To address school capacity issues, Arlington Public Schools is planning to build a number of new schools, including a new 600-seat “choice” elementary school on the site of the existing Kenmore Middle School/Carlin Springs Elementary School campus.
The Citizens’ Association says the new school, slated to be built by 2017, would bring the total number of students attending schools in the Glencarlyn neighborhood to 2,600, including at Kenmore, Carlin Springs and nearby Campbell Elementary School. That, the association says, presents major traffic, parking and open space issues that will degrade the quality of life for residents.
The association is asking for the County Board’s help after not getting a satisfactory response from the School Board.
“We have tried to raise our concerns with the School Board, but our community was not consulted during the planning process, despite our requests that it do so, nor has it been responsive to our questions and concerns,” Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association President Peter Olivere wrote in a letter to the County Board (after the jump). “We need your help.”
Olivere told reporters that Glencarlyn residents do not want to be portrayed as having a “Not-In-My-Backyard” attitude.
“Please, we very much do not want to be categorized as NIMBY; we only want a process which fully addresses the community concerns before a final decision is made, which is the ‘Arlington Way,’” he wrote.
As previously reported, Arlington Public Schools is facing a significant capacity crunch. The school system is expected to reach capacity at the elementary school level by next fall. The new choice school in Glencarlyn is one of five proposed new capacity-generating construction projects throughout the county.
The full letter from the Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association, after the jump.
June 25, 2012
Members of the Board:
The Glencarlyn Citizens’ Association is requesting the assistance of the County Board in addressing significant neighborhood concerns related to the proposed construction of a new choice school in our community. Although the members of the Glencarlyn community generally support the School Board’s efforts to address the capacity needs of the school system, there is strong, broad-based opposition to adding a fourth school within a small geographical area. We have tried to raise our concerns with the School Board, but our community was not consulted during the planning process, despite our requests that it do so, nor has it been responsive to our questions and concerns. We need your help.
As you are aware, the Glencarlyn community is already the site of three Arlington schools: Kenmore Middle School; Carlin Springs Elementary School; and Campbell Elementary School. The School Board’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) includes a total of $46.4 million for the construction of a new choice elementary school at the Kenmore/Carlin Springs location, $4.5 million to come from the November 2012 bond referendum and $41.9 million from 2014 bonds. The addition of that new school will bring the number of students to over 2150 on that site. When Campbell, just one third mile away, is included the total will be 2600, which is 750 more than the high schools. Because three of the schools will be choice schools, they will create a substantially higher level of traffic, particularly during the morning rush hour, than would neighborhood schools.
The four schools are all primarily served by a short segment of Carlin Springs Road, which already operates at well over capacity. In fact, traffic conditions are currently so bad they frequently back up from Arlington Boulevard to Columbia Pike and occasionally disrupt morning programs at the schools with late arrivals. Operating a fourth school in that same small area will compound existing traffic conditions and create new safety issues for many students who walk to school along a busy road on narrow sidewalks next to the roadway.
Parking will be an immense challenge both during and after the schools’ regular operating hours. Demand for parking spaces for recreational use of the athletic fields and afterschool programs, including the Kenmore theaters, often results in use of adjacent residential streets. With the loss of overflow parking on the Kenmore site and more afterschool events to accommodate, there may be a doubling of the demand for parking on neighborhood streets. As one of the oldest communities in Arlington, most Glencarlyn streets are very narrow and many don’t have sidewalks, since they predate county ordinances governing street width and emergency vehicle access. Imposing 2 additional parking demands on neighborhood streets creates new safety concerns and degrades qualify of life for local residents.