The Future Plans of JBR

Planners recommend go-ahead for Catholic school in Larchmont

By RONNIE RATLIFF JR., The Virginian-Pilot
© October 24, 2003

NORFOLK — A parochial school for pre-kindergarteners through eighth-graders will start construction in Larchmont in June if the City Council follows recommendations made by the Planning Commission on Thursday.

The commission unanimously endorsed plans for Saint Patrick Catholic School by recommending street closures and a zoning change for the 16.5-acre site.

“I think everyone agrees it will be a real plus for our community,” said Barbara Zoby, the commission’s chairwoman.

A dozen supporters, mostly from local parishes, attended the meeting and applauded the vote.

Maria Welch, 43, a mother of three who plans to enroll her two sons, Jacob and Matthew, said she was pleased that no one spoke against the project.

“It shows that the neighborhood may really want this,” she said.

Last month, some Larchmont residents, concerned about increased traffic, questioned building a school so close to Larchmont Elementary School.

Larchmont Elementary, a public school, sits at the corner of Bolling and Hampton Boulevard. Saint Patrick, which will have 400students, is planned for Bolling at Jamestown Crescent, just a couple of blocks away.

David O’Dell, president of the Larchmont/Edgewater Civic League, said he’d been impressed with the school’s planning and believed its supporters have worked well with the civic league to appease traffic concerns.

“There shouldn’t be much concern now. . . They have addressed all of our issues,” he said.

Charles V. McPhillips, president of the nonprofit Barry Robinson Schools of Norfolk, which is funded by the James Barry-Robinson Trustand is organizing the school, said a study showed that overall traffic would be reduced. Also a long, looping entrance is planned to bring cars off Bolling during peak times.

Saint Patrick’s school day will start and end at different times than Larchmont’s to avoid congestion, he said.

The community, McPhillips said, would also be able to use the school’s athletic fields, gym and auditorium after students go home.

“We don’t want our school to just be in Larchmont, but become a part of Larchmont,” he said.