YOUR VIEWS | No G.W. Land Swap

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To the editor:

A recent PTA meeting included citizens from the neighborhood, the George Washington Middle School principal, parents and School Board members. A clear majority of parents were opposed, often strongly, to the proposed land swap. Parents and the principal cited the constant use of present recreation fields by physical education classes during the day and youth and adult football and Little League during the evenings and weekends. Problems highlighted were the proposed land tracts poor condition, shape and location.

How would neighboring Leslie Avenue homeowners feel about PE classes all day and lighted football in the evening? Other school fields to the rear of G.W. are also used by T.C. soccer as well as PE classes. Apparently these rear fields will soon be close to the future Main Street extending from Potomac Yard to halfway down the school fields. Oddly, there will be a traffic turn-around just behind the current school parking lot meant to be sort of a subway kiss and ride. Personally, I think having a road dead end in the middle of nowhere makes no sense.

One other suggestion by zoning was to build an underground parking lot and have a field put on top. This would be extremely costly and impossible to supervise that students or other people didnt go into the garage and mess around. Even if it were done, the acreage that the parking lot occupies is not nearly as large as that in the rec fields. Plus, where do buses load and unload? Where does Head Start pick-up and drop-off occur? When G.W. reaches full capacity of 1,440 students in the next few years, it will have an average of 180 students out at PE each class period. Good, safe playing fields will be a necessity.

Another strong concern was how the building and school could work in such proximity. Expensive residences wont want students or commuters short-cutting across their property and are likely to fence it off. What about trash storage and dumpsters aggravating the rodent issues? What about our principal having to take complaining calls from future businesses that students are noisy and annoying? Traffic entering and exiting the property will create a pedestrian hazard and make congestion worse.

Neighborhood sentiment was mixed. Del Ray residents were interested in the possibility of having a park near to their houses, possibly including sports fields and community garden. Rosemont citizens were worried about safety and congestion.

Whether or not they have become familiar with the situation, 950 students, their families and many sports players will lose in this deal. I can see why the developers would like this swap, although I am told that the developers arent that favorable to it. So, if that is correct, the developers will be offering little in exchange for the land swap. Many participants did not want money or time spent on planning for this land swap that is clearly not good for G.W., especially in tight budget times.

Pam Smith
Alexandria

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