At its Tuesday night meeting, the Fairfax City Council decided to build the public safety building at the City of Fairfax Police's current home at the John C. Wood Complex, 3130 Old Lee Highway.
The decision, which was made during the council's work session, concludes a six-month debate on where the public safety building would go. The city originally planned for the new police station to be built next to City Hall, but several citizens and the neighboring Crestmont community raised concerns about traffic, noise and the size of the projects at City Hall.
The expansion and renovation of City Hall will continue as planned. Both projects were approved 2-to-1 by Fairfax citizens in a $20 million, 2001 bond referendum.
"I think the one thing we can all agree is that we don't want to keep churning our wheels," said Fairfax mayor Rob Lederer before the council voted on the issue.
Yet the decision to keep Fairfax City police at its present location didn't come unanimously. Council members Joan Cross, Scott Silverthorne, Gail Lyon and Patrice Winter voted for the police station to remain at John C. Wood, while council members Jeff Greenfield and Gary Rasmussen voted for the police station to be built at another location.
"If we build the police there, we end up with a crowded site if we wanted to build something down the road," said Rasmussen of John C. Wood. He recalled earlier discussions that the city had on housing some community activities at the new police station.
The City Council split its vote because citizens had also raised the possibility of turning John C. Wood into a community center. During a June public hearing, several citizens had argued that the building's proximity to Van Dyck Park and the skate park, as well as its purpose as home for the city's Parks and Recreation Department, made John C. Wood an attractive location for a community center.
With that possibility in mind, the City Council in July directed city staff to work with council members Greenfield and Rasmussen to examine other sites for the police station.
When the council met on Tuesday, they were presented with their findings. Three potential properties had met two criteria of land acquisition not exceeding $2.5 million, and of the site having a minimum of three acres. The council agreed then that out of the three options, the former Sylvan Pools site at 10090 Lee Highway was the most feasible possibility.
But even that option had complications, as council members learned that the $2 million needed to buy the site would exceed the amount set aside for the project. Also, Fairfax City police chief Rick Rappoport questioned the acreage size of the site, as well as the need to create an ingress and egress.
"You can't have the public making U-turns at the light to get to your police facility," Rappoport said.
Although the council eventually decided 4-to-2 to have the police station at John C. Wood, it directed city staff to start a new needs analysis for a community center.
"My concern is, we don't do it now ... then the community center will be so down on the list" years later, said Lederer.
"I do know that when the time comes when we need a community center, we'll need community involvement," said council member Gail Lyon.
THE CITY COUNCIL also unanimously approved the following items:
* The City Council approved two recommendations from the Southeast Fairfax Neighborhood Traffic Task Force, to construct two speed humps at Dwight Avenue between Roberts Road and Virginia Street, and install a stop sign, southbound direction only, on Orchard Drive at Dwight Avenue.
The task force, made up of community members from neighborhoods east of University Drive and south of Main Street, had its traffic-calming proposal implemented in 2001, but revisited the issue after more concerns of cut-through traffic. The suggestions for the speed humps and the stop sign were among the items presented to the community on June 25, 2003, and the task force met again on Aug. 20.
The estimated total cost for these measures would be $4,000, with funding from the operating budget and capital account for neighborhood traffic.
*The City Council agreed to allow Fairfax County Public Schools to install two classroom trailers at Daniels Run Elementary on Old Lee Highway. The council approved the special use permit, which would install the two trailers behind the school. City school superintendent George Stepp said the trailers would be used for two music teachers and a part-time Gifted and Talented teacher. Overcrowding has occurred at Daniels Run because of a reduction in pupil-teacher ratios, as well as more families moving into the area, Stepp said.
* The council approved the special use permit application of Truro Episcopal Church to allow additional church-related uses on property adjacent to the principal church site and owned by the church. The church would use the property for outdoor activities associated with a week-long vacation Bible school, a two-week long summer camp, and with church small groups.
* The council approved the request of Transportation Director Alex Verzosa to construct an extension of an existing CUE Bus washer facility and purchase and install a new bus washer, for $335,000. The city had submitted an application to the state asking for $400,00, but the state only approved $160,000 for the construction and installation. Further, with state grants, the city needs to fund the money first, then they send the invoice to the state to get reimbursed, Verzosa said.