Letter to the Editor, Falls Church News Press.

FEBRUARY 12, 2015

The letter below was published in the Falls Church News Press and on their Web site as one of three letters under the title of the first letter, “Absolutely No Need for New High School in F.C.

 Misguided Revitalization in Mason District


The quality of life in Mason District is threatened by misguided redevelopment in its two revitalization areas. In her “A Penny for Your Thoughts” column in the January 29 Falls Church News-Press, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross called these areas a blessing, and so they may be for her. But what about the community?

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has given itself the power to amend the Comprehensive Plan to allow virtually any land use in a revitalization area if, in their view, it would advance “revitalization goals.” Gross offers the amendment for the SE Quadrant in the Bailey’s Crossroads revitalization area as an example of the benefits of the Board’s power. The amendment allows the development of a high-rise elementary school on a two-acre site on the curb of Columbia Pike in a busy commercial district with no green space for outdoor activities. Recreation would be on the roof of the garage. Intense citizen opposition to the amendment in the January 13 Board hearing argued that the site is not suitable for a school. In particular, the Comprehensive Plan states that schools should not be located in commercial areas.

But the amendment serves Gross’s purpose. The School Board wants to build a child-friendly school with green space on the five-acre Willston School site in a residential district opposite Seven Corners. But Gross wants that site for a new $125M county office building. She recommends that she keep Willston and the children use the Columbia Pike school site provided by the plan amendment. This is not the first time that the interests of our children have been sacrificed for Gross’s agenda. For years, children at Bailey’s Elementary sat in 19 trailers while the School Board asked for the Willston site. Last fall, relief of sorts was provided by opening Bailey’s Upper Elementary in a converted office building on blacktop in a commercial district on the other side of Seven Corners. The school has no gym, no auditorium, and no green space.

Such are the consequences of misguided revitalization for the community. It’s Gross mismanagement.

Clyde Miller

Falls Church