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Group works to save Arlington’s Thomas Jefferson Park

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ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) – As the Arlington County Fair gets underway this week, a local advocacy group is trying to save the land it sits on.

Friends of TJ Park doesn't like the proposal to put a new elementary school on the park site. (WJLA)

Diane Canova is an outspoken advocate for Thomas Jefferson Park in Arlington.

"I have lived in this neighborhood for 15 years. I have walked my dog daily. I use the walking path and tennis courts and other amenities, and would really hate to see it go away," she said.

Canova is a member of Friends of TJ Park, a group that doesn't like the proposal to put a new elementary school on the park site.

"We would like them to go back to the drawing board and reconsider this location at all, and the come up with some other solutions that would meet the needs of the community," she said.

The park is the preferred site of the Arlington Public Schools Board for its next elementary school. Arlington County owns the land and is caught in a balancing act.

"We are victims of our own success, because our schools are growing and that is pretty unusual for an urban place like this," said Jay Fisette, Arlington County Board Chair.

Fisette says the board is trying to work collaboratively with the Arlington Public Schools Board.

There are four different proposals for the park site, which would place the school at a different spot on the grounds.

The TJ Park is also home to the Arlington County Fair, which got underway on Wednesday night. Friends of TJ Park will have a booth at the fair to gather extra signatures for their petition.

The Arlington County Board has approved the appointment of a working group that will study the feasibility of the plans for a school at TJ Park. The Friends of TJ Park will have one seat on the group, which will have until the end of January to make a decision.

"The working group has two options, they can say, ‘Yes, we’ve identified a place on this site, where the traffic and transportation and open-space needs are dealt with, and it’s OK ,’ or, ‘It can't be done,’ and that would mean the schools would have to go to their second option, which is some additions on existing schools," Fisette said.

Taxpayers will also need to approve funding for a new school, which is estimated to cost $50 million.

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