Updated: County Council Members Urge Resolution to 'Anxiety' of Brickyard Controversy

Five council members wrote to the county executive and school board requesting the Brickyard issue be re-examined.

This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. to reflect comments from the Montgomery County executive office.

In an attempt to help mediate a contentious community fight over soccer fields, organic farms and public process, several members of the Montgomery County Council have asked that negotiations be reopened over a piece of land in the heart of Potomac.

For nearly two years, the Brickyard Road Middle School site has been embroiled in a heated battle between the county's mission to turn the site into youth soccer fields and local activists who wish to save a 32-year-old organic farm.

Plans for the land, home to Nick's Organic Farm and the Brickyard Road Educational Farm, are on hold due to a circuit court judge's decision to place a stay on the land as legal fights play out.

Members of the Montgomery County Council last week formally stepped in, sending a letter to County Executive Isiah Leggett and the Montgomery County school board.

Signed by Council President Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) and Council members Phil Andrews (D-Dist. 3), Marc Elrich (D-At large), Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) and Hans Riemer (D-At large), the letter re-asserts three possible alternatives to a plan for MSI soccer fields, two of which include moving the fields to a different location. Another option ask stakeholders on both sides of the issue to work out a dual-use of the land with both an organic farm and soccer fields.

The letter states:

We deeply regret the continued anxiety that this issue has caused our constituents and the uncertainty to Montgomery Soccer, Inc, which successfully applied to the [Request For Proposal.] The court’s “stay” very clearly indicates that none of the stakeholders are guaranteed a victory in this contest. Bringing the best of Montgomery County to bear, we believe it may be possible to find common ground and put this matter behind us. Accordingly, we urge you to seriously consider using this “time out” to consider fresh approaches and a transparent process to meeting each of the legitimate needs of our community that has been raised by this divisive debate.

The Montgomery County school board has received the letter and is reviewing it, according to Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Dana Tofig.

County spokesperson Patrick Lacefield says the letter has not changed the county executive's position on Brickyard.

"There is no change in Montgomery County's position," he wrote Patch in an email. "Public land should be used for public purposes, as per the Potomac Master Plan approved unanimously by the county council. We are appealing the judge's stay and look forward to the project moving forward."

See the attached PDF for a full copy of the letter.

What do you think of the council's decision to step in on the Brickyard fight?

KG Cook November 13, 2012 at 03:38 PM
very happy with this development!
Fred Foo November 13, 2012 at 04:31 PM
This is exactly what the Council should be doing - addressing failings of the Executive.
C. Wilson November 14, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Leggett should be removed.
NatureLover November 17, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Someone needs to point out to County spokesperson Patrick Lacefield that MSI is not a 'public' organization.
Le November 20, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Leggett does seem hostile and holding on only to the decision to not lose his ground. The discussion should be reopened and allow county members to vote on use of the land. If one of the projects in dual use of the land was incorporationg some type of farm program/nature, why not let the educational portion stay. The site Legget suggests is for public use, but the original public use was for schools. Something most people will use. Soccer fields are important and activities for children are as well, but it's the greater need of the community in deciding, not Leggett's ego.


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