The County Board is set to consider construction of an underground garage topped with a turf field at The Heights building in Rosslyn.
The Heights, at 1601 Wilson Blvd, is the home of two public schools: the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program.
After issues with the original project design for the garage, revisions to the plan ultimately have eased concerns, and county staff recommends the revised use permit be approved at the Arlington County Board meeting this Saturday (July 16), according to a Board report.
But the county’s Planning Commission still isn’t on board with the new plan.
The Arlington Public Schools proposal calls for 61 parking spaces in the underground garage, with a lighted, rectangular, synthetic turf field above. The field is part of an agreement between APS and the county to construct outdoor athletic facilities at the school, according to the Board report.
The previous proposal, submitted to the Board in May, had several issues, mostly concerning the adjacent 18th Street N., which runs parallel to Wilson Blvd. Under the previous design, the street would have been narrowed by eight feet, removing its southern on-street parking lane which could “cause significant operational issues for APS buses,” according to the report.
APS also originally proposed garage access to private vehicles for pickups and drop-offs during school opening and closing each day. The report stated that would pose “a significant operational and safety challenge.”
Additionally, the original proposal would build the turf field to provide access to the first floor of The Heights on the same level. However, that would diminish public and student access and visibility along other sides of the field.
To address those problems, APS would maintain the width of 18th Street N. and keep the parking lane next to H-B Woodlawn, constructing a 5-foot wide, 18-inch tall planter with a seat wall along the length of the garage facade, as well as adding trees on the curbs near the garage and relocating streetlights.
Despite the changes, the Planning Commission still urged the County Board to deny the permit. The commission unanimously agreed that the new proposal failed to conform to the West Rosslyn Area Plan, the Rosslyn Sector Plan and the Arlington County Comprehensive Plan, according to its report.
Specifically, the proposed elevation of the turf field is in conflict with the area plan’s goal of avoiding above-ground or ground level parking, while blocking some pedestrians from viewing The Heights building, which the commission called “a public-facing jewel for both Arlington, the greater D.C. area, and the Commonwealth.”
Although the Transportation Commission voted to recommend approval for the new proposal, it still had doubts about the increased height of the field’s impact on pedestrians on 18th Street N., as well as the plan to build 30 new employee parking spaces when school staff can park at an existing, nearby parking garage instead, according to the commission’s report.
Photo (below) via Google Maps
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