Please read the following update on the Maury Schoolyard Initiative!
The Maury Schoolyard Initiative (MSI) was formed about a year ago by Maury parents who wanted to improve the outdoor space at the school. A committee was formed and was formally adopted by the Maury PTA in July 2013.
The outdoor space at Maury looks tired and provides only limited opportunities for children at the school and in the community to enjoy themselves. Nearby Beach Park, which is the responsibility of the City, is due for redevelopment in the coming years and it, too, offers limited choices for play and relaxation to children and adults of the community. Rain water run off and seemingly poor drainage affect both the schoolyard and the park. As school numbers have increased, leading to greater use of facilities, poor drainage is causing serious damage to the playing field at the school. A group of parents felt that something needed to be done. In the beginning these parents sought the comments and suggestions of as many people and organizations from the community and City as possible. The Maury PTA provided strong support and agreed to spend money raised in the 2012/13 school year to start the long process of improving the outdoor space at Maury. That money funded recent outdoor play equipment upgrades at the school and will continue to fund a comprehensive business and design plan, which is discussed below.
The sustainable long-term redevelopment of the Maury schoolyard offers multiple opportunities to improve the outdoor space and make it more enjoyable, educational, healthy and environmentally friendly for the students and families of the Maury School and Rosemont communities. Developing a cost-effective and consensus vision for the schoolyard’s redevelopment requires thoughtful consideration of multiple issues. These are complex and include technical and inter-related environmental, engineering, aesthetic, safety and educational factors. The coincident City process to consider how to improve the adjacent Beach Park offers an enhanced opportunity to produce a community-wide plan for outdoor spaces that all can use and enjoy.
On Tuesday, October 1st, the MSI and the world-class design/architecture/planning firm of Gensler, hosted a brainstorming session to share, collect and discuss ideas. Members of the community and experts from the City discussed design, technical and financial ideas that could help with the redevelopment of the outdoor space at Maury. The meeting was a huge success – the group worked well together and many insights and great suggestions were offered from all participants. The MSI is still keen to gather additional ideas and comments from the Maury and Rosemont communities.
Many parents and community members have ideas for the enhancement of the Maury schoolyard. So that we can continue to consider and incorporate ideas from everyone, we would still like to get more community input. If you have ideas or suggestions please send them by October 11th to Dale Medearis via email at [email protected] and Henri van Goethem via email at [email protected].
In addition to the collaboration with Gensler to re-imagine the schoolyard for the future, there are several current MSI improvement projects. These projects rely on volunteer support and it would be great to have more help from the community. The current projects are:
1. Repainting the blacktop portion of the Maury schoolyard – this project, which is funded by a grant from the RunningBrooke Fund of ACT for Alexandria, began on October 3rd, and we are seeking Maury Community volunteers to help paint on October 6th, 12th, 13th, 19th, and 20th.
2. $30,000 Dannon RALLY for RECESS Program – this project will begin in October and we anticipate needing Maury Community participation to complete the entries required to promote our school – additional details will be forthcoming.
Finally, the MSI committee welcomes your ideas for fundraising efforts that would support the post-design implementation phase of the schoolyard improvement project. If you are interested in helping either project or have fundraising ideas, please contact Sue Setliff at [email protected].
So what’s next? With regard to a roadmap of next steps in the schoolyard improvement process, the MSI committee will continue to work with Gensler, focusing on developing concept direction. We will host a table at Maury’s fall festival on October 26th and we welcome you to stop by for additional collaboration with us! In early December, we will review the resulting emerging design report from Gensler and then, in late December, we will review the final design report that will include potential estimated costs.
The final outcome of the current phase will be a full-fledged business and design plan with cost estimates for the schoolyard that will be used to frame and guide the planning and budgeting of the potential redevelopment of the school by ACPS. We hope, too, that the work will inform the City as it considers improvements to Beach Park. Throughout our remaining projects and ‘future activities,’ we will continue to share feedback with the Maury Community and continue to present the road ahead as best we can.
Thank you in advance for any contribution you are able to make. Together we can make big changes to our schoolyard for the benefit of all children. Further, we hope that these improvements will be valuable to all of us in the community.
Representing the MSI Committee,
Dale Medearis / Sue Setliff / Laurence Smallman / Henri van Goethem