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Bryn Mawr School buys house near campus in Roland Park

The Bryn Mawr School for Girls is under consideration for expansion, but officials stress — to the relief of area residents — that it won't happen any time soon.

The school purchased a 2-acre house in the 600 block of West Northern Parkway for $1.5 million in January, fueling speculation in the neighborhood that the school was considering new buildings.

Bryn Mawr officials, however, told the Messenger last week, and neighbors in a separate meeting June 18, that there are no imminent plans to expand, and that the homeowners who sold the house to Bryn Mawr are being allowed to continue living there for the foreseeable future.

"We have an agreement with them to live there as long as they want," said Stacy Williams, a school spokeswoman. She would not identify the residents and she said that they want to maintain their privacy.

Williams also said, "We are not planning any construction," and that the school has not raised any money or started a capital campaign for expansion.

"We're not even close," she said.

However, she said the landlocked school would like to expand in the long term by building a regulation-size athletic field for soccer and lacrosse, and by building a STEM facility for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

None of the ideas the school is considering are concrete yet.

"It kind of changes by the day," Williams said.

Williams said that if the school was planning imminent work, "We would be shouting it from the rooftops."

She said the school does not want the neighborhood to get the wrong idea.

"We have a strong interest in being good neighbors," she said.

School officials met privately June 18 with two representatives each from four communities near the campus, including North Roland Park and the Orchards, a subdivision of 122 homes bounded by Kenmore Road, Lake Avenue, North Charles Street and Melrose Avenue.

Robin Reid, president of the Orchards Association, a community group, said she came away "cautiously optimistic" about Bryn Mawr's development plans.

"Everything is in the wishful stage," Reid said. "They were very emphatic that nothing is happening now."

Reid said her association has formed a committee to keep an eye on the school's plans going forward.

"We'll try to be more proactive in meeting with them," she said.

Reid said residents were concerned partly because school officials had not told them earlier of their thinking, and because many longtime residents are still upset over the construction of a Bryn Mawr Middle School building called the North Building in 2006.

She said last week's meeting helped clear the air.

"It was good to finally sit down and talk with them," she said. "We heard them and they heard us."

Williams said the notion of expanding grew out of the school's master plan and that it has gained some impetus as Baltimore City prepares for a roadwork project that includes moving Bryn Mawr's driveway.

The $3.5 million project, which was scheduled to start this week, calls for repaving Roland Avenue and related improvements to Northern Parkway, including traffic-calming.

The project has four components:

• resurfacing Roland Avenue between West Cold Spring Lane and Northern Parkway

• installing a traffic signal on Northern Parkway between Roland and North Charles Street

• modifying and widening the median on Roland in front of Gilman School

• enhancing intersections, including at Roland and Wyndhurst Avenue and at Roland and Cold Spring, with curb bumpouts and other traffic-calming measures, and aesthetically pleasing crosswalks.

Funding is being provided by the federal and Baltimore City governments, as well as Bryn Mawr and Gilman, which are contributing a combined $700,000.

As part of the project, the city plans to install a traffic signal at the entrance to both Bryn Mawr and Gilman schools, opposite each other on Northern Parkway. The city plans to relocate Bryn Mawr's driveway 150 feet to the west, so that Bryn Mawr and Gilman's driveways align, said Matt Mitchell, the project manager for Bryn Mawr.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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