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NRCA statement to APS board concerning Wilson redevelopment plans
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The Arlington Public School (APS) board is moving forward with their plan to redevelop the Wilson School At our last general meeting we agreed on several points concerning that plan. Below you'll find a statement that will be presented to the APS board at their upcoming open meeting on May 22.
Mark Antell

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The North Rosslyn Civic Association (NRCA) is the home neighborhood for the Wilson School. As neighbors and parents we raise the following points concerning Arlington Public Schools (APS) redevelopment plans for the Wilson Site.

1. Rethinking the Wilson Site.
NRCA heralded with pleasure the recent APS proposal to retain and use the Wilson site rather than selling it. Our second, closer, look at the proposal gives us great concern.

2. The review process seems rushed.
The APS plan for Wilson is not an ordinary project. It will construct the largest middle school in the Arlington system; the first ‘urban school’ in Virginia. This is new. Let’s get it right.
We recommend that APS put-off a decision on this project beyond its regularly scheduled June meeting. Surely this Wilson site redevelopment is a big enough project to warrant adjustment of APS board calendar commitments.

3. A mega-sized project on a mini-lot = inadequate recreation space
The recreation space for the new school would be far less than that available for any standard-size middle school in the Arlington system. How can this be adequate for the very large planned enrollment? It seems to us that many of those issues could be ameliorated if the proposed school were smaller, and if it were designated as a special focus, County-wide voluntary option.
We also have a neighborhood-specific concern about recreation space. Wilson School is the only large recreation space in or near our neighborhood. The current proposal would reduce community recreation space, while increasing demand for the small amount of space remaining. Our families would be left with no walkable play locations.

We note that the APS background graphics for the new Wilson school show a new soccer field in front of the new school. However, the current charge to the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) panel indicates that the field and surround would cover a maximum of 35,000 square feet. That’s the size of a soccer field for 7 year olds. A soccer field for middle school children should be about twice that size.

4. Transportation
Most of the enrollment for this school will come from neighborhoods too distant for students to walk to school. As a result, the site will require transfer points for buses, and transfer and parking points for substantial new automobile traffic. We have not seen any indication of how these transportation needs will be supported.

5. We mourn the probable loss of an historical edifice. In 2009 the APS board denied the Historic Architecture and Landmark Review Board’s suggestion to designate the Wilson school and fields as an historic site. At that time APS promised to coordinate any future plans with historic concerns.
 
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