County Board member John Vihstadt questioned the priorities of the WRAPS planning process for west Rosslyn at the February 21 County Board meeting. He said:
“The [WRAPS] charge also very clearly specified that the desire is to accommodate: a new school, new affordable housing, a new fire station, private redevelopment and green space . . . and we may be faced with the issue ‘something’s got to give’.”
I couldn’t agree more. Consider, for example, that under the plan HB Woodlawn High School, which currently occupies 8.8 acres of space off Vacation Lane in North Arlington will relocate to the 6.6 acres of space in West Rosslyn, which it will SHARE with: an APAH apartment complex, a new fire station and an office building developed by Penzance, as well as what remains of Rosslyn Highlands Park. The notion that all these competing uses can be shoe horned into such a cramped parcel is nothing short of absurd. In fact it illustrates the complete irrationality of Arlington’s current planning process.
John Vihstadt advised opponents of the project who want to preserve the park that since the relocation of HB Woodlawn and the Penzance development are givens and the fire station is needed, something else has to give. But why is it that middle class neighborhoods invariably do the giving? I think that West Rosslyn development should be consistent with current uses: an office building, affordable housing, an historic elementary school, a park, and a fire station.
Not only is a mega-school in West Rosslyn inconsistent with current use, bussing students to/from the already congested site would impede the emergency response time of the rebuilt fire station, which certainly isn’t consistent with either Penzance’ bottom line or the safety of Rosslyn’s residents.
The WRAPS process needs to stop giving into short sighted developers and start listening to Rosslyn community leaders.