Arlington to Put Temporary Fire Station 10 on Wilson School Site

Published on September 24, 2016

  • Board decision after extensive public outreach

  • County, APS to mitigate impact on students

  • Two dozen sites examined

The Arlington County Board today accepted the County Manager's recommendation to put a temporary fire station on the Wilson School site, after extensive public engagement and examination of two dozen potential sites.

"This was a very tough decision for the Board," Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. "And we know that there will be members of the community who are disappointed. I think everyone will agree, however, that we listened to the community's concerns and launched a thorough search for an alternative that would meet the criteria of providing fire protection and emergency medical services to Rosslyn, at a reasonable cost to taxpayers. We acknowledge that this solution will need to be accompanied by serious efforts to mitigate the impact of the fire station on the Wilson school site and the students who will be learning there. We have always said the redevelopment of Western Rosslyn is complex and difficult, but in the end, it will result in benefits for our entire community. We will have a wonderful new urban school, new, integrated open space, including a park that the developer has agreed to pay for, a fire station that the developer will build, affordable housing and a commercial building."

The Board voted 5 to 0 to site Fire Station 10 on the Wilson school site until a new, modern fire station that can better serve the Rosslyn neighborhood can be built nearby. Read the staff report and presentation for this item on the website (see Item No. 55D on the agenda).

The Board's decision came after extensive analysis and additional community outreach, conducted after the Board's approval in July of a ground lease with developer Penzance, permitting Penzance to redevelop their property at 1555 Wilson Boulevard, along with the adjacent property owned by the County, in a manner consistent with the Western Rosslyn Area Plan (WRAP). The Board at the same time approved a License Agreement with the Arlington County School Board, allowing a temporary fire station to be permitted on the Wilson School site while Penzance builds the new Fire Station 10. The outreach effort included two public meetings, a presentation to the Public Facilities Review Committee and an online survey. More detailed information is available on the Temporary Fire Station 10 project page.

In all, 24 sites were examined. Only the Wilson School site met all of the criteria. The County Manager reported to the Board that the site was chosen because:

  • Of the available options, it best meets the fire response area requirements that are essential to public safety in Rosslyn. It is on the same block as the existing, and future location for Fire Station 10;

  • The County has worked with APS to develop plans for an on-site temporary recreation play field of approximately half the size of the ultimate full playing field, to complement the rooftop outdoor spaces and the school gymnasium in providing recreational space for students in the interim;

  • Is sufficiently sized to accommodate all of the necessary facilities required to support a temporary fire station;

  • Has minimal topographical and utility constraints that would need to be corrected with site work to support a temporary fire station;

  • Is appropriately zoned and designated by the GLUP to support a temporary fire station;

  • The property is owned by the Arlington County School Board in its entirety and is the subject of a License Agreement between the County and the Arlington County School Board to use the site for a temporary fire station;

  • Requires no closures of roads and only minor adjustments to traffic signals;

  • Guarantees the completion of the permanent fire station sooner than if another site is selected for the temporary fire station; and

  • Placement of the temporary fire station in an area already home to a fire station, and an area to be home to a permanent fire station does not alter the expectations of nearby residents. The placement of a fire station on the site has been discussed for an extensive period of time as part of the WRAPS process.

Rhodeside Green Park, Lee Highway property not feasible

Two other sites of particular interest, Rhodeside Green Park and the Lee Highway property located next to the Rosslyn Holiday Inn, were determined not to be feasible for reasons detailed in the staff report (see Item No. 55D on the agenda for the September Regular County Board Meeting).


As compensation for allowing the fire station to be temporarily sited on the Wilson School site, the County has agreed to pay for a fenced playing field on the Wilson site, temporary covered walkways, transporting students to an off-site recreational facility, and incremental costs associated with the delayed construction of the parking garage and playing field that schools plans to build on the Wilson School site. The preliminary estimate of these costs to the County is approximately $1 million.