In an effort to raise as much as $12 million for school construction and renovation, the Fairfax County School Board voted Thursday night to sell a 35.5-acre parcel of wooded land near Springfield to a developer.
The sale of the Pohick site will allow the school system to open two elementary schools ahead of schedule and to renovate 10 existing elementary schools, Glasgow Middle School and Woodson High School.
The Pohick site is one of the school system’s vacant school sites which would probably never be used for school construction. A clause in the original proffer agreement said that the school system must either use the land for a school or it reverts back to the developer. So, school officials said, they were left with an unusable parcel of land that could be declared surplus and sold.
"This is a unique opportunity for us to meet our capital needs," said Dean Tistadt, the school system’s assistant superintendent for facilities and transportation. "There is no other purpose for this land."
Residents of the South Run Crossing community, which borders the Pohick property, prepared for the reality that a new housing development would be built on the school-owned site at the intersection of Huntsman Boulevard and Fairfax County Parkway.
"When you have a property that could be used for public purposes and you put 100-plus houses on it, it's going to create problems, especially in terms of traffic," said South Run resident Richard O'Brien.
Jim Johnson, president of the South Run Crossing Community Association, said his community is hoping to meet with Van Metre Homes, the developer of the property, to discuss the terms of development.
"At this point, we're kind of stuck with the decision. The goal is to try to make the best of it," said Johnson, who agreed with O'Brien that the school board's decision might have been too hasty.
"If the school board is going to be disposing of other properties, they need to fix the process," he said.