The Prince William County Board of Supervisors has decided to put a six-month moratorium on any action regarding a 13-acre site near Pattie Elementary School.
The School Board had proposed that the school be declared surplus and turned over to the board of supervisors on the condition that the county pay for the construction of a $1.5 million school administration complex to be built at Independent Hill outside Manassas. A new complex would bring the administration staff, now scattered at two Manassas sites several miles apart, under one roof.
Neabsco Supervisor John Jenkins cast the only dissenting vote, saying later that the resolution "acknowledged that an administration center is required."
Said Jenkins, "I don't believe the board should verify or support that a school administration center is necessary as long as there are schools that need to be built." Space for students, he said, is one of the biggest problems Prince William faces.
Although there were two other land parcels that the School Board is considering declaring surplus -- a 25-acre site on Godwin Drive and 15 acres on Tudor Lane -- the Pattie site is the only one that is controversial. It fronts the Montclair community, whose residents have opposed commercial development in the area.
Ron O'Neill, president of the Montclair Property Owners Association, said that his 2,000-member group wants the school land turned into a recreation area.
According to County Attorney John Foote, the board's action will give Dumfries Supervisor Ed King an opportunity to assure the Montclair group that the supervisors are acting in good faith. "It's a cooling down period," he said.
The city of Manassas is interested in buying both of the Manassas sites from the county.