A special request by Del Ray Montessori to create a pick-up and drop-off zone for students on E. Windsor Avenue met with opposition from the Del Ray Citizens Association on Monday night.
The association voted 14-3 to oppose efforts by the fledgling school to designate an area along the north side of E. Windsor Avenue, adjacent to Del Ray United Methodist Church, for parents taking their kids to and from school.
Parking is currently restricted on the north side of the street and would continue to be under the proposal. However, under the plan, an area of about two car lengths or more would be reserved for the school, and allow for teachers to meet the parents at the cars to ferry the children into the school in the morning and bring them out in the afternoon.
Association members feared the change would complicate travel on Windsor Avenue, which they noted is a narrow street.
Del Ray Montessori opened a daycare and school last summer in the church and currently has 21 students, more than half of whom walk, bike or scooter to school, said school founder Sarah Fondriest. The school seeks to expand enrollment by 20 students, a move the DRCA unanimously supports.
A separate daycare center, Creative Play School, operates from the church already and uses the church lot adjacent to Clyde Avenue for parking as well as its own pick-up and drop-off needs. Adding even more cars to the lot would aggravate existing issues with traffic in the narrow lanes of Clyde Avenue, school officials say.
The DRCA Land Use Committee recommended instead that the city remove two or three parking spaces at the southern end of the east curb of Clyde Avenue and create a loading zone which could then be used by Del Ray Montessori.
Several association members disagreed with that idea, however, including Del Ray resident Gayle Reuter.
"Based on living a block from Clyde and walking in this area most mornings, I was very concerned for the congestion already facing this overcrowded block," Reuter said in an email on Tuesday. "With parking permitted on both sides of Clyde and cars often having to back up due to oncoming cars, I supported the city's, the church's and Montessori's school recommendation to have drop-off and pick-up on Windsor Avenue."
The DRCA will send its recommendation to City Council, which will consider the application during a public hearing scheduled for Feb. 25.
The Alexandria Planning Commission approved the application with a 7-0 vote on Feb. 7.
At that time, Planning Commissioner Eric Wagner, addressed the land-use committee's concerns. "All east-west streets in Del Ray are narrow, not just Windsor."
Maria Wasowski, president of the Del Ray Business Association, also spoke at the planning commission in support of the school's proposal to create the special zone on Windsor Avenue.
"Kids can walk straight in and straight out," she said. "You don't have to take parking spaces away."
Drew Hansen contributed to this report.