At the RSCA Annual meeting held on Oct. 30, 2014, Ramzi Awwad, Chief Engineer for Arlington County, gave a presentation on the status and coordination of the various projects planned for the Rock Spring area over the coming months. Attached are the slides for his presentation giving projected construction dates, brief descriptions, and maps for the various projects.
Due to a large projected increase in student population in coming years, Arlington Public Schools (APS) is planning to expand elementary school capacity county-wide by 1800-1900 seats in the near term, including adding a new 600 seat elementary school to the current site of the Williamsburg Middle School (WMS). Funding for this first stage of school expansion will be included in the proposed school bond issue going before the voters in November.
In arriving at their current expansion plans, the School Board and APS staff spent many months examining various sites and about 65 different options located throughout the county. Using a weighted numerical rating system, they analyzed and assigned scores to each option, reduced the number of options by stages, and eventually organized the surviving options into four alternative sets for final consideration.
In late March, 2012, the School Superintendent notified the Rock Spring Civic Association (RSCA), along with other relevant civic associations and PTAs, that the site selection process was underway, that a site in our area was being actively considered, and that he invited our community’s participation in an April “Community Update” meeting. At that meeting RSCA representatives and nearby residents learned that the School Board had just selected its final set of sites, which included the WMS site plus four others -- Ashlawn, ATS, Carlin Springs and McKinley. (Subsequently a small modification was made at Ashlawn, and the overall set was renamed “Option set E”.)
RSCA’s Executive Board immediately created a working group, chaired by Lynn Pollock and composed of both Executive Board members and nearby residents, to examine the proposed new school and work with the School and County Boards on related issues. While acknowledging that APS data demonstrated a clear need for capacity expansion somewhere, and not wishing to adopt a not-in-my-back-yard (NIMBY) stance, the working group also recognized that many residents in close proximity to the proposed new elementary school had serious concerns about adding another school to the WMS site. So the working group prepared and circulated a petition requesting that a full traffic and safety study be conducted and other issues satisfactorily resolved prior to selection of this site for inclusion in the School Board’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). 120 residents in the immediate area around WMS signed the petition, with only two dissents, and the petition was sent the chairs of both the County and School Boards.
The requested traffic study began just before school let out for the summer and is continuing in this fall. Nevertheless -- and despite several working group meetings with high level APS and County officials -- the School Board went ahead and included the WMS site in the School Board’s CIP; and it has indicated that construction of the proposed new elementary school at WMS will begin next year.
Thus by mid-June the School Board had clearly signaled that it was not open to reconsidering its site selections, and the County had indicated it would not intervene in site selections, which the County regards as falling within the purview of the School Board. Under those circumstances the RSCA working group decided, in the best interests of the residents, that it should begin focusing its full attention on working constructively with APS and the County in planning the proposed new school, with the objective of ensuring that the best possible choices are made regarding placement of the facility on the WMS site, traffic flow, safety, aesthetic, environmental, and other impacts on the surrounding community. The community planning process will involve both an APS and a County committee. RSCA has successfully placed two persons on each committee, all four of whom live in the immediate vicinity of WMS, have served on the working group, and will receive guidance from it.
There are three website links that can be useful to residents wishing to monitor development of the new school:
After well over a year of intensive work on the new school's plan by RSCA's work group and many residents, the County Board on September 24, 2013 approved a use permit for the new school, based on the revised plan submitted by APS. The history of the plan's development, the many changes secured in the design, and what still remains to be addressed were covered in a report by Lynn Pollock to the Oct. 2013 RSCA Annual Meeting, a copy of which is attached below.
Residents with concerns or questions about the WMS site selection are encouraged to contact Arlington County School Board members. Questions concerning the planning of the new school design, layout and impact on the neighborhood may be directed to Lynn Pollock, (email@example.com), chair of the RSCA working group.
Two separate projects are currently being designed to beautify and improve Williamsburg Blvd. in the Rock Spring Civic Assoc. area, with a third project being considered to follow at a later stage. Collectively, the three projects would redevelop and enhance Williamsburg Blvd between Kensington St. and Glebe Rd.
Work on the section between Old Dominion Dr. and N. 35th St., has been delayed and is now projected to begin construction in the spring or early summer of 2014. Two public meetings have been held with residents. For details please view the County's webpage and presentation, including project map and illustrative photographs. The project will involve repaving the roadway plus significant improvements to the median, including: installation of curbs, tree planting, and conversion of the median between 33rd and 34th Rds N. to bio-retention rain gardens, i.e. landscaped basins that slow and clean polluted storm water run-0ff. This project, part of the Little Pimmit Run Watershed Retrofit Plan, is projected to begin construction later this year.
Median work on the section between Harrison Street and Edison St. is expected to begin in March, 2014. At RSCA's request, Neighborhood Conservation funding has been earmarked for this project's pedestrian safety and beautification work, including: grass, street trees and bio-retention in the medians from Harrison Street to North Edison Street; new sidewalk at 3401 Harrison Street and 5200 Williamsburg Boulevard to better align the roadway for traffic flow; improved pedestrian markings at the Harrison Street intersection; and reconfiguring the Kensington intersection to increase pedestrian safety via shorter crossing distances and nubs. The County held a neighborhood meeting on Jan. 28, 2014 to present the final design details for the median work. Links below provide a summary of that meeting with the agenda and design drawings presented. (Work on the redevelopment of the Harrison St. and Kensington St. intersections will follow at later dates yet to be determined.)
See the "Williamsburg Blvd./Kensington St. Intersection Redevelopment" folder in the documents section for a discussion and documents related to the debate concerning the design of the of the Williamsburg/Kensington intersection.
YHS is engaged in a major multi-year, multi-phase renovation project continuing through 2013. While the school is not physically located in the Rock Spring Civic Assoc. area, RSCA residents and students are impacted by the construction. Background information and regular updates are available on two websites.
Arlington Public Schools: APS Design & Construction-Yorktown High School ,and
Yorktown Civic Assoc. :http://www.yorktowncivic.com/YorktownCivic.aspx?mdat=WhatsNew
Marymount University’s 26th Street project includes a 52,000-square-foot academic building focused on the sciences and health sciences, a residence hall that will provide suite-style housing for 239 students, and beautiful outdoor gathering spaces, all built above four levels of underground parking. The project, now underway, is projected to be completed in Oct. 2010. For further details and project updates visit Marymount's website at: http://archive.marymount.edu/26thstreetproject/
The County has undertaken a multi-phase project to address flooding problems along Little Pimmit Run. In Phase I, the undersized culvert at Old Dominion Dr was replaced. Phase II, now underway, will replace the culvert under Williamsburg Blvd. and rebuild the channel between Williamsburg Blvd. and Little Falls Rd. A citizens Advisory Group is also meeting with County staff to plan Phase III, which is expected to involve retrofits and other measures to control drainage problems downstream of Old Dominion Dr. Additional details and plans are available at: http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/EnvironmentalServices/cpe/PimmitRunProject.aspx
Residents themselves also can play a role in minimizing storm water run-off from their properties by installing rain gardens and rain barrels. The following links provide useful information on this topic:Reduce Runoff: Slow it Down, Spread it out, Soak it in ;Raingardens at The Arlington Condo; Arlington County Rain Barrels
Storm Water Management
Control of storm water became a high priority for RSCA following the flooding of area homes during the heavy storms of
2001 and 2006 when Little Pimmit Run (LPR) overflowed its banks due to excessive street run-off.
In Phase I of the LPR project the County replaced the undersized culvert under Old Dominion Dr. This past summer, work on Phase II to replace
the culvert under Williamsburg Blvd. and rebuild the creek channel between Williamsburg and Little Falls Rd. was completed, with re-landscaping work now almost finished. After two years of studying problems downstream of Old Dominion Dr. in the Dumbarton area, t
he LPR Advisory Group also
submitted its final report and recommendations, which were accepted
by the County Board and will guide County funding of future improvements in that area.
Meanwhile, the County
planning "retrofits" on public lands, including the Williamsburg Blvd. median, to help absorb more
storm water at the source and thus reduce run-off.
esidents themselves can help address this community-wide problem by undertaking measures on their own properties to reduce storm water run-off both onto their neighbors' properties and into the overloaded storm drainage system -- learn what you can do by viewing the