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Mays Chapel residents say they'll bring site fight to Board of Education

Residents from the Mays Chapel area are expected to attend the Tuesday evening meeting of the Baltimore County Board of Education to oppose the plan to build a new elementary school at Mays Chapel Park.

The agenda for the March 6 meeting, set to begin at 7 p.m. at the board headquarters, 6901 Charles St., Towson, includes an item for the board to grant its blessing for the use of the Mays Chapel tract.

Staff of the school is recommending that the site be accepted, saying in agenda documents that, "Based on a preliminary assessment and subject to Maryland State Department of Education approval, the site at Mays Chapel is the most viable in relieving the overcrowding in the Lutherville area."

But organizers of Save Mays Chapel Park Committee said this week that, to date, 2,553 signatures have been collected to oppose the school at the Mays Chapel location.

Members of the group said they plan to attend the meeting to state their opposition.

"The Board of Education is proposing the eradication of the only open space in a high density area that is primarily used for youth sports, walking paths and other necessary and healthy socializing for a community (whose) demographics do not reflect school-aged children," said Whistler Burch, chairman of Save Mays Chapel Park, in a release from the group.

In the organization's release, members said they, "question why the county, in these difficult economic times, would choose to build a $20 million school that would eliminate a park that cost $2.5 million to build and maintain."

The group said its primary concerns are the redistricting of York Road corridor schools; a negative impact from children being uprooted from neighborhood schools and the danger of additional traffic in the area.

The group also contends that "due process" has not been conducted because there has not been community outreach to Mays Chapel, and there has been no request from the superintendent for input from the community.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has favored construction of a new school as soon as possible, and in fact has said the county would match any state funds for the school in the upcoming budget.

But Third District Councilman Todd Huff, who represents Mays Chapel, last month also came out against using the park as a school site.

Huff said he was "caught by complete and total surprise" when he found out that the idea of using the Mays Chapel site for a school was becoming more than an idea.

The proposed 700-seat elementary school in Mays Chapel is being billed as a long-term solution to the York Road corridor's overcrowding issues.

County officials have said that by 2014, when a new school could potentially be completed, projections suggest that eight key schools in the York Road corridor would have a combined student population of 4,370 — or 893 students over state-rated capacity.

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