"Potomac is having just as big fit as anyone else" over proposed landfill sites, says Sally Kanchuger, the predient of the West Montgomery County Civic Association.
"It's the sort of thing that really creeps up on you," she added, recalling that she knew as early as last July that Mongomery County was studying tow sites in Potomac for possible landfills - one at approximately the intersection of Persimmon Tree Road and Bradley Boulevard and a smaller area nearby as a short-term emergency site.
"They had the maps showing all these hundreds of little dots," said Kanchuger. "Well, it never occured to us to worry. It wasn't until the Sept. 10 public forum that we worried. There we saw there were 12 sites, and Potomac had two." Inside, Kanchuger said she was screaming, "Help!"
For Lona Piatigorsky the feeling was worse. "I was utterly shocked. A friend of mine had told me and I called the Office of Environmental Planning and found out it was true."
After the September forum, with the scheduled membership meeting of the West Montgomery County Citizens Association still a month away, the word and the action spread from neighbor to neighbor. From the notes gathered at the forum and through the consultants' report on the landfill sites, Piatorgorski and five friends put out 1,500 copies of a fact sheet on the landfill sites. While Lona Piatigorsky drove around Potomac distributing the fact sheet, her children, 5-year-old Anton and 7-year-old Auran, stuffed the fact sheets in the neighborhood mailboxes.
"The word trickled out," Piatigorsky said. She and a friend also started a petition drive. They gathered 1,420 signatures, according to her count, and they presented it last week to William Hussmann, chief administrative officer for the county.
"People are really indignant at the thought they would consider a landfill here," Kanchuger explained. "The idea that those 600 trucks will travel our roads is amazing. As they come off River Road, they will already cross traffic that's bumper to bumper."
"I would presume with the trucks thundering past, you'll get vibrations," said Sister Miriam Kerrigan, principal of the 267-student Connelly School of the Holy Child which she said is 50 feet from Persimmon Tree Road. "We're concerned about what this would mean to the atmosphere of the school."
Kerrigan said truck traffic would be a hazard for students all of whom come to school by car. "If it became so unpleasant that people wouldn't send their kids to school here, we would have to close," she said.
So Kerrigan became active. "I wrote to anyone I could think of. We had a parents meeting on Oct. 6, and I informed parents of the site and had flyers for them to read." She urgued them to write. As for the other sisters at the school, "They're praying a lot, "Kerrigan said.
What is currently underway, according to residents, is an investigation of how ecologically unsound it would be to allow a landfill in the area of the Rock Run stream, which members of preservation leagues want to maintain. "This is one of the purest streams in Montgomery County, "said Ky Ewing, head of the Potomac Valley League.
Most of the residents say they do not know what is next. "I just thought that people didn't know," explained Lona Piatorgorski," and they need to know."