When Sarah Williamson spoke to the Anne Arundel County Board of Education Wednesday afternoon she made it clear the Annapolis Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association is concerned with more than just the fate of the playground.
Speaking on behalf of the PTA, Williamson laid out a lengthy list of concerns involving the city’s proposition to build a parking garage along Compromise Street near the school. They all involved the safety and health of the students.
The garage would be built at the same time as an upcoming renovation and expansion of the school.
Wednesday’s board meeting was the first time the two groups officially talked about the possibility. They are now working on a memorandum of understanding to move forward with planning the garage.
But if the PTA had its way, the project wouldn’t progress past this point. And here’s a look at some of the concerns Williamson mapped out during the meeting:
- “The construction of a garage would create what I see as a ‘prison yard’ effect with an even smaller play space confined on at least three, if not four sides, by structures blocking out the sun and breeze.”
She said moving the playground closer to the school would further limit the already small open area where the students play kickball and tag.
- “The negative health effects of car and truck exhaust are widely known, with ozone and particulates from cars increasing the incidence of asthma, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and even susceptibility to the common cold, and hence, student absences.”
She said having a garage so close would increase the students’ exposure by attracting more vehicles to the area, and even talked about the potential impact of cold versus warm catalytic converters.
- “Because of our urban setting, school staff already have to periodically wake sleeping vagrants up and ask them to leave the playground or school grounds, or clean up alcohol bottles or drug paraphernalia from the ground before the children can come outside.”
She said the garage would prevent the play area from being seen from the street and encourage use of the area as a nighttime hangout.
- “It could also hinder students and staff exiting the school property in an emergency.”
“The city’s proposal does nothing to enhance the educational opportunities and learning environment at Annapolis Elementary School, and in fact, we feel it threatens the very same.”