It seems like every time I open a local newspaper The Howard County Times, Patch, or The Baltimore Sun I hear residents of Elkridge complaining that they're the County's unwanted step child because of their lack of County and State Funding for School Construction, a new Fire Station, Traffic Lights, an adequate Library and disappearing open space in their increasingly urbanizing Town. It's gotten so bad in the comments field on Patch that perspective Elkridge Residents are saying that they won't move because of how unwelcome current Residents are making them feel. Well Elkridge if you think you've been ignored by the County, think again I'm going to provide a 25 year history of School Construction in Elkridge some of which projects in other parts of the County were deferred in order to give Elkridge its fair shake. Sit tight Elkridge you're about to get Schooled.
1987 Waterloo Elementary undergoes a complete Modernization that includes additional Kindergarten Classrooms, Music & Art Rooms, G&T, Room, Gymnasium, PreK, RECC, and Students with Emotional Disturbances. In the back of the School a new Classroom Addition has been added. This project was so big that Waterloo Elementary Students had to attend the recently closed Waterloo Middle during construction.
1989 Phelps Luck receives an addition, although in Columbia this addition allows for redistricting that provided relief for crowded Schools in Elkridge as well.
1990 On the site of Waterloo Middle Deep Run Elementary Opens. If one looks through School Board meetings in the 1980s it says that the next new School on the County wouldn't be built until some time around 1992.
1991 Mayfield Woods Middle opens. It was said that a replacement Middle School for Waterloo wouldn't open until 1995 but lucky the County  was able to get that project moved up four years for the benefit of Elkridge. As fate would have it Elkridge did get another Middle School in 1995 as well.
1992 Elkridge Elementary opens replacing the older aging School. This new School is located in an area of Elkirdge that can provide for future growth with a larger footprint that features more classrooms and more acreage. This year not only did Elkridge receive another new School but an old School was retired.

1993 Rockburn Elementary opens. Just as the dust settled from the new Elkridge Elementary just a couple of miles west Rockburn opens. Some School systems might not have built two new Elementary Schools in the same area just one year apart from one another. Howard County must have a lot invested in Elkridge.
1995 Elkridge Landing Middle Opens. On the same site as the new Elkridge Elementary the County had purchased enough land for both an Elementary and a Middle School. This proved to be a great decision because the need for a new Middle School was there to serve the growth around the two new Elementary Schools that had opened in the past three years.

1996 Long Reach High Opens. Although located in Columbia, its district was and still is consisted of half of Elkridge which provided relief for Howard High which prior to 1996 was the sole High School that served Elkirdge.
Also in 1996 Ilchester Elementary opens. Though technically in Ellicott City, Ilchester provided relief to both Elkridge and Rockburn Elementarys.
1998 Waterloo and Deep Run both receive classroom additions. Elkridge ES receives a small renovation to create Kindergarten classrooms out of classrooms originally for grades 1-5.

1999 Bonnie Branch Middle is built. It won't open for another two years because it will function as a holding School for Ellicott Mills whose building was being torn down and rebuilt during that time.
It should be noted that during the 1990s that a lot of Schools were built not only in Elkridge but in newer parts of Ellicott City, North Laurel, and Western Howard County. As a result more established areas of the Howard like Columbia and older parts Ellicott City were largely ignored and their School Buildings began to age and decay. These Schools received nothing in School Construction Dollars in the 1990s; Athtolon ES, Bryant Woods, Bushy Park, Centennial Lane, Clarksville ES, Clemens Crossing, Guilford, Laurel Woods, Lisbon, Northfield, Running Brook, Talbott Springs, Thunderhill, and West Friendship.
The County's ignoring Schools was not just done on the Elementary level these Middle and High Schools also received the shaft in the 1990s; Clarksville MS, Ellicott Mills, and Hammond MS. High Schools include Centennial and Glenelg. Almost all of these Schools experienced major population growth in the 1990s despite their districts shrinking by new Schools. It should also be noted that none of these Schools are located in Elkridge.    

2000 Although no construction projects took place it should be noted that Rockburn received relief through redistricting. A part of its district was sent to Waterloo while part of Waterloo was split between Phelps Luck and Jeffers Hill.

2001 Ilchester Elementary receives a classroom addition.
The new Ellicott Mills opens thereby allowing Bonnie Branch to open to its own district. 

2002 Howard begins a muti year modernization project that includes a full renovation to the existing building, partial demolition of dated parts, and new additions. When completed Howard High will be almost unrecognizable.
2003 Bellows Spring Elementary opens providing relief through redistricting all across the northeastern part of Howard County as well as parts of Columbia.

2004 Rockburn receives a large classroom addition.

2005 Howard High's multi year Modernization continues with demolitions in both the western and eastern sides of the building.

2006 Howard High's multi year Modernization is completed.

2007 Rockburn receives a Kindergarten Addition

2008 Deep Run &Ilchester each receive Kindegarten Additions.

2009 Bellows Spring receives a Kindergarten Addition, Elkridge ES receives a major Addition that includes a two story classroom wing, a larger Cafeteria with more windows, renovating Grade 1-5 classrooms into Kindergarten classrooms, renovating a classroom into a Teacher Workroom, an addition of a Parks & Rec Room which allowed for the existing one to be renovated into additional Music & Art rooms as well as a new Entrance canopy. Waterloo also received a top to bottom renovation in 2009.

2011 Bellows Spring receives a major addition that includes a new 2nd Gym, a new Administration Suite, the renovation of the old Admin Suite into new Music & Art Rooms, a 100 seat classroom addition, and a larger Cafeteria.

2012 Elkridge ES receives new HVAC and a partial roof replacement. Burleigh Manor Middle a school in Ellicott City that also opened in 1992 was denied funding for a new roof in order to pay for this project.

2013 ES#41 is slated to open. Residents of Ducketts Lane have complained non stop about the construction traffic in their Neighborhood despite the fact that they will have a new school in less than a year. The original site for ES#41 was supposed to be Oxford Square but Residents retaliated and the County purchased a new site while the Oxford Square site was donated. Keep in mind that this new School was funded in the deepest throws of the recession and that renovations at Longfellow, an addition at Running Brook, and a new roof at Harpers Choice Middle were all deferred in order to pay for this School.  How many Counties in this great nation of ours can say that they're building a brand new School during this tough economic times?

2014 The Oxford Square site won't go to waste because it has been selected for MS#20. I could not disagree more with this site being used for a Middle School (or any School) for a variety of reasons which I will discuss in a dedicated post.

2016 Deep Run will undergo a major renovation/addition.

2018 Elkridge ES will undergo a major renovation.

2019 Mayfield Woods will undergo a major renovation

Now there is one thing missing when it comes to School Construction in Elkridge; A High School located in Elkridge proper. I do agree that a 13th High School is needed and Elkridge is where it should be. However it won't be needed until about 2020. Until then Long Reach will open to have students from the Crowded Howard High redistricted there. The County in the mean time should bank a site in Elkirdge that's large enough for a High School. My preference is within the Troy Hill Park and proposed Tennis Center which other Elkridge Residents appear to support as well.

Now I don't disagree for one minute that Elkridge has grown immensely in the past 25 years and there appears to be no end in sight to it. I also agree that every new School, renovation, addition, and modernization that took place in Elkridge had precedence. Massive growth is going on  all throughout Howard County and Central Maryland as a whole. If one were to venture out of Elkridge and into poorer Counties that have gone through similar growth Elkridge would probably gain some perspective that Howard County is not ignoring Elkridge and that it has gotten its fair shake and then some. You just got schooled Elkridge.