A protest from two Fairfax City community organizations temporarily derailed plans to move the entire police department into the empty John C. Woods School on Old Lee Highway last week, but city officials now say they believe the move will be made.
Petitions from the Layton Hall Elementary School Parent-Teachers Association and the Old Lee Highway Civic Association prompted City Council members last week to vote 5 to 1 to reconsider their July 12 decision to move the 60-member police department, the recreation offices and the administrative offices of the city Fire and Rescue Department into John C. Woods, an unused elementary school across the street from Layton Hall Elementary.
Town spokesman Thomas Welle said citizens complained that putting the police department in the old school would create a dangerous situation for nearby residents and for children using Layton Hall School.
Welle said city planners considered that issue when they first recommended moving the police department as a way of relieving overcrowding at City Hall. In those original studies, said Welle, police indicated they responded to calls from wherever police cruisers were working, rather than jumping into an idle police car at police headquarters.
Mayor John Russell, a supporter of the plan, said he thinks the council will reaffirm its original decision when the issue comes up for another vote, now scheduled for Sept. 13.
"We have 4 1/2 yards of paper of studies on this issue, and I believe the council will come to the same conclusion they did in July," said Russell. "The police department is closer to a residential area where it is now than where it will be if located at the school. And we also think that the Van Dyke Park will greatly benefit by having closer police protection."