$1.5 million Settlement Music School project underway in Germantown

 (Courtesy of Settlement Music School)

(Courtesy of Settlement Music School)

Members of the West Central Germantown Neighbors and executives from Settlement Music School have finally reached a consensus on a construction project that has been over a decade in the making.

The $1.5 million, four-phase construction project underway on a portion of the Settlement Music School’s 2.8 acre property on Germantown Avenue will feature a number of aesthetic upgrades to the exterior of the building and entranceways. The project will also include the installation of a rain garden to address a long-term problem with storm water runoff and flooding in the school’s neighbor’s yards.

Settlement Music School Executive Director Helen Eaton said collaboration was key in both the funding and the approval of the project.

“This project is really representing a lot of work from a lot of different entities,” Eaton said. “This has really been a project a long time in the making and it has happened due to a lot of collaborative work.”

According to Settlement Music School spokesman Christopher Spangler, Settlement received funding and support from a number of state, city and private organizations.

Even more vital to the project was the approval of the school’s neighbors, some of them members of WCGN, nearly all of them worried about the impact the project would have on their properties. For several years, neighbors of the Settlement Music School say they have seen significant flooding in their yards due to the positioning of the school’s current parking lot.

The new construction will remove the existing parking lot, installing a rain garden in its place. That’s a change Eaton said will reduce the net storm water drainage down to zero. In addition, Settlement will build a new parking with as many as 94 parking spaces in a vacant lot on the north side of the school’s property.

Chair of the WCGN zoning committee, Luke Smith, said many neighbors were concerned about the loss of several mature trees, inadequate setback for neighbors’ rear yards, and the potential for loitering in the new parking lot, among other issues. An agreement was finally reached after a series of meetings between Settlement and area neighbors.

“It’s been a long and contentious process, but I’m hopeful that this will be a “win-win” for Settlement and the neighbors, allowing Settlement to get the added parking spaces that they want to grow their programs, while restoring some of the greenspace and ameliorating the runoff flooding that neighbors have been experiencing following installation of Settlement’s existing parking lot in the early 2000s,” Smith said.

Eaton believes the project will not only benefit the school’s immediate neighbors, but Germantown as a whole.

“I think it’s really going to draw a lot of attention to Germantown. We feel really lucky to live in this neighborhood; we feel like we’re part of the fabric of Germantown. And we’re hoping that the community will come and see what we have to offer,” Eaton said.

The construction project, which began in June, will be completed by the end of September. Settlement plans to hold a dedication ceremony in October.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the Settlement Music School’s address. NewsWorks regrets the error. 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.