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City Police to Stay at Wood?

Architects unveil feasibility of constructing the new police department at its current John C. Wood site, vs. the proposed plan for construction next to City Hall.

Moseley Architects made a presentation at Tuesday's Fairfax City Council meeting, as council members continued to explore the feasibility of keeping city police headquarters at the John C. Wood Center.

Lead architect Jay Moore presented two plans for constructing a new public safety building on the grounds of the Wood Center instead of the City Hall site, as had been originally planned.

"In a nutshell, it does appear that it’s feasible to move the police station to the John C. Wood site," said Moore.

Both options include dismantling the current building, which houses the police department and the city’s Parks and Recreation department.

The less costly option would be to construct a one-story building, which would be roughly 1,000 square feet. or 3 percent less than the current design.

The other option is to place the current two-story design onto the Wood site instead of the City Hall campus. It was deemed more expensive because an extensive amount of earthwork would be needed to make the grounds support a two-story building.

If the city went ahead with a one-story building, the architects would need four to five months to make another design plan. The city would also need about one month to complete soil samplings.

The architect said the costs of keeping the police station at John C. Wood would equal constructing the police building next to City Hall, if the city approved the one-story option. If the two-story option was approved, the costs would be about $500,000 more, making the total roughly $20.5 million to complete both the public safety building and the City Hall expansion. Besides design costs for the one-story building, additional costs would arise from the logistics of constructing at two separate sites.

"I’m certainly comfortable with either of those plans," said Fairfax City police chief Rick Rappoport, when asked which plan he preferred. "I think we will be good neighbors on either one of these sites."

When pressed further, Rappoport said both sites have advantages. The John C. Wood site is more centrally located, but the City Hall site has more exits.

Council member Joan Cross asked about making an emergency exit near Layton Hall, to which the architect replied that it could be done.

WHILE THE MAJORITY of the council adopted a wait-and-see approach, some members expressed concerns. Council member Jeff Greenfield asked that the parks and recreation department notify staff on the use of the field behind the John C. Wood building, which is currently used for T-ball and soccer practice. If the one-story building is approved, then that open space would be reduced, with 100 feet between the edge of the parking lot and the slope.

Greenfield also wanted to ensure that the parks and recreation department, as well as the classes it sponsors, would find a permanent home. Should construction on the John C. Wood site proceed, the parks and recreation department would move to the Green Acres School. The Green Acres building and parking area would also have to be modified somewhat to accommodate the change, assistant city manager Vivian Baltz said.

Council member Patrice Winter said that when she voted in 2001 to approve the $20 million bond supporting City Hall expansion and construction of a public safety building, it was assumed that both buildings would be on the City Hall site. Winter was concerned that some voters might have approved the bond under that premise.

The council decided to set a public hearing on where best to construct the public safety building. That hearing will take place on Tuesday, June 10, during the regular city council meeting.

The idea of having a public hearing may be useful for citizens, as earlier that evening, Country Club Hills Civic Association president Paul Sullivan asked council to consider having such an event. Although he said the association has not taken a stance on either option, some residents expressed support to keep the police station at John C. Wood, while others had reservations about costs.

"We do believe that there should be some public hearings on this, as it weighs upon our neighborhood," Sullivan said.

Crestmont Homeowners Association secretary Ed Tupay also spoke out, approving the option of keeping the police station at John C. Wood. He also questioned the necessity of a two-story parking garage, and opposed construction of George Mason Boulevard. The Crestmont neighborhood borders the City Hall campus to the south.

"We applaud this effort and think it is a good thing," Turkeley said.

IN ADDITION to talking about the City Hall expansion, the council thanked various citizens, associations and city organizations for the assistance with local activities. After Alexis Nuri Vietello sang "God Bless America" and Miss Poppy Miranda L. Maurer presented the council with poppies, the council thanked various association representatives and citizens for their efforts during a recent city-wide clean-up day. The council also presented several civic associations with neighborhood grant program checks, which will go towards beautifying their neighborhoods or fostering communication between neighbors through association Web sites, newsletters or bulletin boards.

The council also approved two consent agenda: to consider a resolution allowing the Prince William County IDA to fund through an IDB, improvements to Paul VI as part of a larger bond for Catholic Schools in Prince William County; and to consider an award of contract, in the amount of $99,751, with Rox Construction for the construction of Phase I drainage improvements along Oak Place. These improvements include the construction of storm sewer pipe, drainage structures and ditch improvements.