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July 16, 2020

Members of the Neighborhood Forum met with a few staff members and asked some questions.  

T.C. Williams High School and Neighborhood Forum

July 16, 2020, 7:00 P.M. - Zoom Meeting

In Attendance: 

ACPS Committee Members: Peter Balas, John Finnigan, Mark Eisenhour, James Parker

Neighbor Committee Members: William Goff, Andrea Mackey-Lewis, Gail Noren

Other Attendees: Alicia Hart, William Cook, Carter Fleming, Ms. Mackey, Frances Terrell, Patricia Moran, John Contreras, Phylius Burkes, Helen Lloyd

Agenda - Developed by Chair William Goff and Neighbors 

Zoom Norms:

  • Please mute self when not talking 
  • Please use raise hand feature to be called on
  • Stick to the agenda
  • Be mindful of time 

Review the Purpose of our Committee - From the 2018 DSUP: 

  1. NEIGHBORHOOD COMMITTEES AND COMMUNICATIONS

 

  1. To provide a permanent forum for the discussion and resolution of neighborhood issues that arise as a result of the impacts on the adjacent neighborhood from the ongoing operation of the high school and stadium, ACPS shall establish and coordinate a T.C. Williams Neighborhood Forum. The members of the Forum from ACPS will include the Principal, Athletic Director, Director of Facilities and Operations for T.C. Williams, and the ACPS Chief Operating Officer or designee. The Forum shall include up to four residents of the adjacent neighborhoods, including at least one on Bishops Lane and one on Woods Place, each of which will jointly serve, for a term not to exceed two years, to assist in the coordination of meetings and topics for discussion. The adjacent neighborhood representatives to the Forum will select a chair from the neighbors of the school, for a term not to exceed two years, to assist in the coordination of meetings and topics for discussion. The Forum will meet quarterly to include a walking tour of the school site at each meeting with the above-stated representatives in attendance. The Forum will provide a report of the quarterly meetings and walking tours to the School Board and to Planning and Zoning staff no later than two weeks following the meetings. (P&Z) (PC) (DSUP2017-0016)

 

  1. Why were the neighbors not informed when the demolition of the stadium would be initiated? I discovered signs on the field stating the demolition would begin on the 13th of July. Why was there no direct message or contact to the neighborhood? The neighborhood needs to be given the hours for demolition as well as the fact that there would be no demolition on weekends. There has been poor communication at best.

NOTES: 


James Parker emailed the neighbor group as soon as alerted of the start of construction. We will ensure that all updates regarding construction of the stadium are included in emails from James Parker, who will resume emailing the neighbors weekly. James Parker will email neighbors every week about stadium use and include a construction update every two weeks in those same emails. 


John Finnigan noted that the initial signage should not have stated that demolition would begin on July 13. What is occurring now is site survey work and removal of equipment to prepare for demolition that will begin in early August. He stated that the contractor will abide by the hours allowed by the City which are  7:00 AM to 6:00 PM Monday thru Friday and 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Saturday.  Link to City website regarding construction hours: Construction Hours


Mr. Goff also indicated that he was particularly concerned about the noise affecting the residents of Woods Avenue as they were close to the concession stand. Mr. Finnigan stated that most of the work, with the possible exception of the removal of the press box with a crane, should not create a significant amount of noise. He walked the group through a few details of the process to replace the field and the track to explain how the type of work being completed would create minimal noise.


Please also continue to review the ACPS/TCW Parker-Gray Stadium website for updates. 

 

  1. There needs to be security at all times monitoring the field now, during construction, and after construction. People in Maryland use this field regularly—why would you damage a new field—if you cannot watch over the field—lock it like most high schools do.

NOTES:  


The field has been posted as closed in accordance with Governor’s orders for closures. As phases continue to advance, ACPS/TCW will use security to monitor and secure as well as respond to any violations of field users. James Parker stated that he will work with his coaches to ensure that all of the equipment is locked up so that it can not be used by unauthorized persons. Dr. Hart stated that the Educational Facilities Office will collaborate with the school and the Office of Safety and Security to create a plan to secure the field during construction and a plan to keep it secured once construction is complete.


Ms. Fleming expressed additional concerns and questioned why the field was not closed to the general public.  She cited Francis Hammond as an example of where the track is opened to the public but the field is locked. Mr. Balas said that there is a permit process that should be followed to use the field and that in the case of Parker-Gray stadium it involves the Superintendent’s office for approval. Mr. Goff cited past experiences where he has confronted groups as large as 250 using the track for a meet without a permit. He also stated that when he called security he was directed to APD who directed him back to security. Mr. Contreras asked to be informed of any instance when the security office was not responsive to his requests so that he could address it immediately.

 

  1. More than 50 trees are dead in the area around the stadium. When will this be corrected? These trees mitigate noise.

NOTES: 


Balas spoke to Dr. Hart about these work orders and she will be following up on the work ahead for this request. ACPS does have a landscaper under contract and her office will ensure that any work completed will be in line with the stadium construction process. Mr. Finnigan also noted that the original contract for the trees installed in 2015 included irrigation for the first six months. He noted that many of the trees have died within the last year and the reason needs to be investigated before additional trees are planted. Finally, he stated that the construction of the fence may impact some of the existing trees and that would affect the type and number that may need to be replaced.

 

  1. The 10-foot wall planned serves no purpose for noise mitigation. Build a wall that decreases noise—forget the beauty—mitigate the noise.

NOTES: 


Mr. Finnigan stated that the new sound system would direct all sound towards the home bleachers and away from the neighboring homes.  He also stated that sound studies were conducted during the design process and that the noise levels fell within the levels required by the City noise ordinance without a fence. The current height of the fence, 10 feet, was the result of feedback from community meetings and represented an increase of the original height of 8 feet. The fence, constructed primarily of wood connected to brick piers, would offer additional sound attenuation.  Finally, Finnigan stated that additional sound studies would be conducted at events once construction has been completed and, if necessary, adjustments will be made.

 

  1. There is currently no Director of Safety and Security for the school district. Why are there no plans for a traffic study on King Street? The previous study is 16 years old. What about a parking study? Members of the neighborhood feel like you are moving forward without completing the picture of how this will affect the neighborhood.

NOTES:  


Welcome to John Contreras as the new Director of Safety and Security. 


Mr. Goff noted that the lane configuration of King Street has changed since the last traffic study and that there is a clear need for an update. He also was very concerned about spectators parking on the side streets around the stadium. Ms. Noren also asked some security related questions regarding bag checks, requiring clear bag/backpacks and the use of metal detectors. Mr. Balas stated that the safety and security of the students staff and spectators is always his number one priority. He stated that for any large event, ACPS coordinates coverage with administrators, school security officers, school resource officers and APD, which provides additional officers depending on the size of the event. Additionally, he noted that administrators stay with students until everyone is picked up from campus.


Mr. Contreras also noted that while the authority of the school security officers ends at the boundaries of the campus, he will coordinate with APD to mitigate any impacts on the surrounding neighborhood.  


Parking - Mr.Contreras stated that he would explore the possibility of additional parking at Bradlee and Mr. Balas noted that for large events, such as Back to School Night, the Minnie Howard Campus lot and nearby churches have provided additional parking.


More information on the details to request a parking study for next meeting.

 

  1. What are the plans for Alexandria schools—with “distancing as the fix” to stem the virus? The high school is now excessively too small—now excessively overcrowded—what is your plan—is there a plan at all? (Balas)

NOTES: 


Mr. Balas provided a brief overview of the process ACPS is following to determine how and when ACPS will reopen. Ms. Lloyd indicated that the next update to the School Board on reopening will occur on July 24 and a final decision will be voted on at the August 7 Board Meeting. Mr. Contreras also stated that regardless of what is decided ACPS will work within the constraints of current facilities and there are no plans for additional capacity to allow for social distancing requirements.


Please continue to follow the ACPS Reopening of Schools website for updates as this work continues and the ACPS School Board gets updated at their meetings.