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Council To Purchase County Land

City to buy Eleven Oaks property in an effort to protect future character of neighborhood

As the City of Fairfax works to complete the city’s road link to George Mason University, an opportunity to protect the surrounding residential neighborhood became too good to pass up.

The Eleven Oaks School, 10515 School St., sits on a piece of property situated in both the city and county limits. A portion of the property is needed to complete the George Mason Boulevard road project, so city officials decided to purchase the entire property in order to control its future use.

Fairfax County Public Schools owns Eleven Oaks, and used it as administrative offices through the 2006-07 school year. Now, the city is borrowing $4 million to buy the property.

"About year ago, we heard from [Fairfax County Public Schools] that they were considering using the property for an alternative education use that we felt strongly didn’t belong in the residential community that surrounds [Eleven Oaks]," said Mayor Robert Lederer, at the June 26 City Council meeting. "We were significantly concerned about that."

The city decided to buy the whole property, for $4 million, most of which the city would get back when it puts it back on the market for residential redevelopment, Lederer said. About 70 percent of the Eleven Oaks property is in the county, and the other 30 percent is in the city. Only a small portion of the entire property is needed to complete George Mason Boulevard.

The appropriation resolution approved at the Tuesday, June 26, public hearing allows the city to award lease financing to the winning bidder. City Council will vote to approve the financing for the project at its Tuesday, July 10, meeting.

GEORGE MASON Boulevard was designed to reduce traffic on University Drive, from south of Armstrong Street to the city limits near the Eleven Oaks property. The city predicts the boulevard will improve safety, eliminate vehicular conflict with the existing driveways along University Drive and provide a stronger link between the university and the city, according to city documentation from a Sept. 21 2004 public outreach meeting with nearby residents.

"This is a very aggressive step by this City Council to protect the surrounding communities against future uses," Lederer said. "We’re doing this solely to protect the residential character of the community."

<1b>— Lauren Glendenning