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Cold Spring Construction Design Concerns Parents

The school's construction plans include a new gym and storm water management system.

Montgomery County Public Schools representatives and engineers said they will reconsider the design for a new structure to collect storm water runoff at Cold Spring Elementary School, after community members expressed concern about the possible loss of a sledding hill on the property.

The design presented at a meeting Tuesday would place tiered landscaping, new stairs and a handicapped accessible ramp where a popular sledding hill now stands at the school.

"I'd hate to see the sledding hills eliminated for the sake of a lack of better ideas for how to deal with the storm water," said Cold Spring parent and Potomac resident Shawn Pastor.

State laws adopted in 2007 require the installation of storm water management systems to accompany the new gym at Cold Spring elementary, which is slated to begin construction in July 2011, said Craig Shuman, project manager for Civil Site Design for Montgomery County Public Schools.

Tuesday's meeting allowed county representatives to explain the storm water management regulations and the proposed design for the new structure to the community.

The design includes three tiers with landscaping dug into the hill around parts of the school's parking lot. The tiers will absorb storm water runoff and will prevent harmful chemicals that come off the parking lot from traveling to another waterway, Shuman said.

Separating two sections of the tiers will be stairs and a handicapped accessible ramp that lead from the school to the fields located past the parking lot. The designs for the storm water management system have not been submitted to the county.

The tiers, which will have two 42-inch drops followed by an 18-inch drop, will meet state regulations for storm water management.

The biggest concern of the parents and community members in attendance, though, was whether the hill where children sled in the winter could be retained.

"Sledding is something engrained in the community where 100 children gather every snowstorm," Pastor said. "It really adds power and a feeling of community."

The public input about the storm water management system will be considered in redesigns, Shuman said.

"Input about the sledding is invaluable to us because we don't want to put something up and then realize that kids don't have anywhere to sled," Shuman said. "We need a design that works for the school and the community."

Principal Martin Barnett said he was pleased with the input from the community and the progress of the additions to the school. The gym and the storm water management system will hopefully begin construction by July 1, Barnett said.

"We are moving full speed ahead to get the projects done," Barnett said.

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