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Projections support need to construct high school; County commissioners must be persuaded


A group of parents intent on building a high school in Westminster by 2002 gained support last night from Westminster City Council, which learned that the latest enrollment projections justify their cause.

Together, they hope to persuade the county commissioners to build the school despite a recommendation from Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission to delay it two years.

"I think the enrollment projections show there is a need for the new Westminster high school," said Councilman Gregory Pecoraro, who met with the activist parents last week with Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan and Westminster Director of Planning Thomas B. Beyard.

Enrollment projections from school officials continue to show that Westminster High School will be overcrowded shortly after the turn of the century. Built for 2,000 students, the school has 2,359.

By 2002, it would have 2,592, and by 2004, it would have 2,707, according to projections released Friday by Kathleen Sanner, director of school support services.

"I'm very hopeful the county will see the reason behind this argument," Pecoraro said. "We'll do everything we can to work with them to keep this on track."

For years, the county and board of education had planned to build a high school in Westminster in 2001 to alleviate crowding at the city's only high school. Westminster High School is one of the largest in the metropolitan area.

But two years ago, parents in South Carroll organized quickly and successfully to persuade the county to build its next school there instead, making their case with enrollment projections that showed additions would leave schools in that region crowded.

At the time, the school board and county agreed to build a high school in Westminster one year later in 2002.

The potential for another delay has the Westminster parents arming for an organized campaign -- following the example set by their counterparts in South Carroll.

In other business, the council voted to deed to Ascension Episcopal Church an alley behind the parish. The act was a formality -- the church contributed money for paving the so-called alley, which is a parking lot used by the church and nearby county offices.

"If one looked at it, they would think it's part of the county parking lot," said Beyard, Westminster City Planner.

The church needs the space and went to the city, he said. "Most of the churches in town have outgrown their space."

The unnamed alley consists of .0943 acre between Court Place Alley and Winters Alley, at the rear of Ascension Episcopal Church.

The alley has not been used by the public for 20 years, and has not been maintained by the city as a public way.

On another matter, the council came to a consensus to let Yowan approach the county about adding drainage pipes on Lucabaugh Mill Road to keep runoff from a millrace close to the city's water supply.

Yowan will ask the county to go back to its original commitment of $110,000 toward the project.

In exchange, the city would add $16,000 from its water fund, and cut the county a break worth another $15,000 to $17,000 on another joint project to bring public sewer service to 19 county homes near Old Manchester Court.

Pub Date: 1/12/99

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