|The Willston Center.|
In a Dec. 8 letter to County Executive Edward Long, FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza says FCPS “staff and board members, including Sandy Evans [Mason District], have articulated the need for Willston on many occasions over the past two to three years.”
The letter is a follow-up to a Dec. 1 meeting with Long, Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, Mason Supervisor Penny Gross, and other county staff “about our enrollment and capacity challenges in the Mason District and our specific interest in the Willston site to be used as a school in the future,” Garza writes.
The letter also notes that the school board is on record as having asked staff to pursue this at the board’s facilities work session on Jan. 14, 2013.
Garza attached an excerpt from the minutes from that session, stating that, as part of a discussion on five-year enrollment growth, capacity projections, and recommendations for new construction, capacity enhancement, renovation, and infrastructure requirements across FCPS, the board directed the staff to provide additional information, including “specific requests to send to the Board of Supervisors for property/facilities to resolve FCPS overcrowding, such as the Willston property.”
Gross has been resistant to giving the Willston property back to the school board. Last month, Gross told the Annandale Blog that the county has owned the building for 31 years, since FCPS gave it the county in 1983. It had been an elementary school until 1979. If the site is again used for a school, the outdated building would most likely would need to be replaced.
A proposal for a new school is part of a public/private development proposed for Columbia Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads, and Gross prefers that location for a school rather than the Willston site.The Fairfax County Planning Commission endorsed that project, which also includes a 250-unit apartment building Nov. 5.
The Seven Corners Task Force has proposed that the East County office building, under consideration by the county, be located at the Willston site as part of its redevelopment proposals for the area. Gross suggested that some of the nonprofit organizations currently housed in the Willston Center could be relocated to the new building.
Last year, more than 200 local residents signed a petition urging the county to transfer the Willston Center to FCPS for use as a school.