Fellow North Rosslyn residents,
As many of you are aware from the posting on our North Rosslyn Civic Association (NRCA) website last week, the First Baptist Church of Clarendon Child Development Center (CDC) desires to lease Wilson School for two years while their regular facility is being rebuilt. They have indicated that their space needs require the use of the school building itself and, probably, one row of trailers.
However, several years ago NRCA filed legal papers to have the trailers at Wilson School removed, returning open green space to the community. The issue was put off, but our filing remains resurrectable. Apparently believing it unwise to issue a lease that would involve the trailers while this lawsuit is pending, the Arlington Public Schools (APS) told the CDC that they needed to obtain NRCA support and/or acquiescence before the APS would enter into discussions regarding such a lease.
Last week we received a letter from the CDC Director, Secethia Boardley, explaining why Wilson School is the only viable location to temporarily house them and asking that we support their lease. She indicated that not only would a single row of trailers be sufficient for them, but that they would investigate the possibility of moving that row to the parking lot, thus not getting in the way of our negotiations with APS to make all of the original green space again available to the community.
I forwarded that letter to the NRCA bulletin board requesting review and response to the CDC proposal. On-line poll results show NRCA membership affirming that we do not want to stand in the way of CDC continuing to serve the community during its new building construction, particularly as CDC leadership has promised that during their residency Wilson School would remain available evenings and weekends for use by other community groups, such as the Mongolian School.
I will draft a letter to the CDC and the APS indicating that we support the CDC’s use of Wilson School for two years subject to following specific conditions:
1. Wilson School will remain available evenings and weekends for use by other community groups, and that
2. The second row of trailers will be removed at this time, and that
3. If at all possible, the one remaining row of trailers will be relocated to the parking lot.
The letter will also reiterate that our long term goal remains a permanent primary educational tenant at Wilson with permanent removal of all trailers.
The Childhood Development Center has asked us to accept something less than we had hoped. See below the color coded incoming and my response. Any thoughts? I’ll post a poll shortly based upon any input received.
Incoming of June 10: from Jim Pritchett, for the CDC:
Mark, Secethia Boardley (CDC Principal) and I reviewed this morning what we would have to do to adapt Trailer B to serve Infants and Toddlers. Trailer A is already equipped to serve infants and toddlers. Trailer B is the trailer closest to Quinn Street. Trailer A is the one you would like to see removed.
Only two of the existing classrooms in Trailer B have doors to the exterior. Day Care Licensure standards require that all classrooms serving infants and toddlers up to the age of two years have two means of access and egress, one of which has to be to the outside. To adapt Trailer B we would have to install five more exterior doors. In order to make three of these new doors accessible on the Quinn Street side of the trailer we will have to install a deck/walkway similar to the one which currently runs between the two trailers. I anticipate that this will be a very expensive undertaking for the CDC on top of the expenses we are already incurring. We would have to install a minimum of 123 feet of accessible deck/walkway running along the entire length of the trailer, including railings and a tie in to the existing ramping in back and to the sidewalk in front. Removing Trailer B and moving Trailer A to where Trailer B is now would be even more expensive.
Mark, we want to do everything we can to meet the requirements of the civic association, but at this point in time we are looking at a trailer lease of approximately $96,000 per year and a school lease from APS that is over $300,000 per year. We are actively negotiating as hard as we can to get these numbers down. The CDC currently pays $84,000 a year at the Church. I’m afraid that between the schools, the trailer people, and the civic association requirements that the CDC is being squeezed to the point of not being able to make this move and shutting down. Can you please reconsider your preference based on these issues?
I will be happy to meet you to discuss this in person. I appreciate your help with this!
Outgoing of June 14: from Mark Antell to Jim Pritchett
Jim, You’ve asked and received NRCA community support for the Child Development Center’s move to Wilson for two years.
In our note of endorsement we cited your commitment to remove one of the two remaining rows of trailers at Wilson School, thereby re-creating a small field for our children and young adults. Recently though, you notified me that cost considerations require that you retain the middle row of trailers (rather than the westmost row). This means that the community will have a couple of green strips rather than a small playfield during your occupancy of Wilson. You’ve asked that we nevertheless continue to support your move.
Hard to tell you how disappointing your request is. You’re asking a great deal of us. On the other hand, I can’t ignore the importance of your program to the Arlington community and I can’t deny how much we enjoy seeing children using our school.
I probably could live with two more years of broken and reduced bits of green space at Wilson, IF it were truly necessary for your program to continue.
Accordingly, I ask the following question: APS staff says that refitting the westmost trailers for infants and toddlers would be ‘expensive.’ Adding some decking and maybe some doors to the westmost group of trailers does not feel all that expensive. I mean, the existing decking looks just like something you’d design and build from plans at Home Depot. Do you have a firm dollar estimate of refitting costs? It’s reasonable that we ask you to perform some independent review of the APS staff statements concerning trailer costs. In our experience, APS staff analyses have sometimes been shortsighted. We’ve seen APS staff argue that certain plans for Wilson were absolutely utterly necessary .... and then watch a year later as the APS board congratulated themselves for implementing alternatives.
Finally, I point out that my personal position is not the same thing as the neighborhood position. We’d have to clear your request through NRCA, through RAFOM and also through Colonial Village HOA III. I will start this process quickly.
Mark Antell, President North Rosslyn Civic Association