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?