ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today approved the addition of new classrooms and a media center for Ashlawn Elementary School, and a modification of parking requirements to allow off-site parking.
APS worked in tandem with the County to develop the project, which is budgeted for $14.9 million, and is funded by APS capital reserves.
“Ashlawn Elementary School, like so many of our schools, is experiencing overcrowding as more and more families move to Arlington and enroll their children in our public schools,” said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada. “By modifying parking requirements, we can help APS move quickly on projects that will help our schools make way for more students.”
School Board Chair Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez said, “We are grateful for the County’s collaboration and support to help us move forward quickly with this project. The addition will advance our ongoing efforts to ensure we have additional capacity in our schools to serve current and future students.”
The Board voted 3-0-2 (abstained).
The Board took two actions:
The school’s approved parking plan calls for 54 existing and new parking spaces on-site, 30 parking spaces off-site at the DHARA parking lot, and on-street parking that combined would total 110 new parking spaces for staff and visitors. In February the County Board had adopted revisions to the Zoning Ordinance reducing parking requirements for elementary and middle schools, and to allow the County Board to modify these parking requirements.
Transportation Demand Management plan required
As part of the requirements in the Zoning Ordinance, the school must also submit a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan to not only manage traffic and parking, but encourage the use of transit, ridesharing, carsharing, biking, bikesharing and walking.
The TDM strategies include incentivizing and subsidizing staff who walk, bike, carpool and use public transit. Guaranteed transportation will be available to non-drivers in cases of emergency. Additionally, there will be on-going trainings and education on active commuting, and a recognition program for staff who do not drive alone. Parking permits will be required to park at the school and at its off-site lot. TDM measures will also target student travel to school, to reduce private vehicle use and promote walking, biking and buses.
Three-story addition, improvements to existing building, grounds planned
The planned addition to the school includes a three-story building to be placed at the northeast corner of the campus, closest to the sidewalk and street right-of-way off 8th Road North.
The addition will house a new pre-kindergarten, kindergarten classrooms and support facilities and a new media center. The additional space is expected to allow the school’s enrollment to increase from the current 524 students to approximately 684 students.
The interior of the existing building, built in 1956, will be renovated to create larger, reconfigured classrooms and other support facilities. The campus’s field/track area will be reconfigured, along with playground spaces, landscaping and stormwater management facilities. A new vehicle entrance way to North Manchester Street, primarily for pick-up/drop-off of children and some off-street parking will be created.
The renovation and expansion of Ashlawn Elementary School is guided by LEED green building in design and construction, including efficiencies in energy and lighting, water use reduction, construction waste recycling, and indoor air quality; although the project will not be eligible for LEED certification due to the nature of the renovations on an existing site.
As part of the planning process for the renovation and expansion of the school, County and Arlington Public Schools (APS) staff worked jointly to reach out to the community.
County staff coordinated meetings with the Public Facilities Review Committee (PFRC), the County’s Environment and Energy Conservation Commission (E2C2), the Transportation Commission, and the Planning Commission.
APS led the Building Level Planning Committee (BLPC) which involved school staff, teachers, parents and PTA members, representation from community groups, and County staff in the school’s building and planning process. APS also held meetings for immediate neighbors of the school, to ensure they were included in the school planning.
Both the PFRC and the BLPC have representatives from civic associations within the boundaries of the school including Boulevard Manor, Dominion Hills and Bluemont.
The County Board approved revisions to the Zoning Ordinance that established new minimum parking requirements for elementary and middle schools and public facilities and allowed the County Board flexibility in modifying the parking requirements on a site-by-site basis.
The Arlington Public Schools (APS) 2013-22 Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) was adopted by the School Board in June 2012 and approved by the County Board in July 2012. One of the projects listed within this plan included a renovation and addition to Ashlawn Elementary School.
At a joint work session with the School Board held on July 24, 2012, the County Board endorsed a planning process for the Ashlawn project that incorporated the APS process, BLPC and the County’s process for public facilities, PFRC, and required them to work in tandem in designing the addition.
The process included three (3) phases: a conceptual phase, a schematic phase, and a final phase during which a use permit for the project is applied for and reviewed by the County Board.
To read the staff report and learn more about the planned project, visit the County Website. Scroll down to Item # 40 on the Agenda for the May 18, 2013 Regular Board Meeting.
Learn more about Arlington County’s current planning efforts.