Friday, January 20, 2012
Potomac Council President Roger Berliner (D-1) looked to the colorful banners in Potomac Presbyterian Church — "peace, love, joy" — before he alerted more than a hundred angry citizens that Isiah "Ike" Leggett and the county would issue its request for proposals to build soccer fields on Brickyard Road the next day.
The next morning, Thursday, Jan. 12, the county publicly issued its specific plans to build soccer fields on the 20-acre Brickyard Road site that Nick Maravell has organically farmed the last 31 years.
The request for proposal calls for a private organization to build at least two FIFA full size soccer fields, parking and related amenities on the Brickyard Road farm.
The deadline for project submissions is March 1 and the county plans to select its applicant for the site this summer. Maravell’s license to farm the land expires Aug. 15.
The County document soliciting proposals encourages plans that include some reduced scale of the farm or related education center, community gardens, playground/tot lot, exercise area and fitness trail, or other "beneficial use.
But by submitting a proposal, "applicants acknowledge that the County reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to impose on the selected applicant any terms, conditions, requirements and specifications that the county deems necessary to fulfill its objectives for the project," according to the request for proposal.
AT THE WEST MONTGOMERY meeting on Jan. 11, residents confronted Berliner with an email that indicated he knew about the proposal in September 2010, six months before the community.
Local residents found out in March 2011 just a few days before the Board of Education voted to turn the land over to the county for soccer fields. Negotiations had been underway for two years, documents show.
Advocate Ginny Barnes asked for the process to be rewound, restarted and redone, with transparency this time around.
"The fact is there was no transparent process and all we have been asking all along is that we back up and rewind the tape and start over with a process that includes the community," Barnes said. "The real issue is a transparent process that we were promised when Mr. Leggett ran for office."
Berliner told Barnes, "I couldn’t agree with you more.
"I did not know that they already committed and weren’t going to do what I asked them to do because they were already in," he said. "I did not know that two years earlier [the County Executive] had written the board of education. And I’m the council representative. So you don’t think I was angry?"
Dennis Kelleher asked Berliner what he would do now.
"Here we are trying to fight the county executive on our own, and what you’re telling us is you don’t have the ability to help us with anything," Kelleher said. "We’d like to know anything, anything that our representative is going to do to help us stop this."
Kelleher read from a September 2010 email from David Dise, director of the county’s Department of General Services. The e-mail said Dise had met with Berliner and discussed the Brickyard plans.
Berliner told the crowd why he didn’t take action between September and March. "I said, ‘Whoa! This is going to cause a problem if you go forward with this. Please explore options and do a traffic analysis before you take this any further.’ That was my expectation. That was why I did not go public."
"I understand you wish I was in a position to do more," Berliner said.
"Or anything," said Kelleher.
"Well, I beg your pardon."
MARAVELL HAS LEASED the property from the School Board for the last 31 years, growing organic, heirloom corn and soybean seed that is free from genetically modified organisms and chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Maravell learned on March 3, 2011 from the schools facilities office that his year-to-year lease would not be renewed.
In December, Montgomery County and Maravell reached a settlement extending Maravell’s license to farm the land until Aug. 15.
Meanwhile, the Brickyard Coalition and others are taking legal action. They claim the decision by the Montgomery County Board of Education to lease the property to the county for soccer fields was done in violation of open meetings law. The State Board of Education is scheduled to address this claim at its next meeting on Jan. 24-25.
County's RFP: Verbatim
"The County reserves the unilateral right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to reject any or all Proposals, which may or may not include a dual use of the property, submitted in response to this RFQ-DP, advertise for new Proposals, or to accept any Proposal deemed to be in the best interest of the County. …
"By submitting a Proposal to this RFQ-DP, applicants acknowledge that the County reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to impose on the selected applicant any terms, conditions, requirements and specifications that the county deems necessary to fulfill its objectives for the project."
Objectives: County's Exact Words
The Applicant selected by the County must meet the conditions listed in Section IV (see Project Description and Conditions below) and address, to the extent reasonably possible, the following objectives:
- Solve the unmet recreation need for high-quality fields in Bethesda and Potomac developed in accordance with the vision of the Master Plan for Youth Soccer.
- Provide design of high-quality fields that can be used by youth soccer organizations throughout the year at affordable rates.
- The County prefers the development of the Property to include at least two FIFA full size soccer fields and an additional community use.
- In recognition that the Property has to this point been the site of an organic farm and that the community has expressed support for a farm or some other community benefit to continue on the Property together with the soccer fields, the County encourages proposals that consider an additional use that may include; some reduced scale of the farm or related education center, community gardens, playground/tot lot, exercise area and fitness trail, or other beneficial use.
- Alleviate community concerns regarding traffic and parking.
- Alleviate community concerns regarding Storm Water Management and overall environmental impact.
- Alleviate community concerns regarding fields operation and management including: service hours, noise, security, and maintenance.
Project Description and Conditions
The Project will consist of private development, construction, maintenance and operation of soccer fields at no cost and expense to the County.
The selected Applicant will be required to execute a License Agreement with the County and pay the County a nominal annual fee in an amount not less than $1,500 per year.
The selected Applicant will be required to design, construct, operate and maintain the Property, soccer fields, other dual use facilities, parking facilities, storm water management facilities, and any other required improvements, in compliance with applicable County, State and Federal laws.
No permanent toilet facilities will be permitted on the Property. The selected Applicant must furnish and maintain accessible portable high standard trailer-type restrooms (no Porta-Johns).
The selected Applicant will be responsible for all trash pickup for the Property.
The selected Applicant will be required to build, at a minimum, two FIFA full (or equivalent) size soccer fields.
Noise and Traffic
A Proposal must include a plan to buffer noise and keep balls within the confines of the fields. The following conditions are imposed on the Project:
- A traffic study must be conducted by a traffic consultant selected by the Applicant and approved by the county during the design phase.
- Artificial turf fields are not permitted to be installed on the Property. Only grass fields.
- No lighting system will be allowed to illuminate the fields.
- No public address system will be allowed.
- No activity will be permitted from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
- No more than five tournaments, playoffs, and championship games are permitted to be played on the property per year.
- Noise impact analyses will be conducted … during the design phase.
- No permanent structures will be allowed.
Timeline for RFP
The County has established the following preliminary schedule for review of the Proposals, but reserves the right to amend this schedule or, at its sole discretion, to cancel the RFQ-DP at any time.
Jan. 10, 2012: RFQ-DP Release
Feb. 6, 2012: Site Tour (Optional)
Feb. 16, 2012: Deadline for Questions
March 1, 2012, 2 p.m.: Proposal Submission Date
April/May 2012: Applicant Interviews
May/June 2012: Negotiations with Applicants
June/July 2012: Selection of Applicant