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County Staff Recommends Wilson School Site for Temporary Fire Station

by ARLnow.com September 21, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

County staff's temporary fire station site recommendation

This summer’s back-and-forth drama over the location for a temporary fire station in Rosslyn will culminate in a County Board vote this weekend.

Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending that the Board stick with the original plan: to build and operate a temporary fire station on the Wilson School site while Fire Station 10 is torn down and a new permanent fire station is built in its place as part of a private redevelopment.

That plan drew criticism from parents of H-B Woodlawn students, who worried that the temporary station would be built on what would otherwise be a field for the school, which will be moving to a new building on the Wilson School site in 2019.

In addition to concerns about the temporary loss of what little open space there is adjacent to the school, concerns were also raised about students being picked up on busy Wilson Blvd while the temporary station is in operation.

Parent outreach prompted county officials to examine alternative locations, but only two other viable alternatives were identified.

One, Rhodeside Green Park, was unpopular with local residents, who started a petition against it that garnered more than 750 signatures. A second, along Lee Highway near the Rosslyn Holiday Inn, was determined by county staff to be too small and challenging from a construction standpoint.

An online poll posted on the county’s website resulted in 420 votes for the Wilson School site. ƒThe Rhodeside Green Park site received 299 votes and the Lee Highway property 113 votes.

“After extensive analysis and additional community outreach, staff confirms its recommendation that the Wilson School site be selected as the location for the temporary fire station,” says a staff report. “While there is no perfect location, the Wilson School site is recommended.”

More excerpts from the staff report, after the jump.

The Wilson School site is recommended for the following reasons:

  • Of the available options, it best meets the fire response area requirements which are essential to public safety in Rosslyn. It is on the same block as the existing, and future location for Fire Station 10;
  • While this site will delay the delivery of the full playing field on the Wilson School site, the County has worked with Arlington Public Schools to identify options to mitigate some of the impacts for students, including installation of an on-site temporary recreational playfield and use of nearby County parks by Wilson School students. The new Wilson School also includes a gymnasium and unique rooftop spaces that will potentially provide recreational space for students.
  • Is sufficiently sized to accommodate all of the necessary facilities required to support a temporary fire station;
  • Has minimal topographical and utility constraints that would need to be corrected with site work to support a temporary fire station;
  • Is appropriately zoned and designated by the GLUP to support a temporary fire station;
  • The property is owned by the Arlington County School Board in its entirety and is the subject of a License Agreement between the County and the Arlington County School Board to use the site for a temporary fire station;
  • Requires no closures of roads and only minor adjustments to traffic signals;
  • Guarantees the completion of the permanent fire station sooner than if another site is selected for the temporary fire station; and
  • Placement of the temporary fire station in an area already home to a fire station, and an area to be home to a permanent fire station does not alter the expectations of nearby residents. The placement of a fire station on the site has been discussed for an extensive period of time as part of the WRAPS process.

Rhodeside Green Park was also considered as a possible site because of its location within the fire response area, County ownership, and adequate parcel size. However, the following factors were considered by staff to counsel against the siting of a temporary fire station at this location:

  • This public park was identified by the Fort Myer Heights North Plan as a significant existing public open space that deserves additional programming through a community process and the continued use as a public park;
  • Would locate the temporary fire station approximately 30 feet from existing townhouse units;
  • The site is not appropriately zoned or designated by the GLUP to permit use as a temporary fire station;
  • Would require the removal of 36 mature trees;
  • Would require the temporary displacement of a public park which serves all the members of the community, especially the surrounding neighborhood;
  • Would require the relocation of a 12-inch waterline that traverses the site and a 15-inch storm main in the southern portion of the site;
  • May contribute to a reduction in value of the adjacent residential properties; and
  • Introduction of a fire station (even though temporary) would be a change to the neighborhood and expectations of nearby residents.

The Lee Highway property located next to the Rosslyn Holiday Inn was determined not to be a
feasible location for the temporary fire station for the following reasons:

  • The site is too small to accommodate all of the necessary features to support a temporary fire station on this property;
  • Significant site work to bring the property to the elevation of 20th Street N. and N. Nash Street, as well as extensive utility relocations would be necessary;
  • On-street metered public parking spaces would need to be removed to accommodate the temporary fire station;
  • Traffic signals along Lee Highway would have to be retimed, which would exacerbate traffic conditions in an already congested corridor of Rosslyn and may adversely affect emergency response timing;
  • Siting the temporary fire station at this location would complicate access to the Holiday Inn’s parking garage from 20th Street N.; and
  • Introduction of a fire station (even though temporary) would be a change to the neighborhood and expectations of nearby residents.

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