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Local: Education

Potomac residents say soccer fields 'not for us'

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Local,Maryland,Education,Lisa Gartner
The locals call it "horse country" for its riding schools, breeders and stables. Their backyards house tennis courts and sprawling swimming pools. But Potomac residents say building soccer fields in the middle of its upscale River Falls neighborhood is "not for us."

"Our neighborhood is a quiet, pleasurablelike neighborhood -- not a place for a soccer field, and all that would come with it," said Maria Fusco, a River Falls resident. Her backyard bumps up against a 20-acre lot owned by the Montgomery County school board, which voted 5-2 to lease it to the county for $1,500 per year, citing a sparseness of fields in the area. Through a private-public partnership, the county plans to build up to four soccer fields and parking and bathroom facilities.

Currently, the lot hosts organic crops; its neighbors want it to stay that way.

"It feels like this decision is being stuffed down our throats, when what we would rather be eating is organic food," Krista Kurth, another resident, told the school board.

"Few who are here will use this facility, so you will drive tons of kids in and tons of kids out. Who is this for? It is not for us," she said, citing traffic, pollution and "a loss of heritage."

Potomac, where the median family income topped $175,000 in 2007, has been featured as one of the nation's richest towns by CNNMoney.com.

Tory Cowles, whose Horseshoe Lane home abuts the field, said she and her husband were also concerned about the organic crops. "But my greatest concerns have to do with major changes in the quality of our home life," Cowles said. "It means that when I am in the backyard gardening or trying to enjoy a barbecue, there will be a constant bombardment of noise and light from over my back property line. It may even mean that when I am in our house, there will be a constant stream of noise, certainly compared to the quiet that we now enjoy."

Cowles told the school board that she canvassed her neighborhood, and no one wants soccer fields in the community.

The school board also heard from many residents and organic food enthusiasts who said they were frustrated that the school board provided barely any notice before the vote. "There is something that just doesn't feel right about making a decision of this magnitude, giving the community just two days' notice," said dissenting board member Philip Kauffman.

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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