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Should this neighborhood park in Oakton be replaced by a new elementary school?

(Photo: ABC7)
(Photo: ABC7)
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A Fairfax County group fighting to keep their neighborhood park from being turned into a public elementary school won a victory Tuesday, but their fight is not over.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 10-0 to add language to a school bond referendum that makes it less likely Blake Lane Park will be replaced by a school.

Since last summer, the group “Save Blake Lane Park” has been fighting to preserve the park, which is on Blake Lane in Oakton a short distance north of I-66. It is surrounded by neighborhoods, and group members say for many people it’s the only public green space they live close to.

“We have condos, townhouses, apartments. So most people don’t have backyards in this area. So this is literally all of our backyards,” said Dennis Allerton, who is a member of Save Blake Lane Park.

The county board of supervisors voted Tuesday to put a school bond referendum before voters this fall that asks for $360 million for the county’s public schools.

Within that $360 million is a request for more than $35 million for a new elementary school in the “Fairfax Oakton area.” Nearby residents learned last year that plans called for building that school on what is today Blake Lane Park.

RELATED: Why the battle continues over the location for a new Virginia elementary school

“[We were told], ‘it was in the capital improvement plan all these years, and you should have known about it,’” said Jennifer Pradas with Save Blake Lane Park. “But it was under ‘Fairfax Oakton site,’ so apparently that was the equivalent to them for Blake Lane.”

But on Tuesday, the supervisors voted to add the phrase “site has not been determined” in reference to the money for a new elementary school in the Fairfax/Oakton area.

Save Blake Lane Park members took that as a very positive sign, although they recognize their fight is not over.

“Hopefully they will not be building [a school at the park site], and they’re going to find other ways to reduce overcrowding,” Pradas said.

ABC7 reached out to Fairfax County Public Schools, which is still not ruling out eventually putting a school where the park is. FCPS sent us a statement that reads:

“The November bond referendum includes $35 million for construction of a new elementary school in the Fairfax/Oakton area. Passage of the referendum does not guarantee a school will be built at the Blake Lane location.
As stated previously, based upon the feedback from the January 2019 community meeting, FCPS will continue to evaluate the merits of the Blake Lane site for the new Fairfax/Oakton elementary school. Review of the Blake Lane site includes parking, traffic, pyramid enrollment trends, boundaries, instructional programs along with park, and community use and could take up to a year. The review will coincide with the planned renovation/expansion at Mosby Woods Elementary School.
The elementary schools in the Oakton High School pyramid do not have room for all the students who reside in the pyramid. The proposed school will address the projected enrollment growth and current capacity challenges in that area. The proposed school site is included in the Capital Improvement Program for FY 2020-24 and the project has been identified for more than 6 years within the FCPS CIP.”
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The school system later added: “FCPS is open to evaluating and assessing alternative sites.”

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