Why is the County studying the TJ Site?
In June 2014, the Arlington Public Schools (APS) School Board identified the TJ Site as a preferred location for a new elementary school in APS Capital Improvement Plan. Because some of the land parcels are owned by the County, not by APS, the County Board will consider and vote on the use of this site.
In July 2014, the County Board adopted a TJ Working Group Charge and directed the County Manager to bring together community members, APS and County staff for a robust dialogue about the future of this site. The Working Group Charge outlines a five-month study process, site specific goals, evaluation criteria, and expectations of the Working Group.
What is the County’s position on the TJ Site?
The County has not made any decisions on the future use of its parcels in the study area. The County has outlined site-specific goals for the TJ Site and expect Working Group recommendations to align with these goals. Site specific goals are:
- Retain the current wooded eastern end of “TJ Park” as is (area along the western portion of South Irving Street and stretching west along Arlington Blvd)
- Ensure no significant loss of green space and no net loss of recreational programming, including 2 full size rectangular fields and other amenities outlined in the study area description
- Maintain a cohesive park
- Ensure adequate consideration given to neighborhood impacts of traffic and parking
- Enhance safety on existing pedestrian walkways and bikeways
- Ensure that the community center would remain available for use
- Ensure that building massing is compatible with adjacent neighborhood
How is the County collaborating with Arlington Public Schools?
The TJ Site Evaluation will be a collaboration among the County, APS, the TJ Working Group and the Arlington community. The County’s role is to facilitate the study and serve as the primary resource to the Working Group. A County staff project manager and interdepartmental team are working with the Chair to facilitate the process. APS is providing staff and technical resources, including research and analysis associated with the TJ site selection.
What is the TJ Working Group’s role?
The Working Group’s role is to evaluate the site and make a recommendation on whether or not an elementary school should be built on any part of the site. Key expectations of the TJ Working Group are:
- Consider the perspectives of citizens, neighbors, commissions, school, civic and advocacy groups;
- Evaluate consistency of proposal with adopted County policies;
- Work collaboratively with staff and APS to review options considered by APS to meet elementary school needs;
- Provide a final recommendation on use question, and input on recommendations regarding general conditions, and design principles (design, scale, massing, access, etc.) should the site be deemed appropriate for an elementary school;
- Provide strategic guidance on and help to facilitate community engagement during the study;
- Contribute to and review draft and final recommendations and reports;
- Gather feedback from the community and act as liaisons and conduits of information to and from their representative groups throughout the process
What is the community’s role?
During the course of the site evaluation, collaboration with the community will be a high priority and take a number of different forms. Staff will work with the Working Group Chair to develop a broad-based community outreach and engagement plan. To get involved:
- Subscribe to study updates (available on webpage sidebar)
- Attending upcoming meetings
- Reviewing past meeting notes and documents
- Contact us
Working Group meetings are open to the public. Community members are welcome to attend, listen to the discussions and offer comments in writing to the Working Group.
Is the Working Group charged to look at other sites?
No. The TJ Working Group will be evaluating only the TJ Site. Elementary school programming at other schools is outside the scope of this site evaluation process.
How long will the study be?
The study process is anticipated to take five months with a County Board check-in work session on December 2, 2014. Learn more about process milestones.
What is the PFRC process?
The Public Facilities Review Committee (PFRC) was established by the County Board as a mechanism for advisory commissions and committees to have timely input on the development of County and schools projects prior to public hearings. Its mission is to ensure that the highest quality of land use planning, design, transportation planning and other important community aspects are incorporated into civic projects.
The TJ Site Evaluation process may result in one of two conclusions (see the TJ Working Group Charge). If the recommendation is to site a new school at a particular location within the TJ Site, the TJ Working Group will develop general conditions and design principles. The next step forward for APS would be the PFRC process.
Will the study recommend that existing trees and green space on site be protected?
A detailed tree inventory has been completed and will be used as a basis for evaluating the existing conditions and potential impact of a new elementary school on the site. Goals outlined in the Working Group Charge call for the retention of the wooded eastern area of the site.
Will the study recommend that current community functions (recreation fields, tennis courts, park, community center, County Fair, etc.) remain at the TJ Site?
The County is committed to continuing current community programs, such as the County Fair, the community garden and recreational activities at TJ. The County has outlined in their site-specific goals (listed above and in the Working Group Charge) that there be no net loss of recreational programming, including 2 full size rectangular fields and other amenities outlined in the study area description. Additional goals specify that a cohesive park be maintained and that the community center remain available for use.
Is this study part of the Public Land for Public Good initiative?
Public Land for Public Good is a land use study that addresses two of the County’s top priorities: affordable housing and schools. The goal of the 2014 study was to review County-owned land and identify sites where the potential for affordable housing or schools should be studied further.
APS established evaluation criteria to determine which land parcels should be studied to evaluate the potential for school uses. In a May 2014 memo, the TJ Site was identified in the top three sites recommended by APS to the County Manager. Other sites included the Wilson School site and the Career Center/Fenwick site.
Development of recommended sites in the Public Land for Public Good process is not guaranteed. Each site will require significant analysis and community engagement.