UPDATE: Video Link added here.
Last Wednesday, Superintendent Noonan and City Council member Marybeth Connelly welcomed a group of roughly 100 City residents to an overview of how the new high school project will play out. After the overview was compete, citizens moved into a several different breakout sessions, including 21st Century Design, Academic Program, Athletic Program, Arts Program, Community Use, Green Schools/Sustainability and Transportation and Parking. If anyone has comments to share about those break-out sessions they attended or feedback on that meeting please share it here in the comments section.
FACTS offers a few notes on the transportation session.
The hand out stated:
Parking: The current George Mason High School and Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School campus contains 500 parking spaces. Maintain 300 parking spaces for Combined George Mason High School and Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School campus. It is anticipated that all parking will remain surface parking.
Bus Parking: it is anticipated that the bus parking will remain on site at in its current location and the bus office space will remain in the Middle School. The existing Bus Parking will require expansion to 20 buses including plug in block heaters fccps will consider the relocation of the bus parking to an alternative site owned by the city. If relocated Design and Construct Bus Parking for 20 buses and 10 cars on an alternative site include electric for plug-in block heaters and a bus office with two 150 square feet office, onw 700 square foot training classroom and one staff toilet. Work includes storm water and other site improvements necessary to obtain permits.
There were four people in the transportation breakout and it lasted about 15 minutes. It was noted that the current 500 parking spots will drop to 300, assuming the commercial part goes through as planned (6 bldgs. total). One comment was reflected the view that 500 is barely enough now and that this is a train wreck waiting to happen to reduce this number to 300. One of the group leaders, Nancy Henrickson Director of Transportation for FCCPS, talked about access to the Tech/UVA parking lot, as well as the new commercial buildings. Someone later noted in a separate comment that the current plan only works as long as Tech/UVA and the commercial entity allow us to use their lots and so a question would be what is the backup plan if that does not work out.
Another parent talked about bike share and changing the mentality of commuting which was also something that was mentioned at another public meeting. The session leader noted that they may put a traffic light at the entrance on Haycock. Someone mentioned that we now own the school lot but that the road belongs to Fairfax County and they have to approve any changes and what VDOT will allow is still an unknown.
Need more details? Watch the video here.
I am not a fan of community breakout sessions on such projects. Most of these people have wish lists and really are ignirant of the facets of such a public project. What is better is things be solicited in writing to the project manager and then they are listed in categories and a decision is made to act on them or not. Time is wasted with this approach and generally nothing comes from it.
Charles, great suggestion and I agree that break out sessions may limit the right type of discussion because it is not a top down approach to the whole project. Who is the Project Manager on this project anyway? The Superintendent?
Those that will have kids using the high school should be warned that parking is insufficient today and will be more so in the future. Recommend that you ask the school for more parking – not at metro or VA Tech, but on site. Getting in and out of the campus is very difficult and takes a long time with all the traffic so sufficient parking, better traffic patterns and staggered times are necessary to mitigate the traffic mess at peak times.
Additionally, I think it is wishful thinking that high school kids will ride their bike, especially at night like after practices or for night activities. As much as we want to be green, there are safety and practical reasons to be in a car.
I think someone has to remind @Peternoonan that the PPEA process used for previous projects were not all on time and within budget. Start listening at 4:35 on the video link. What is @FCCPS doing to make this project better run?