South Lake Elementary School Modernization
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is planning an addition to South Lake Elementary School, 18201 Contour Road, Gaithersburg. This project will go to the Planning Board in early October for review and approval. By way of background, MVF, along with many community members, lobbied to get this school moved up in the county’s CIP. The county council was able to identify additional funds to allow for planning to be moved up in the capital budget. The planning is being finalized in 2021/2022 and according to the MCPS schedule, the modernization could be completed by the start of the 2024 school year. This ambitious schedule is contingent on county CIP construction funding availability, as well as state funding.
Site Design: South Lake Elementary School is located on a 10.2-acre property on the north side of Contour Road. The property is zoned R-200. Construction will involve demolition of a portion of the existing building, which was constructed in 1971. The portion constructed in 2005 will remain and will connect to the new construction, with added accessibility.
The proposed building addition footprint is 63,086 sq. feet, bringing the total square footage to 106,842 sq. feet. The student drop-off loop and bus loop has been located to utilize two of the existing curb cuts along Contour Road. One existing curb cut will be removed to alleviate traffic flow concerns and separate bus traffic from student drop-off and staff parking. The student drop-off queue area has been expanded to increase vehicle capacity.
The bus drop-off receives major improvements with a new capacity for seven busses. It will be separated from the main staff parking area and will result in improved traffic flow. Once all the improvements to the site have been concluded, the final total parking count will be approximately 129 parking spaces, with 126 standard and 6 ADA spaces, as compared to the existing 123 parking spaces. The proposed site layout will provide ample outdoor hardscape and greenspace for student staging during morning arrival and afternoon dismissal.
Building Design: This project is an elementary school addition adjoining the school’s existing 2005 structure. The new building will be two stories at grade adjacent to the existing 1-story structure, plus a new lower level. The school’s main entrance and a community plaza front the site’s primary access from Contour Road. Bus, vehicle and pedestrian entry will occur here, with parking situated around these access points.
The new building will be organized around a central exterior courtyard which provides a compact plan, and provides natural light and views for the school’s circulation and various programmatic spaces. This courtyard, along with a primary interior stair, provide physical and visual connections from the site’s upper plateau to its lower tier, and establishes a direct link from the existing gymnasium to the play fields and new lower level multi-purpose room.
Bloom development Preliminary and Site Plan amendment application
The application requests an overall increase of the residential count from 494 units to a maximum of 514 units. The developer of the former golf course property has always estimated that the final unit count would hover around 500 units in total. There are 13 additional units in Area 2, located east of Watkins Mills Road along what will be the new Stewartown Road extension; 9 additional units in Area 6A, located east of Montgomery Village Avenue, just south of the former golf course; and a reduction of 2 units in Area 3A, located on the west side of Montgomery Village Avenue, just south of Duffer Way.
Planning Board staff does not believe the increased unit count will have noticeable impact on traffic. This is the fourth and final amendment proposed for this project. The previous three have all been approved. These amendments were not unexpected—as the developer fine tunes engineering and better defines the building lots on the property, changes to the plan, including stormwater management facilities, exact road and utility locations and conservation easements, are made as part of the normal process. The full application is available here.