I have heard repeatedly that Montgomery County Council member Rose Crenca "betrayed" her home community with her vote on Silver Spring development. Members of the so-called "traffic coalition" have publicly derided Mrs. Crenca and other members of the council who voted with her. Enough, already. It's time to present a different and, I believe, more accurate depiction of the lady they call "Mother Crenca" in Rockville.
Just over two years ago, the Montgomery County Board of Education made what my community regarded as a very stupid decision affecting our neighborhood elementary school, Oak View Elementary. They chose to "pair" a high-minority program at Oak View with an even higher-minority elementary school, New Hampshire Estates, located one mile away, while leaving in tact a high-majority French language "magnet" program housed in our school. A large group of parents (myself included) appealed the school board's ill-founded decision to the Maryland State Board of Education.
While our case was pending before the State Board of Education in the spring of 1986, Rose Crenca and three other council members took the extraordinary step of voting to deny capital funds for a large expansion of the Oak View building, which ironically had just been completely renovated. The enlargement was needed to implement the school board's "pairing" plan and proved, thanks to Mrs. Crenca and her colleagues, to be its Achilles' heel. A year later, in May 1987, the council rejected unanimously the board's renewed request for funds for the Oak View addition.
Rose Crenca's true colors were displayed when our appeal to the state board was sent back to the state board hearing examiner. Mrs. Crenca gave freely of her time and, more important, put the weight of her position as council member behind our cause. She prepared several affidavits and testified very effectively about the council's role in sidetracking the school board's foolish and unjust plan.
It was through Mrs. Crenca's generous participation in our case against the school board that I had the chance to see for myself what makes her tick. I learned firsthand that Rose Crenca is motivated toward civic activism because of a strong and longstanding commitment to community service and a healthy skepticism of government bodies that all too often take actions without fully understanding the impact on people and families and neighborhoods.
I came to regard Mrs. Crenca as a model public servant, one whose integrity, intelligence and independence are beyond question. Although as vice president of a Silver Spring civic association, I have some misgivings about the prospect of overdevelopment in Silver Spring, my opinion of Mrs. Crenca was not changed by her vote on the contentious Silver Spring development issue, but was only fortified.
FRANK R. LINDH Silver Spring