What’s going on with Wilson School, Playfield, and adjacent public areas?
We see a new initiative to arrive at some agreement on the future of the Wilson site. The Arlington County Board has designated the County Planning Commission to begin public meetings. We in NRCA, along with RAFOM and other civic associations have been invited to participate in those meetings. Also we have talked with Walt Tejada (Chair of the County Board) and with County Planning Commission members concerning the discussion/evaluation process.
The county has been negotiating with the next-door site owner (currently Penzance Properties) for many years. We’re not privy to those discussions (to my thinking that’s a problem); however, various sources tell us that that Arlington government expects a renewed firestation, plus some affordable housing ... in exchange for allowing increased building height and concession of development rights over the firestation.
Probably the most important question to us in North Rosslyn is the future of the Wilson School and the associated playing field. For those of you who have not seen it recently, the film “Save Wilson School,” professionally filmed by our own Wayne Westbrook, is a multi-faceted description of how much this site means to us. You can find it on YouTube by searching for Save Wilson School.
And what is the position of the Arlington Public Schools? After all, several years ago Arlington Public Schools was tasked by the County Board to provide a plan for the site. In response, the School Board passed a resolution indicating that the site would best be used for education. In my opinion, this resolution made enormous sense given that Arlington is experiencing rapid school census expansion with substantial school capacity problems. But the School Board has not moved since. In fact, when I recently asked the Superintendent of schools why Wilson could not be used as a school this coming September, he responded that this would require school boundary changes. A strange answer I think. I tend to explain the APS ambivalence as partly due to a lingering desire by the school bureaucracy to sell their part of the Wilson site to pay for construction elsewhere. As one Planning Commission member told us: “there are people involved in this process who walk around with $$ signs in their eyes.’
At any rate, NRCA will be involved in the upcoming public discussions about the site. We’ll keep you informed as we find out what the county and developers have in mind for us (may I remind folks of the scheduled NRCA general meeting on Jan 31), and I assume that NRCA members will be given substantial opportunities to input on the NRCA negotiating stance.
Paul Mulligan, Jennifer Zeien, and I are sharing notes and responsibilities on this, although I’ll be out of the country till late March. As always, volunteers are welcome.
Vice President NRCAThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Paul Derby,
Wayne Westbrook is the excellent videographer responsible for “Save Wilson School.”