Here are updates on several topics that are of importance to our residents.
First, there are several developments regarding the MacArthur School rebuild project. Last night, February 6th, the School Board selected the "Forest" design concept for the new building. This design locates the new building toward the rear of the school property to take advantage of the wooded area that abuts the property. The architects will now work on more detailed plans for the building and submit a site plan to the City to begin the Development Special Use Permit process. This project is on a tight timeline. The existing school building will be torn down in June, and current MacArthur students will attend classes in the old Patrick Henry School building for the next two years. Once the new MacArthur building is ready for occupancy, scheduled for January 2023, the old Patrick Henry school building will be torn down to create playfields and open space that were part of the design for the new Patrick Henry.
As you may be aware, the option of co-locating other city facilities, specifically affordable housing, was raised very late in the design process for MacArthur. Due to the tight timeline for construction, the City Manager and the School Superintendent agreed to withdraw housing as an option for MacArthur, but such housing will be considered for other school sites that will be redeveloped. During the MacArthur design process, other forms of colocation, such as recreational facilities and before and after school care will be studied and added to the design.
There will be a Community Meeting to present the "Forest" design to interested residents on Wednesday, February 19th from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the MacArthur Library. All are welcome to attend.
Another meeting of interest on the subject of colocation of municipal services is the Joint Facilities Master Plan Open House at TC Williams on Thursday, February 13th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the TC Williams cafeteria. This meeting will focus on the city-wide recommendations from the City-Schools Joint Task Force. It is now city policy that all feasible opportunities for colocation and shared use of publicly owned sites and services will be explored.
Unfortunately, this Joint Facilities meeting conflicts with our monthly SHA board meeting on February 13th at 7:30 p.m. at Immanuel Church on the Hill, 3606 Seminary Road. Our guest speaker will be Jesse Maines of the Transportation and Environmental Services Division. He will present an overview of both the Taylor Run and Strawberry Run stream remediation projects that are scheduled to begin in the next year. These projects are an attempt to reduce contamination into the Chesapeake Bay from streams that have run-off from fertilizers and other sources. These projects will, however, destroy a number of native plant and tree habitats. A recent article on January 26th in the Washington Post Metro section discussed the pros and cons of such remediation in nearby Fairfax County. I would recommend that you read this article before attending the meeting with Mr. Maines on the 13th.
SHA board member Frank Putzu wrote a series of articles in The Alexandria Times over several weeks regarding the decision-making process for the Seminary Road reduction of car travel lanes. Frank devoted countless hours of study going over the 626 pages of documents, and we owe him huge thanks for taking on this very important job for SHA. These articles are the result of the Freedom of Information request that SHA funded regarding the concerns that the Alexandria Fire Department and Inova Alexandria Hospital had expressed regarding the proposed changes to the roadway. The Alexandria Times published a lengthy article verifying the facts obtained from the FOIA. If you have not read these articles, you can find them online at alextimes.com.
City Council member, Amy Jackson, has asked for an update on the Seminary Road project. She sent a series of questions to the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services and answers have been provided by Yon Lambert, the Director of T&ES. Mr. Lambert reports that the changes have had little or no impact on congestion or cut-through traffic in our neighborhoods. The matter is Docket Item 28 for the February 11th City Council Legislative meeting. The link to the materials for the meeting is https://legistar.granicus.com/alexandria/meetings/2020/2/2036_A_City_Council_Legislative_Meeting_20-02-11_Docket.pdf.
Our new Area 3 representative, Bill Rossello, has been appointed to be the Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations’ representative on the Alexandria Mobility Plan Advisory Committee. The Federation had requested that a citizen representing civic associations be appointed to this committee since its composition is overwhelmingly members of other city committees who favor modes of transportation other than motor vehicles. The Alexandria Mobility Plan is an update to the 2008 Transportation Master Plan and will set priorities and create plans to enact those priorities. The AMP will “integrate and advance the goals of major city initiatives including the Environmental Action Plan 2040, Vision Zero, and the Complete Streets Policy and Guidelines. We have recently seen the effects of those initiatives on Seminary Road. Paid consultants from Kimley Horn are directing the work of the committee, along with staff from T&ES. Bill attended his first meeting last week and added a much-needed different perspective to the group discussion. We thank Bill for his willingness to serve.
I hope to see many of you at our SHA meeting on Thursday, February 13th. Thank you for your interest in SHA.
President, Seminary Hill Association