Monday, February 07, 2005

Questions for February 8 SLES meeting with Jim Tokar

A parent wrote the following to MCPS Project Coordinator Tokar:

Dear Mr. Tokar:

Re: Questions for February 8 Seven Locks Meeting

I am the parent of 2 students at the existing Seven Locks Elementary School (SLES). Like other parents, I bought my house and pay my taxes (which are increasing by leaps and bounds) so my children can attend our chosen school, SLES, and in reliance on the existence of the School. Since our lives have been built around this School, which has performed superbly since its establishment, we have questions about its proposed destruction and replacement by a new Kendale School.

1. At the last meeting, in response to my question from the floor, you said that creation of playing fields at the Kendale site would require significant leveling of the presently uneven site and cutting down "thousands" of trees. When I asked how much more this would cost compared to the zero cost of the existing, already cleared and leveled SLES playing fields, you said you were "not here to talk about dollars." As taxpayers, we are paying for the excess cost and are therefore concerned about waste. Would you please answer my question (including the costs of required reforestation at Kendale).

2. I would also like you to tell me: (a) why you said you were not available to "talk about dollars," since dollars are a major feature of any architectural design; (b) whether you declined to discuss dollars on your own initiative or at the direction of someone else; and (c) if at the direction of someone else, who the directing person or persons were.

3. At the last meeting, it was revealed that the playing field(s) at the proposed Kendale site would be smaller than the existing multiple playing fields at SLES, but exact figures on the relative sizes of the fields were not provided. Could you please provided these figures, including the size of the proposed Kendale field(s) as a percentage of the existing SLES fields (i.e. Kendale = X% of the existing SLES fields).

4. The parking lots and asphalts surfaces at SLES are already paid for. What will be the incremental cost of clearing, leveling and paving the equivalent surfaces at the new Kendale site (plus required reforestation), as compared with the zero cost of the existing parking lots and asphalt surfaces at SLES? Also, what will be the total size of the proposed parking lots and asphalt surfaces at Kendale as compared with the existing lots and surfaces at SLES?

5. I am concerned about the waste involved in pursuing plans for Kendale, in the face of massive public opposition to the plans. Please provide a breakdown of the public funds that have been spent on planning, consulting, engineering, architectural and other work for the Kendale proposal. Your breakdown should include direct and indirect expenditures, including expenditures on outside contractors and internal expenditures (including the cost of public personnel).

6. I apologize for the short notice in submitting my questions. I had thought the February 8 meeting was an open meeting for concerned citizens to ask questions, but learned by sheer chance that questions had to be pre-submitted in writing. In this connection, please tell me: (a) if my understanding (that questions must be pre-submitted in writing) is correct; (b) if so, whether, how, and when public notice of this requirement was provided; (c) how citizens unaware of this requirement will have their questions answered; and (d) who directed that this requirement be imposed.

7. Please identify all persons with whom you consult, confer or communicate in connection with answering these questions and describe each such consultation, conference or communication.
8. If you are unable to answer any of these questions, please arrange for them to be answered by those who have responsive information.

9. If you object to answering any of these questions, please state the grounds of your objections and identify all persons involved in the decision to raise objections.

I would appreciate it if you could answer these questions in writing and also orally on the record at the February 8, 2005 meeting. Thank you for your attention.