ROCKVILLE — The Carver Educational Services Center and a County site at 1000 Westmore Avenue will not be used for relocating school buses from the Shady Grove Bus Depot.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett announced Thursday that public opposition to those sites being used to house more than 100 buses each influenced his decision to take Carver and Westmore off the table.
“Well, it’s obvious we have a lot of contention about the sites and we need more time to get something before the public that is more acceptable,” said Leggett.
Local residents from the College Gardens and Lincoln Park neighborhoods led the residential opposition to the two sites being considered for relocating.
Some members of the Carver Coalition showed up at the Montgomery County Council meeting Tuesday morning with yellow shirts and signs protesting buses at both locationS.
“You’re kidding me! That is fantastic news!” said Eric Fulton, vice president of the Carver Coalition, upon hearing about Leggett’s decision Thursday.
He later added, “I look forward to his sensible solution to what to do with the bus depot solution. I think that smart growth not just applies to land but the uses that you’re relocating so this is a much more holistic approach.”
According to Leggett, the decision before the County Council was to declare the Jeremiah Park site at Shady Grove as surplus property.
“We have withdrawn that for the time being,” said Leggett.
In the short term, Leggett said the site will still be needed but it’s not a viable long-term solution.
His decision won plaudits from County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1), who first stated his opposition to relocating the buses on Tuesday.
During the meeting, the majority of the council said there is still further need for the Jeremiah Park site at Shady Grove.
“I think the Sword of Damocles has now been lifted from the community,” said Berliner.
Berliner said he thought “the fundamental argument made by the community was unassailable.”
He said the Shady Grove site should eventually be used for a smart growth, residential development but not without a permanent plan for relocating the buses.
“How could you take this off of a site for new residents and take them and move them to a site that affects existing residents? I thought that was a compelling argument,” he said.
By taking the two sites off the table, Berliner said Leggett “acknowledged he’s got more work to do and this and it wasn’t fair to the community.
Council member Tom Hucker (D-5) said he did not hear in advance from the County Executive’s Office about the decision.
Hucker also did not speak during Tuesday’s hearing, saying he already talked with members of the Carver Coalition about it and agreed with their stance.
“I thought everything had been said and I already met with the Carver Coalition. They know and I know that that site is an unwise choice,” he said.
He said Leggett made a “wise” decision in not relocating the buses to Carver or Westmore.
“This is a strange process where they made the decision about Shady Grove and Jeremiah Park as a smart growth initiative without having the outcome determined in advance, and that process to me seems a little but backwards.
“So I’m glad that council made clear that we’re not going to pass a declaration of no further need at this point and those two points don’t serve as a better alternative for the county.”