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Amid concern, BCPS withdraws $35 million Loch Raven renovation plan

Baltimore County Public Schools has withdrawn its contentious, $35 million proposal to renovate and reuse Loch Raven Elementary School, its superintendent said Tuesday.

Superintendent Dallas Dance said the county asked the school system to reevaluate the plan to demolish parts of the building, a course of action that was delayed earlier this month by a historical commission concerned about whether preserving a 1949 addition to the building wasn't feasible.

"At the request of our funding authorities, we withdrew our proposal ... so we can ensure that we are maximizing our FY 16 capital dollars," Dance wrote in a text message.

It wasn't clear whether, or to what degree, other factors — such as strong opposition from the Loch Raven Village neighborhood and the concerns voiced by the Landmarks Preservation Commission — gave the county pause. A spokesman for Baltimore County could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

The school system had planned to close Halstead Academy before the 2016-17 school year and bus those students to Loch Raven. The building, which hasn't housed students since 1982, was designated a historical landmark in 2007 and serves as a community recreational center. School system architects proposed a new recreational center to the northeast side of the school.

More than a dozen neighbors at the July 10 historical commission meeting spoke out against the building serving commuter students rather than the neighborhood surrounding it.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission tabled its initial decision and scheduled a special meeting on Tuesday night, which was canceled after the school system's action.

Jed McCormick, one of the neighborhood leaders fighting the school system on the plan, called Tuesday's decision "very good news for us."

"It gives us time to further mobilize and put together a strategy to keep pressing on this issue," he said. The historical commission doesn't meet again until Fall.

"We're ready for the long haul," McCormick said.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

twitter.com/cmcampbell6

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