POLITICS

Soccer fields: Brickyard Coalition accuses Leggett of hiding records

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Members of the Brickyard Coalition in Potomac are accusing Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett of hiding information about the county's controversial soccer field plans.

For months, the Brickyard Coalition has criticized Leggett for his plan to turn an organic farm in their neighborhood into soccer fields.

"At every step, the county executive has excluded the community, made negotiations in secret," says Curt Uhre, a member of the Brickyard Coalition.

Leggett has said that the surrounding community can't have the final say.

"It's not left up to the ultimate community that lives there to decide whether or not they want something in their community," Leggett says. "It's a broader community perspective. If you took that view you could never establish anything in Montgomery County, from the ICC to the Purple Line to the jail."

But residents say the process has lacked transparency. The nonprofit that will operate the fields spent tens of thousands of dollars on lobbying related to the project.

And in response to requests from residents for public documents, the county claimed it didn't have records that residents say they know exist. For instance, the record of a spring 2010 meeting between Leggett and the soccer nonprofit.

"It's just unbelievable," Uhre says. "It begins to smell like a cover up. I mean how do so many documents just disappear?"

In a statement, Leggett's spokesman wrote, "The county has fully complied with the MPIA request, turning over ... hundreds of pages. It's not uncommon in MPIA requests for folks to continue to ask for stuff that does not exist, for whatever reasons of their own."

Previously, he has said this community simply doesn't want the fields in their backyard.

But residents have also raised questions about the county's prepayment of the lease on the land. The county insists it does that from time to time.

But residents say it will make it harder for the council to provide oversight, and potentially terminate the lease in the future.

Now the next step is for the proposal to go to the Department of Parks and Planning where they will look at whether the roads can accommodate additional traffic, and whether changing the property from a farm to soccer fields complies with the master plan.

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