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Council debates B-CC expansion plan Featured

ROCKVILLE – While the proposed Downtown Bethesda Sector Plan would expand density in Bethesda, one thing it could also expand is Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

On Monday the County Council Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee discussed buying or leasing property next to B-CC as way to find more space for the school’s increasing demands.

The council discussed several options from buying the office building located on 4401-4421 East West Highway next to B-CC in order to expand the school’s athletic fields and to leasing room from nearby office buildings to compensate for overcrowding.

“B-CC High School is the single hardest issue to for us to tackle in this,” said Council President Roger Berliner (D-1), who represents Bethesda. “Everything else seems to have a plausible answer, we don’t know what precisely what the answer is but B-CC High School – it’s a problem.”

B-CC is the smallest high school campus in the County, and its enrollment increased by more than 200 students from 2007 to 2015.

The proposed Downtown Bethesda Sector plan would allow for increased density and increasing Bethesda’s population as the County tries to steward future development around public transportation. County planners believe Bethesda is one of several key places for growth in the County given its accessibility to the Metro.

“Would it not be wise to provide opportunities for the school’s footprint to expand from the standpoint of playing field and recreational space?” said Council member George Leventhal (D-at large).

Last year, the County renovated B-CC’s football field as part of its $30 million renovation plan to modernize the school. With limited space, the members of the County Council are considering adjacent land as possible space for fields, classroom and parking for B-CC.

Andrew Zuckerman, chief operating officer for Montgomery County Public Schools, said it is too early for him to determine whether the property next to B-CC High School is a potential site for expansion.

“It’s a bit premature to say ‘yes or no’ today, but I absolutely think this is something – we need to explore it – we need to leave all options open,” said Zuckerman of the proposal to expand B-CC High School via the adjacent property.

B-CC is located on East West Highway in downtown Bethesda, blocks away from Wisconsin Avenue – the busy corridor where much of Bethesda’s economy centers around – and a residential neighborhood meaning there is no obvious place for the school to expand.

Council member Nancy Floreen (D-at large) suggested possibly using the office buildings next to BCC High School as possible destinations for classroom space and sharing the parking lot with Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and School next door.

“If you started thinking creatively about your neighbors really, generically, and how joint solutions might be arrived at,” Floreen said.

@neal_earley

 

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