Brickyard Road Soccer Field Project Faces Another Appeal
Opponents of a decision to lease the Brickyard Road school property for soccer fields say they will continue their fight.
The Brickyard Coalition will likely appeal a Maryland State Department of Education decision that supports a plan by Montgomery County to turn an organic farm into soccer fields for kids.
The Maryland State Board of Education on Tuesday sided with Montgomery County Public Schools over the decision to lease the Brickyard Road school site to Montgomery County. The Brickyard Coalition, an umbrella organization made up of civic organizations and private citizens opposing the Brickyard Soccer Field Project, released a statement saying it would fight the decision.
“The [Maryland] State Board of Education’s decision… to affirm the local school board’s decision to lease public land on Brickyard Road to a private, commercial enterprise is not surprising and was expected. It is highly likely the Appellants will appeal the SBOE decision to the Circuit Court,” it said.
In Tuesday’s decision, the state board ruled that Montgomery County BOE acted within its rights in transferring ownership of the lease in March 2011 to Montgomery County.
The Maryland State Department of Education did not return calls by press time.
“We are certainly very pleased that the state board upheld the local board’s decision,” said Dana Tofig, spokesman for MCPS. “The Montgomery County Board of Education’s priority has been—and remains—that this property is available for use as a school [if needed.]”
The state board's decision had been pending since August 2011, when Nick Maravell, owner of Nick's Organic Farm, and dozens of other claimants were approved to appeal the lease of the Brickyard site to Montgomery County.
Maravell had farmed the land for 30 years before the local school board decided in March of 2011 not to renew Maravell's lease and instead lease the land to Montgomery County to develop into soccer fields with Montgomery Soccer, Inc.
The Brickyard Coalition, which represents several appellants in the case, has repeatedly expressed concern with the county's public notification process in the Brickyard issue, and in 2011 the Maryland Open Meetings Law Compliance Board found that county residents were not made sufficiently aware of the proceedings.
Maravell filed suit against the BOE in July 2011 claiming that the Open Meetings Act was violated and that the court should therefore reject the county’s claim on the land. Maravell settled with the BOE out of court before the case was to be heard.