The Arlington School Board reviewed the design and proposed construction contract for the Stratford School building renovation at its meeting last night (March 22).
In a presentation, Arlington Public Schools staff said that the guaranteed maximum price of the renovation and three-story addition — which will prepare the building to host a new neighborhood middle school as the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program moves to Rosslyn — “exceeded previous estimates by several million dollars.” A vote to approve the revised price ceiling is slated for next month.
“Much of the overage was because market escalation has outpaced the rate included in design estimates – consequences of unexpected increases in material costs and subcontractor labor shortages,” the presentation said.
The price ceiling submission was $4.68 million over the target value, according to the presentation, or about 17 percent over. The new project total is approximately $39.15 million.
To keep costs down, APS refined estimated soft costs, underwent selective rebidding, and undertook value engineering and scope reductions. The interior design and suggested roofing materials were modified to find low-to-no-impact ways to cut costs, the document stated.
Over 160 separate items were evaluated to find ways to cut costs for the project while making the smallest impact on teaching, learning, and “community improvements discussed during the public process.”
Other potential savings were found but would require undesirable revisions, including the elimination of an arts and technology suite and new gymnasium bleachers, among other educational amenities deemed necessary.
Most of the funding for the $39 million project will come from school bonds, but $2.3 million will come from the county government under a joint funding agreement.
The project may also be eligible for a Virginia Historic Tax Credit of between $1.5-2 million, which would be used to replenish APS’ capital reserve, according to the presentation. The Stratford School was the first Virginia public school to integrate.
Construction at the site, which is expected to add 310 seats for a total of 1,000 seats, is set to begin in April. Officials are expecting to welcome students for the first day of school in September 2019.
Screenshots via Arlington School Board
The Stratford School building in Cherrydale will expand as it transitions to a middle school.
The County Board unanimously approved a plan Saturday to add 40,000 square feet to the school, which currently houses the H-B Woodlawn secondary program. The addition will include a new library, an auxiliary gym, classrooms, science labs and other teaching spaces and a new student common area.
A design for the 1,000-seat middle school was first approved last year by the County Board.
Also in 2016, the County Board designated the school as a local historic district. In 1959, when Stratford was previously a middle school, it was the first Virginia public school to be integrated.
“This plan ensures that Stratford School building, perhaps Arlington’s most significant local historic designation so far, will be preserved — and will be adapted to serve the changing needs of our growing student population,” County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said. “We have to meet our county’s current needs while remembering and honoring the important role Stratford played in 1959, when it became the first public school in the commonwealth to be integrated.”
Ben Bergen, assistant director of design and construction for schools, said Superintendent Patrick Murphy has formed a group to discuss an “interpretive experience” to recognize the school’s history.
The school’s athletic field will be re-graded and rebuilt. Arlington Public Schools staff agreed to try redesigning the field to meet Ultimate Frisbee requirements, as in current plans it is too short for that sport. H-B Woodlawn currently offers an Ultimate Frisbee program for its students.
Bergen said construction should begin early next year, with the major work being done in the summers of 2018 and 2019. H-B Woodlawn students will stay in the building during construction, while the Stratford program will move into temporary buildings.
School Board chairwoman Nancy Van Doren said once finished, the new Stratford School will be a facility everyone can be proud of.
“We broke so many new boundaries with this, and I think we’re going to end up with a fabulous, fabulous project,” she said.
(Updated at 3 p.m.) Arlington County is moving forward with construction plans for Stratford Park.
The current park has picnic tables, a youth baseball/softball field (which has also been used by adult team sports), two lighted tennis courts, a rectangular field and a lighted basketball court.
The new park, which is in the final design stages and is expected to go out to bid in the first quarter of 2017, will include upgraded fields, courts, landscaping and site furnishings.
Among the planned changes: the new diamond field will be fenced in, with dugouts, batting cages and bleachers added.
While the fence around a soon-to-be-upgraded diamond field in Bluemont Park prompted a neighborhood outcry this fall, since largely resolved by removing portions of the fence, thus far there has been little public protest about the Stratford Park fence.
Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said the field’s primary purpose will be to host organized baseball and softball activities, though other uses will be allowed when the field is not otherwise being used.
“The approved plan does include fence around the diamond field, as the field will primarily be used for diamond sports (permit takes priority),” she told ARLnow.com, via email. “The fence entrances will always be open to allow people access to the area when the field is not in use.”
The parks department sent an email to residents who live near the park last month, updating them on the project’s progress. An excerpt of that email, detailing some of the changes, is below.
Construction of the park upgrades is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2017 and wrap up within the first three months of 2018. The overall design, management and construction budget is $1.7 million.
In early 2015, the County worked with the community to develop a concept plan for the site. The concept plan is a tool to inform the County, APS and the community on how new school access routes and other changes to the school site within the park boundary could impact the plan for park improvements. DPR worked closely with APS in order to coordinate pedestrian accessibility from the park to the school. In addition, a restroom facility will be provided at the school for park users. DPR may make some minor changes to the concept as final costs for the improvements are determined in order to ensure the project remains within budget.
The approved project scope includes replacing and bringing existing features to current standards and adding new amenities to the park. Below is a breakdown of each one.
Existing to be Replaced:
- Tennis Courts
- Basketball Court
- Court Lighting
- Diamond Field
- Players Benches
- Fencing (split rail)
- Stairs and Walkways
- Trash Receptacles
- Trees and Shrubs
New to the Park:
- Drinking Fountain
- Pedestrian Lighting
- Batting Cages
- Outfield Fence
- Retaining Walls
- 50/70 Intermediate (50/70) Diamond Field Layout with Irrigation
- Additional Trash Receptacles and Seating
- Picnic Area
- Storm Water Management Facility
- Additional Landscaping
Stratford School Designated Historic — The Arlington County Board has approved a historic designation for the Stratford School, the current home to the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program and the future home to a new middle school. In 1959, Stratford became the first public school in Virginia to be integrated, with four black seventh graders enrolling, thus marking the beginning of the end of school segregation in the Commonwealth. [Arlington County]
Fox Freed From Fence — A not-so-sly fox had to be freed by an Arlington animal control officer after getting its hind leg stuck in a chain link fence. The fox was uninjured. [Twitter]
Park Expansion, Land Donation Approved — The County Board last night approved the expansion of Benjamin Banneker Park, via the purchase of a 8,487-square-foot lot for $637,500. The Board also accepted the donation of 7,432 square feet of land adjacent to I-66 and a bike trail. Hitt Contracting, Inc. donated the land after figuring out that zoning restrictions prevented the company from developing it. [Arlington County]
Preservationists Worried About Tear-Downs — Local preservationists are worried about plan to tear down a number of older properties in the area of Minor’s Hill and replace them with new homes. However, it appears that the home builders will be able to proceed with their plans, as “Arlington County has no legal authority to delay or stop the demolition.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Long Branch Creek’s First Neighborhood Plan — The Long Branch Creek neighborhood, located near the Glebe Road onramp to I-395, has had its first-ever Neighborhood Conservation Plan approved by the Arlington County Board. The plan will allow the neighborhood to apply for neighborhood improvement projects. It calls for Long Branch Creek to become a “walkable urban village” while “preserving the livability and quiet, diverse character of the neighborhood.” [Arlington County]
Yorktown Student Auditions for Shark Tank — Among those auditioning for the ABC show Shark Tank at a recent casting call at 1776 in Crystal City was a 17-year-old Yorktown High School student, Zanab Farooq, who founded a custom mobile phone case company. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
The Arlington County Board, during an hours-long meeting on Saturday, debated whether to include a controversial driveway feature in the design for the forthcoming Stratford Middle School in Cherrydale.
Though the Arlington School Board approved the school’s design in November, the project’s designers, county staff and some neighbors have come to an impasse on whether that design should include a one-way driveway connecting N. Vacation Lane and Old Dominion Drive.
Proponents of the plan with the driveway — including its designers and some locals — argued the one-way avenue is needed to mitigate traffic in the area and would give the new school a much-needed area for pickup and drop-off. But opponents of the plan said building the driveway would negatively impact the environment by removing 166 trees from the site and would send hundreds of vehicles directly onto Old Dominion Drive, among other concerns.
Among those arguing against building the driveway is Dennis Leach, deputy director of transportation for Arlington County.
“The driveway causes adverse environmental impacts to the site and is not essential for transportation access,” he said.
But Vern Torney, a traffic expert hired by a community organization dubbed the Coalition for a Safe Stratford, said the driveway plan would actually help the environment, albeit in a different way.
“With the driveway, you’ll see that the fuel consumptions seven percent less and the noxious emissions range from one to ten percent less than the without driveway scenario,” argued Torney. “It’s my professional opinion that the with driveway scenario offers an advantage over the alternative.”
Members of Arlington Public Schools’ Building Level Planning Committee (BLPC) also supported the plan to build the driveway, citing reduced risk of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and better accessibility and emergency access.
After hearing hours of concerns and comments from members of the community and other interested parties, the Board’s members made their opinions known.
“It’s clear to me that reasonable people with good motives can still have profound disagreements about an ultimate proposal that’s before you,” said Board member Christian Dorsey. “I am comfortable with the driveway option as being the most prudent to address all of the concerns that the renovation of stratford has at this point.”
Board members John Vihstad and Katie Cristol also agreed that building the driveway was ultimately the right course of action in a complicated decision.
The lone voice of dissent came from Board member Jay Fisette.
“I think we can accomplish and maximize the benefits in the longer term… by not including the driveway,” Fisette said. “The best way to do that is changing the modal split.” But Fisette acknowledged that, “either way, we’re going to have a much better outcome.”
County Board Chair Libby Garvey had the last word on the matter.
“I do believe in the end that building the road will be helpful to the environment, will improve safety and will encourage more students and their families to be walking instead of driving to school,” Garvey said.
In total, the Board spend about 4.5 hours on the discussion, even though it was just a “Request to Advertise” on the “Consent Agenda” for non-controversial items. Most of the time was spent in an impromptu County Board work session; a vote on the matter is expected to take place at a subsequent Board meeting.
The Stratford school building is slated to be renovated after its current primary occupant, the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, moves to the Wilson School in Rosslyn.
Photo via APS/Quinn Evans Architects
Transit Displays Installed in Crystal City — Real time transit data displays are being installed around Crystal City as part of the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway project. The signs display bus arrival data and have text-to-speech capability for the seeing impaired. [Twitter]
Valentines Day Cards for Bus Drivers — Arlington Public Schools students are being encouraged to give their school bus drivers Valentines Day cards this week. [Twitter]
Stratford Anniversary Memories — Participants in the integration of Arlington’s Stratford Junior High School in 1958 recalled memories of the event during an anniversary celebration last week. “None of the four 12-year-olds then realized the national significance of their action,” writes Charlie Clark. “They viewed it like a day job, after which they returned to real friends on the neighborhood playground.” [Falls Church News-Press]
ACFD: Bring Pets Inside — Given this weekend’s bitter cold forecasted temperatures, the Arlington County Fire Department is reminding residents to “make sure to bring our four-legged friends inside.” [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by John Williams
It’s February — Today is the first day of February. As happens every four years, this year February will have an extra leap day — Monday, Feb. 29.
Top Colleges for Class of 2015 — In terms of applications sent, the top three colleges to which Arlington’s high school class of 2015 applied are: 3. University of Virginia, 2. Virginia Commonwealth University and 1. James Madison University. Arlington students sent a total of 321 applications to JMU. [Arlington Magazine]
Tomorrow: Celebrating Stratford’s Integration — On Tuesday evening Arlington County will hold a special event honoring the four African American seventh-graders who integrated Stratford Junior High — the current home of H-B Woodlawn — in 1959. [Twitter, Arlington County]
There Are Still Snow Boulders in Arlington — A number of Arlington residents are frustrated that some sidewalks, streets and parking lots are still obstructed by large piles of snow. [WJLA]
Scott Walker Owes Shirlington Company $60K — The campaign of former GOP presidential candidate (and Wisconsin governor) Scott Walker owes Shirlington-based Lukens Company $59,140 for direct mail, printing and postage services. It’s the fourth-largest debt listed by the campaign in public documents. [Milwaukee Business Journal]
Win: District Taco Makes ‘Cheap Eats’ List — District Taco has made a BuzzFeed list of “21 Delicious D.C. Eats That Won’t Break The Bank.” Amsterdam Falafel, which has a location in Clarendon, is also on the list. [BuzzFeed]
Fireball Spotted Saturday Night — A very bright meteor that streaked across the sky in the Northeastern U.S. Saturday night was captured on a dash cam in the Skyline section of Fairfax County. [Capital Weather Gang]
Photo by Bruce Majors
Boards Cooperate on Stratford History — The Arlington County Board voted yesterday to collaborate with the School Board on a historic designation for the Stratford school, cutting the sometimes meddlesome Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board out of the process to save time and money. Said County Board Chair Mary Hynes: “There is perhaps no building in Arlington more worthy of historic designation than Stratford — both for the seminal events that occurred there in 1959 and the unique architecture of the building.” [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Police: Inmate’s Death Due to Natural Causes — A 53-year-old man who died while being held at the Arlington County jail in October died of natural causes, according to Arlington County Police. Detectives determined that Edward Straughn had an “extensive history of medical issues.” He was originally arrested for being drunk in public. Straughn’s death was the second in-custody death for Arlington in 2015. [Arlington County]
Land Purchase Agreement With Hospital Approved — The Arlington County Board last night voted to approve an option agreement that would allow Virginia Hospital Center to buy 5.5 acres of county-owned property next to its campus for a minimum of $12.5 million. The eventual purchase may include cash and/or a land swap. [Arlington County]
Fundraiser for Local Dad Who Died Suddenly — Nathan Graham, the father of four young sons and a volunteer bishop at the LDS church in Crystal City, died unexpectedly while on a business trip to China. An online fundraiser to help support Graham’s family has raised more than $95,000. [YouCaring]
History Task Force Makes Final Recommendations — Arlington County’s History Task Force has presented its final recommendations to the County Board. The task force says Arlington should devote resources to better preserving Arlington’s history, including via the development of a unified digital archive. [Arlington County]
Transport Panel Approves of I-66 HOT Lanes — The Commonwealth Transportation Board voted yesterday to approve the creation of high occupancy toll lanes on I-66 inside the Beltway. It’s estimated that by 2040, almost twice as many users of eastbound I-66 inside the Beltway will be headed to Arlington compared to those heading to D.C. Meanwhile, two Democratic state lawmakers from Fairfax and Loudoun counties want to force the state to start planning to widen I-66 sooner rather than later. [Washington Post, InsideNova]
County Responds to I-395 HOT Lane Plan — Arlington officials say they hope to reach a “mutually beneficial outcome” to a state proposal to extend the I-395 Express lanes north to the D.C. line. The proposal calls for expanding the HOV lanes from two to three lanes while converting them to high occupancy toll lanes. The County says any proposal should “not undermine Arlington’s successful investment in congestion-reducing transit-oriented development in Pentagon City, Crystal City, or Shirlington.” [Arlington County]
APS Wants Historic Designation for Stratford on Its Terms — Arlington Public Schools says it will pursue a local historic designation for the Stratford building, current home to H-B Woodlawn and a future neighborhood middle school. However, APS wants to cut the Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board out of the process, to ensure the middle school project can move forward without delays. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Marine Corps Treats Students to Holiday Celebration — The Marine Corps treated students at Barcroft Elementary to a special Christmas celebration at Henderson Hall on Monday. Students were greeted by Marines, participated in various holiday-themed arts and crafts and got a chance to talk with Santa himself. [DIVIDS]
WERA Now Broadcasting — As of Monday, Arlington’s own low-power radio station, WERA 96.7 FM, was on the air and broadcasting for the community. The station is still looking for volunteers to help with programming. [Twitter, WERA]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
APS Sweeps Top 16 of Best Elementary School List — The top sixteen schools on a new list of the best public elementary schools in Virginia are all Arlington public schools. Moreover, 19 of the top 20 are Arlington schools. [Niche]
Deal on Historic Designation for Stratford Nears — The Arlington County Board, School Board and NAACP appear close to striking a deal for the historic preservation of the Stratford building, the current home of H-B Woodlawn and a future middle school. Stratford was one of the was the first public school in Virginia to integrate, in 1959. Meanwhile, the Arlington Civic Federation is debating whether the middle school should retain the “Stratford” name, which pays tribute to the plantation where Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was born. [InsideNova]
Group Reaches Cemetery Wreath Goal — The group that places wreaths on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery around the holidays has met its fundraising goal thanks to last-minute donations. Just a few days ago Wreaths Across America was 30,000 wreaths short of its goal of placing wreaths on each of the cemetery’s 230,000 headstones. [WTOP]
Garvey Back in Black at ACDC — Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey has formally been welcomed back into the good graces of the Arlington County Democratic Committee, more than a year after she endorsed Republican-turned-Independent John Vihstadt in his successful bid for County Board. Garvey is up for reelection next year and there are rumors that she will face a Democratic primary challenge. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
School Board Compromise on Stratford History — While opposing efforts to designate the former Stratford Junior High a historic district, the Arlington School Board has adopted a renovation plan that keeps its facade intact and has set aside $250,000 for commemorative artwork and educational displays. Currently the home of the H-B Woodlawn secondary program, the school — which was the first in Virginia to integrate — is slated to become a new neighborhood middle school. [Washington Post]
Arlington Reservist Suing Benghazi Committee — Arlington resident Bradley Podliska is suing his former employer, the House Select Committee on Benghazi, claiming he was wrongly forced out of his job and then was defamed on national TV by the committee’s chair. Podliska, an Air Force reservist, says the committee was too hyper-focused on pinning blame on Hillary Clinton. At the same time, he says he was reprimanded for looking into the post-Benghazi talking points of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice. [Courthouse News Service]
APS to Hold Community Budget Meetings — Arlington Public Schools will be holding three community meetings in December to gather public feedback ahead of the creation of its proposed FY 2017 budget. [Arlington Public Schools]
Arlington’s Secret Santa Program — Arlington County is again organizing a Secret Santa program, which will distribute gifts to more than 1,000 needy individuals in the Arlington community this holiday season. Residents, churches and school groups who’d like to participate are encouraged to donate $25 gift cards to local grocery, drug, and clothing stores. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf