Residents battle MCPS over controversial bus depot plan

Blair G. Ewing Center. (WJLA photo)

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) – Resistance is growing against a plan to build a new bus depot for hundreds of school buses in Montgomery County. The problem, some say, is that construction crews will have to demolish a functioning school and playground to make way for the new depot.

“This doesn’t make sense from any angle whatsoever,” opponent Jamison Adcock remarked. “Day by day, more and more people are finding out about this. The county council and the county executive, the Board of Education and the superintendent of schools all need to understand how angry they are about this.”

As it stands, Montgomery County Public Schools would vacate its Derwood bus depot by January 2017, moving roughly 370 busses to the Blair G. Ewing Center along Avery Road in Rockville. In turn, all 155 Blair Ewing students would relocate to the former English Manor Elementary School in Aspen Hill, which opponents say is older, smaller and in serious need of repair.

“Demolishing a perfectly good 85,000-square-foot building makes absolutely no sense,” Adcock added. “This site is less than half the size of the current bus depot. You can’t fit 10 pounds of sugar in a 5-pound bag and that’s what the school system is trying to do.”

Others argue fuel tanks could pose environmental concerns to nearby Rock Creek. Increased traffic from hundreds of busses and countless staff vehicles is another serious concern.

However, MCPS contends it's in a tough spot—forced to leave the Derwood property because of a 2006 land sale agreement.

"There aren't a lot of wide, open spaces where we can house the depot and, at this time, the Blair Ewing site is the best option we have. We will work with the county, the City of Rockville and the community on this project, but the clock is ticking and we do not have a lot of options,” MCPS spokesman Dana Tofig remarked.

“So this is sort of a mad scramble to figure out where to put these buses, but this is about the worst idea they could have come up with,” Adcock concluded.

At 2 p.m. Thursday, Adcock and his fellow naysayers will rally on the steps of the Montgomery County Council building in Rockville. The Council’s Education Committee will then hold a public hearing on the matter at 3 p.m.

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