F.C.-Retained Consultants Query City ‘Stakeholders’ on School Site Options

(Photo: News-Press)
(Photo: News-Press)

Consultants from Cooper Carry and VHB spent the day Monday calling in scores of City of Falls Church so-called “stakeholders,” including educators, City staff personnel, leaders on boards and commissions and some young adults with children coming into the school system to follow up the June 6 well-attended public “visioning meeting” on how the near 40 acres of property, including that currently housing the City’s high and middle schools, annexed into the City as part of last year’s deal to sell the City’s water system to Fairfax County.should be best developed.

The News-Press was welcomed as a participant in one of the sessions that included veteran planning commissioner Ruth Rodgers and a parent of two who will soon be entering the Falls Church school system. Paul Moyer, director of planning of VHB, and Allison Bickers, an architect with Cooper Carry, conducted the session. An earlier session included mostly members of the City Hall staff, including Parks and Rec director Danny Schlitt, Revenue Commissioner Tom Clinton and Planning Department’s Paul Stoddard.

The purpose of the smaller sessions, following the large session attended by over 200 at the Henderson Middle School cafetorium, was to get a more nuanced sense of what the public wants and fears from the development of the site. The consultants have until July 7 to complete a report that will be presented to the Falls Church City Council at its first meeting the new fiscal year (that begins July 1), and that is intended to provide guidance to the Council for its preparation of the “request for proposal” to be sent out far and wide. The Council last month turned down the option of accepting an offer from Clark Construction for a comprehensive development of the site that included a promise that the construction of a new high school for $100 million would be guaranteed in the first phase of development of the site. That was because of the near 40 acres, 10 acres can be dedicated to commercial development and a “highest and best use” of such acreage is deemed highly profitable to both the developer and the City.