Safety, access key factors for new high school site

The Montgomery County School Board voted 5-2 to approve a site for a new east high school.  They chose a 64-acre site owned by ALFA/Colonial Properties right behind the Hampstead development, off Taylor Road.

"This site met our criteria: it had to be safe.  It had to have multiple access points.  It had to have sewer and water," said Barbara Thompson, the system's superintendent.

A land committee appointed by the board narrowed down the number of potential sites from 22 to two.  It carries a price tag of $1.95 million for the land plus an additional million or so in land preparation costs.

The other finalist was a 60 acre site on Old Pike Road was priced at $2.35 million dollars and had higher land costs.  40 additional acres on the site would have been donated to the school system.

Still City Councilman Glen Pruitt, who was on the land committee, preferred a site closer to Pike Road.

"It would have done some things with maybe the kids in Pike Road, we may have done some things differently than put it on the connector road," said Pruitt.  "We're going to have to build a nine million dollar connector road to get to this high school."

Still board members voted overwhelmingly for the ALFA/Colonial site and plan to move forward.

"It also helps that none of the other sites were the right site, and it was somewhat of an easy decision," said Charlotte Meadows, the school board president.

Engineers will now conduct environmental studies on the site, before a contract is signed.  The board also has the option of purchasing 10 additional acres there, if needed.  MPS will also begin to solicit architects for the proposed site.

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