At a presentation on the newly proposed location of 13th high school, parents weighed pros and cons of locating the school adjacent to the outdoor concert venue Jiffy Lube Live.
The 13th public high school in Prince William County is slated to be built at the nexus of Bristow, Gainesville and Manassas in the Brentsville district. It will relieve overcrowding at Patriot, Battlefield and Stonewall Jackson high schools.
David Beaver, Supervisor of Planning and Financial Services for Prince William County Schools, delivered the his presentation to approximately 40 residents at Gainesville Middle School, Thursday.
According to Beavers, the previously proposed location – on Linton Hall Road and across the intersection of Rollins Ford Road – had a few significant disadvantages. It would have required the extension of Rollins Ford to the north and a two lane left-turn lane.
The school division found these road improvements wasteful since they were only necessary in the short term. Facilities and planning staff also worried about the amount of traffic on Linton Hall Road, a major corridor in Bristow and Gainesville.
Thus, when the school division saw an opportunity to purchase another piece of land from the E.V. Hunter Trust, and proffers to create more access, they quickly moved to consider it.
The new proposed location of the 13th high school is off Progress Court immediately north of Jiffy Lube Live. It is in an industrial zoned area, and is farther away from Patriot High School. The school is accessible from Gainesville and Haymarket across Route 29 as well as from Bristow, eastern Gainesville and southern Manassas.
The plot of land is 84 acres, five acres bigger than the Rollins Ford site. A road proffer offered by incoming Life Time Fitness would build a four lane Wentworth Green Drive providing a convenient access point. Additionally access points are via University Drive, Lime Stone Drive and Wellington Road. If University Drive is ever extended, that could provide more access as well.
Some parents had concerns about the school’s proximity to the concert venue. Their concerns included traffic, noise, overlapping of events, vandalism, safety and the intrusion of party-goers. There were additional concerns about truck traffic from the industrial area.
Beavers assured residents the school division would take any measure necessary for the safety of their students.
“We are going to make this school safe in the same way every other school is safe…We don’t want them our property, and they don’t want us on theirs,” he said, “unless it’s someone famous.”
Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson explained that they are working very closely with Jiffy Lube Live to make it work for everyone.
“I think its a very compatible site,” said Lawson. “No doubt [Jiffy Lube Live] will work very closely with the county.”
Beavers said they would not schedule home football games during concerts and events.
A resident expressed doubt that the arrangement would work, saying the concert venue would be more interested in its own profits than accommodating the school division.
“[Are you at all concerned that this] could this be the biggest blunder ever?” one man asked.
The on-time opening of the school was another concern for parents.
“We know how important this school is,” said Beavers. “This has been delayed twice already.” He added that they also know how overcrowded the feeder schools are.
Beavers explained appears that the PRICE [Patriot Remodel Increasing Capacity Efficiently] model of the school, which can accommodate 2,557 students, approximately 50 more than the other model, will be built per the schools’ Comprehensive Improvement Plan (CIP.)
Brentsville acting-school board member Shawn Brann said there was no objections at the school board’s markup meeting, Wednesday; the model still needs to be approved by the school board at its April 15 meeting.
The PRICE model is based off the Patriot model, but will add more classrooms on the second floor, and will not have some of the aesthetic flourishes. According to Beavers, it still has many windows and natural light. It does not have “store front” windows as Patriot does, but has many set in windows instead.
The newly proposed location will cost PWCS the same amount per acres as the other location; however, fewer road improvements make it more cost-effective.
Communities from which the school would draw will not be determined until approximately two years before its opening.
A western transportation center/bus depot will be situated directly east of Jiffy Lube Live. Beavers said since buses leave so early, he does not expect bus traffic will be an issue.
The location will need to seek the recommendation of the Planning Commission. Although the Jiffy Lube Live site is the school division’s preferred location, the Rollins Ford location is not completely off the table at this time.
Beavers said the layout of the school’s campus may change from how it is current depicted on the map.
© 2017, Stacy Shaw. All rights reserved.