Tysons, VA

The McLean Project for the Arts is among the recipients of $50,000 grants from the National Endowment for the Arts CARES Act to help with the financial fallout from the pandemic.

Thirteen other arts organizations in Virginia were awarded the funding, according to a press release from the arts organization.

“This grant provides critical support as we continue to adapt our visual arts programming and carry out our mission during and beyond this COVID-19 pandemic,” Lori Carbonneau, MPA’s executive director, said in the press release.

The NEA said it received more than 3,100 eligible applications and ultimately awarded the grants totaling $44.5 million to 855 organizations across the U.S. Only arts organizations that had previously received NEA funds were eligible.

“To review the applications, the agency used more than 200 application readers and panelists to review and score each application using the published review criteria,” according to the NEA.

The grants will support staff salaries, fees for artists or contractors and facilities costs, the press release said, noting that arts and culture sector employs more than 5 million people.

Photo by Ian Williams on Unsplash

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A new survey wants to find out how people feel about heading to offices, retailers and entertainment venues during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tysons Partnership created the survey to inform Tysons-area businesses and community organizers as Gov. Ralph Northam rolls back COVID-19 restrictions.

Currently, Virginia is in Phase Three, which means that non-essential retail, parks, restaurants and places of worship can fully open. Some restrictions and guidelines are still in effect — teleworking is strongly encouraged, gatherings are limited to 250 and places like fitness centers and entertainment venues can open with limited capacity.

“I’ve been extraordinarily impressed by how Tysons-based employers pivoted from conventional office work environments to virtual workspaces,” Sol Glasner, Tysons Partnership’s president and CEO, told Tysons Reporter.

Now, the survey will help businesses decide what to do about reopening.

“It’s intended to get at people’s perception and give us some flavor of what they are thinking and [their] level of comfort,” Glasner said.

One part of the survey asks respondents to say when they would feel comfortable in various scenarios, like picking up food, shopping at indoor and outdoor malls and flying on a plane.

The survey, which is currently available online, takes five minutes to complete. Glasner said that Tysons Partnership is looking to end the survey next week and hopefully have results available to share in late July.

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Virtual Job Fair — “The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) is still looking for enthusiastic workers to fill seasonal positions now that COVID-19 safety restrictions are being eased and park facilities are reopening under Gov. Ralph Northam’s phased Forward Virginia Blueprint.” [Fairfax County]

Fine Free — “The Mary Riley Styles Public Library no longer charges fines for overdue books and other materials. All previously assessed fines for overdue materials will also be forgiven.” [City of Falls Church]

Support for Climate Crisis — “U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, who represents the 8th District of Virginia that includes the City of Falls Church, [Tuesday] hailed the release of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis action plan, “Solving The Climate Crisis.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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BGR Burger Grilled Right is no longer open in the Mosaic District.

“Unfortunately we are permanently closed as we were unable to reach a reasonable settlement with our landlord like we did in our other locations,” Fred Glick, the president of Amergent Hospitality Group, Inc., told Tysons Reporter.

Glick said that the other nearby BGR locations are open. Now, diners can find BGR in Arlington, Reston and Springfield in Virginia.

Photo via BGR Mosaic/Facebook

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The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck is coming back to The Plaza outside Tysons Corner Center.

As part of its East Coast tour, the pink retail truck will come to Tysons on Saturday, July 11, according to a press release.

Several safety measures will be in place to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Staff will wear masks and gloves and disinfect counters and payment readers every 30 minutes. Customers can expect hand sanitizer, social distancing markers outside and will be asked to wear face coverings.

The truck will not accept cash. Available merch will include mugs, puns, cookies, canvas totes, thermal bottles, t-shirts, water bottles and more, including limited-edition collectibles.

The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will be open from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

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While many organizations facing budget constraints have eliminated staff during the coronavirus pandemic, a local program had a diametric response — increasing their staff to care for residents who are displaced from work.

Tysons-based Langley Residential Support Services is a program that serves adults with developmental disabilities as well as their families and communities through residential and community support services. The program has six homes that offer both intensive and supportive assistance.

Many nonprofits and organizations eliminated staff since the pandemic hit to save money. However, since Langely Residential residents aren’t at work during the day, the site needed more staff to care for the extra number of residents. 

“It’s really tapped out our budget,” said Betsy Schatz, the executive director of Langley Residential. “We have somewhat of a reserve. We’ve been very frugal in our approach to spending during this time since we don’t know how long this is going to affect us.”

An increase in staff isn’t the only change Langley Residential has seen. They have also had to adapt to government guidelines to ensure safety during the pandemic. Masks and hand sanitizer have been provided to whoever requests them, from residents to staff. 

“The safer they are, the safer we are,” said Schatz. 

The facility has limited family visits, allowing families to come to the house and take their loved one outside, but they must wear masks and keep 6 feet away from each other. They are also taking residents’ temperatures frequently. Residents were also given iPads to FaceTime with their families. 

“It’s nice to see that people can finally visit with parents and maintain that closer relationship that is so important to them,” said Schatz. 

When the pandemic first hit, Schatz recounted a struggle to maintain adequate supplies on hand. One of the biggest worries was whether they would have enough medical supplies to keep the environment safe for residents. However, now they’re fully stocked up and working with a medical supply company in Springfield.

To keep residents active, Langley Residential has purchased a variety of games including outdoor putting, Connect Four and different arts and crafts. The facility was initially planning a bowling tournament for the residents, but due to the pandemic, it was canceled.

However, they are planning on holding a formal event in the fall that includes wine tasting and a silent auction. Whether the event comes to fruition depends on what phase of reopening Virginia is in, said Schatz. 

Schatz emphasized that the residents have been doing extremely well with the changes in lifestyle. While the pandemic hit them “out of the blue,” staff and residents have adapted and seem to be upholding the values of the facility and maintaining a feeling of home. 

“Our approach is to serve people as long as we can meet their needs. We want people to age in place, we want to make sure that people know that this is their home, not just a facility that they live in,” said Schatz.

Photo by Ava Green

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Recent arrest data released by the Fairfax County Police Department shows more evidence of disproportionate policing in the county.

The data indicate that Black individuals made up roughly 39 percent of all arrests last year. Black residents account for 9.7 percent of the total population.

FCPD officers arrested 34,330 people in 2019, 57 percent of which were white. White residents make up roughly 61 percent of the total population.

But more information recently provided on the residence of offenders sheds additional light on racial disparities.

Most arrests of Black individuals — nearly 55 percent — were of people outside Fairfax County. But even Black residents who live in the county were arrested at higher rates (29 percent) relative to their population makeup in the county. In Virginia, Black individuals account for nearly 20 percent of the population. 

The Fairfax NAACP says the latest data provide further evidence of disproportionate policing of Blacks in Fairfax County.

We have significant concerns regarding how the data are being collected and released to the public. But what we know for now is that after “use of force” and other policies have been revised and training has purportedly been improved, the data FCPD has released consistently reveal significant problems with disproportionate policing of people of color. Not only is this unacceptable, but it further demonstrates the urgency of the Fairfax County NAACP’s demand that all relevant data concerning FCPD officers’ interactions with citizens – which was promised in 2015 and is long overdue – must be released,” said Luke Levasseur, the chapter’s criminal justice chair.

Most arrests (66 percent) of white people were of county residents.  Traffic stop data, on the other hand, show minimal disparities.

The police department released its data following calls for police reform and nationwide protests over the deaths of Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement. FCPD says it is offering more information in an effort to maintain its commitment of transparency. The department held a community town hall about policing issues with Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

Nearly 70 percent of all traffic citations were given to white people, while 18 percent were given to Black individuals. A detailed breakdown of traffic stop data is available online.

Last month, FCPD released additional data on use of force incidents. Black residents were involved in 46 percent of all use-of-force incidents, even though they make up less than 10 percent of the county’s total population.

Researchers at University of Texas at San Antonio are studying the department’s culture after a study released in 2017 found that roughly 40 percent of all use-of-force incidents involve a Black individual.

Levasseur says the county needs to do more to improve its policing.

“Fairfax County residents deserve policing that does not disproportionality harm Black people, and we believe that the only way that can be achieved is complete transparency with respect to how the county’s different communities are being policed.”

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Earlier this week, the Vienna Town Council approved having Calfee Zoning lead the team that will update the town’s commercial district zoning.

The consulting firm will work with urban design specialists YARD & Company, transportation firm Nelson Nygaard, and land use attorneys from Venable LLP.

Town staff said the committee that evaluated proposals from four teams unanimously concluded Calfee Zoning was the best candidate, highlighting the firm’s work with communities of 10,000-50,000 people near metropolitan areas.

“It should be noted that the Calfee-led team was the only team to include a firm specializing in transportation planning and parking standards,” according to town documents, adding that the town officials wanted a firm with national knowledge of urban design and use planning.

In June, the Town Council repealed its controversial Maple Avenue Commercial (MAC) zone after years of struggling to refresh its zoning code.

“The Town’s last significant zoning code changes occurred more than 50 years ago in 1969; a significant portion of the current zoning code includes regulations that date back to the 1956 zoning ordinance,” according to town documents.

Calfee’s proposal to the town spotlighted how it zoning methodology will fit the town’s vision for its commercial areas:

Development Pattern Districting (DPD) mixes elements of character-based, form-based and Euclidean zoning, as appropriate, is flexible and adaptable, and much more responsive to context, character and sense of place than other zoning approaches. This means that the Town will have all the tools to ensure that the zoning method is specifically tailored to the Town’s various corridors, districts, and nodes. While our team encourages and will work with the Town on an approach that works best for Vienna, the DPD methodology demonstrates that our team thinks creatively and innovatively about land use methods.

City planner and lawyer Sean Suder, who founded Calfee, will serve as the project lead, according to the proposal.

The town will pay Calfee Zoning $223,900 — just under the town’s plans to spend $250,000. Calfee estimates that the work will take 16 months, according to the proposal.

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GreatGatherings has now closed all of its stores, including the Mosaic District location.

In early 2020, the store moved to 2905 District Ave, the former home of Neiman Marcus, from a different location in the Mosaic District.

The home goods store’s website says that the business, American Heritage Billiards, closed on June 25 after the coronavirus pandemic prompted the retail stores to close.

KeyBank confirmed the site’s messages to Tysons Reporter, sharing a complaint against the business that claims American Heritage Billiards “ceased its business operations and abandoned its personal property… on or about June 25.”

The bank is trying to seek relief through the court filing.

“The closure by American Heritage Billiards and GreatGatherings is truly an unfortunate situation for everyone involved,” Laura Mimura, a spokesperson for the bank, told Tysons Reporter.

Mimura added that the bank is not able to address issues with American Heritage Billiards’ pending orders, deliveries and outstanding invoices.

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Vienna Welcomes New Elected Officials — “The new Town Council members, elected during a year with a bumper crop of candidates but virtually no door-to-door campaigning, already are working well together, [new mayor Linda] Colbert said.” [Inside NoVa]

Citizens Group Calls for More Police Accountability — “The Fairfax County Police Department implemented multiple measures following a series of controversial incidents in recent years, but the McLean Citizens Association’s board of directors wants the department to do even more to make officers accountable.” [Inside NoVa]

New Names — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wants school districts across the state to change school names that honor Confederate leaders, writing Monday in a letter to school board leaders that those names ‘reflect our broken and racist past.'” [Patch]

Call to Defund SROs — “Fairfax County NAACP and State Del. Kaye Kory (D) sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam Tuesday asking him to reallocate state funding away from supporting police officers in schools and putting it toward more school counselors.” [Patch]

Local Companies Land “Inno on Fire” List — Both McLean-based Somatus, which focuses on kidney care, and Tysons-based RunSafe Security made DC Inno’s list of the companies, organizations, people and initiatives focused on innovation. [DC Inno]

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