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Supervisors discuss future of historic, PWA-era Arcola School

The Old Arcola School was the fifth Public Works Administration construction project, and the only PWA school built in Loudoun, according to the National Parks Service documents, which go on to state “the school is a classic example of PWA architecture and the local, state and national civic pride for which it stood.”
The future use of the Old Arcola Elementary School remains an open question, with Loudoun supervisors this week referring the project to the board's finance committee to further consider utilization of the historic, New Deal-Public Works Administration structure.

The school building, built in 1939 as part of the PWA and listed in National Register of Historic Places and Virginia Landmarks Register, has been vacant since 2006, when its operations as a community center were shifted to the Dulles South Multipurpose Center in South Riding.

Cost is the primary concern pertaining to the Old Arcola School project. Years-old estimates of renovating and refurbishing the building are listed at more than $5 million, though the current price tag is probably closer to $10 million, according to county staff. Because of the financial pressures, Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge), who represents the area of the school, agreed to have the item sent to finance committee rather than the Transportation and Land Use Committee, which is what she originally suggested.

“There is no debt capacity, no cash capacity in the six-year Capital Improvements Plan to do this,” said Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), chairman of the board's finance committee. “So, it is ultimately a financial issue.”

If the supervisors do end up willing to spend millions for renovations, how the county will put to use the building is a major outstanding question. Supervisors were at odds over whether a preschool would be appropriate at the site – given the busy corridor and the fact the county doesn't currently service a stand-alone preschool without outside partnerships. Concerns were also voiced over whether there would be demand for a new community center at the location, 24244 Gum Spring Road, Sterling.

As a county asset, the Old Arcola School and property could generate interest on the open market, as well.

“There are a lot of issues that we're going to have to work through here,” said Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles). “If there's private sector interest I think we should be open to that, if there's nonprofit interest then I'm open to that. But, in terms of a county facility investment, the bar's going to be pretty high.”

The Old Arcola School was the only Public Works Administration school and the fifth PWA project constructed in Loudoun, according to National Parks Service documents, which go on to state "the school is a classic example of PWA architecture and the local, state and national civic pride for which it stood."

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This school is a part of the community that has been there for over a hundred years.  The people who lived in this community and attended the school have great pride in both.  It also has great historic value as there are very few who would believe that a school this size ever existed or was able to capably provide for the area.  Why is the mentality always to much money so lets forget it and move on, when there are opportunities for this building to not only represent it’s history but to serve future generations.  Life isn’t easy to start with so what’s a little effort to save a piece of the history of the people of this county, state and nation.  Have a little pride and lets stand together to support our past as well as our present and future.  Where we come from is as important as where we are going!!!!

as those pushing this knew even before they belatedly got it officially listed as historic, the preschool and daycare uses are nonconforming, and were grandfathered there when it was a community center (senior services discontinued for sanitation/health dept issues).  It would need to go through a full process to even attempt to restore them.  In addition, no guarantee that the asbestos listed as “contained” when the years-out-of-date evaluation was done is still contained, or that the cost to deal with same has gone down (sarc alert).  As with the same folks’ wishes to simply add on to Aldie elementary in a floodplain, this is some seriously wishful thinking.  The county has more vital projects that will serve a far greater number of people at less cost.

Sell for the lowest bid from a developer and cram as many over priced houses on it that you ca

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