MAYS CHAPEL, Md. - Even though construction of a new elementary school in Baltimore County is well underway, and officials are beginning the process of deciding which children will attend it, opponents are still hoping to stop the project.
Controversy over the new school in the Mays Chapel area has been going on for years. At the ground-breaking earlier this year, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz was being heckled by protestors when he shouted, “Sir let me talk for a second ok?" No it's my job to talk, your job to listen right now. Then I'll listen to you."
The 700-seat elementary school is already rising in the area near Padonia Road, west of I-83.
It used to be called Mays Chapel Park. Whistler Burch lives right across the street.
“Instead of 10 acres of trees I now see a barren wasteland,” he said.
Parents, school officials and an outside consultant met Wednesday night to begin the process of determining the borders of the new school district. The area is surrounded by over-crowded elementary schools.
“I think it was very evident tonight that there are a lot of children in the general vicinity to support and justify the building of this brand new fantastic school,” said Steve Coco, who will be the principal of the new school.
The majority of Mays Chapel residents are elderly or retired -- many of them say there had to be a better place for a new school.
“They ought to add on to those schools and keep their kids in the neighborhood rather than bussing them miles from their home,” Burch said.
Coco said despite the protests he wants to engage his new neighbors to solve problems like getting kids to and from the school.
“I want to continue to reach out and forge partnerships with people because there's going to be so many opportunities that we can benefit each other within the community,” he said.
But opponents like Whistler Burch haven't given up. Burch says a land swap that allowed construction to go forward violates state law -- and he's suing to try and stop the project.
“It was supposed to remain open space,” he said. “It is no longer open space because it will be an elementary school and we all know that the public cannot go onto an elementary school property when school is in session so we have lost it"
There will be a hearing Wedneday regarding Burch’s lawsuit in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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