Tysons, VA

Tysons Partnership leaders touted the success of Fairfax County’s initial investment in the nonprofit stakeholder group while making the case for a new round of funding to county leaders on Tuesday (Jan. 12).

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors nominated the Tysons Partnership, which was formed in 2011 to help implement the Tysons Comprehensive Plan, for a $1 million award from the county’s Economic Opportunity Reserve fund on Dec. 1.

The organization previously received $1 million in economic opportunity funds from the county in December 2019.

“The Tysons Partnership has been a prudent investor of those initial funds and are here today to request an additional investment to further advance a community-led vision in conjunction with the county,” Tysons Partnership Chairman Josh White said.

According to White, the partnership raised $630,000 in private funds to match Fairfax County’s contribution between the third quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020, resulting in a total investment of $1.26 million.

The partnership has allocated about $1 million so far, primarily to develop materials that define Tysons as a brand. It has also organized focus groups, community surveys, and virtual events, highlighted by the State of Tysons panel on Dec. 10.

White told the Board of Supervisors during its budget committee meeting that the Tysons Partnership has deferred spending about $250,000 intended to support community events and place activation initiatives that have been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership is returning approximately $370,000 in unmatched funds to Fairfax County. That money will go back into the county’s economic opportunity reserve fund to be redistributed.

If the board approves a new $1 million investment, the funds will go toward marketing, research and data analysis, transportation and mobility projects, and community events, like holiday markets or craft fairs, Tysons Partnership President and CEO Sol Glasner says.

The organization is also collaborating with Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik on a working group focused on finding ways to make the partnership more effective and sustainable.

Glasner says the working group, which held its kick-off meeting yesterday (Wednesday), will deliver its recommendations to the county board and the Tysons Partnership board of directors by the end of this year, with the goal of implementing all of the proposals by January 2023.

The Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to approve the $1 million in economic opportunity reserve funds for the Tysons Partnership when it meets on Feb. 23.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says investing in the partnership will be critical for the future growth of the Tysons area.

“The activities that the Tysons Partnership will need to be engaged in, while they may not be ideal in this pandemic environment, they will be necessary as a part of our economic recovery when we get to that point,” McKay said. “So, I would make the case that this has never been more important than now.”

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Fairfax County workers whose jobs put them at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 could receive a one-time hazard pay bonus of $1,500 if county leaders approve a proposal put forward on Tuesday (Jan. 12).

Fairfax County Director of Human Resources Cathy Spage told the Board of Supervisors during its budget policy committee meeting that about 4,000 county employees would be eligible for the bonus, giving the proposal an overall estimated cost of $6.5 million.

If approved, the funds would come out of $10 million in CARES Act coronavirus relief money that the county had set aside earlier for hazard pay, according to Fairfax County Department of Management and Budget Director Christina Jackson.

“I think there’s a strong desire on the board to move forward with something,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “I know there’s still some lingering debate on some pieces of this, but I think the principle here is one that is strongly supported.”

Under the county’s proposal, the hazard pay bonus will be available to workers whose exposure risk level is rated high or very high based on Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) standards established by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

Adopted on July 15, the VOSH COVID-19 risk assessment puts workers in very high, high, medium, and lower risk categories based on their work environment, their proximity to people known or suspected to be infected, their ability to maintain social distancing, and other factors.

The bonus will only be open to merit employees, because the lack of standard schedules for non-merit employees would make it “problematic” to include them, according to Jackson.

Several board members raised concerns about employees being excluded from getting hazard pay despite risking infection by the novel coronavirus as part of their job. For instance, the VOSH standard classifies school settings, restaurants, and construction sites as medium risk.

“There have been outbreaks on construction sites. We know that it happens,” Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw said. “Based on what I’ve read of the VOSH medium-risk categories, some of them probably make sense. Some of them make me a little bit concerned in terms of how they’re categorizing folks.” Read More

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Thursday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Public Schools to Start Vaccinations on Jan. 16 — “All FCPS employees will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine as a part of the Virginia Department of Health 1b group of other essential workers. All FCPS staff who wish to access the vaccine will have the opportunity to receive their first dose in the next three weeks.” [FCPS]

Metro Announces Inauguration-Related Service Changes — Metro will close 13 stations starting Friday (Jan. 15) through Jan. 21. Trains will operate according to a Saturday schedule, bypassing the closed stations, and 26 bus routes will be detoured around the security perimeter that law enforcement authorities have put in place for the Inauguration on Jan. 20. [WMATA]

Airbnb Cancels Reservations in D.C. Area — “Today, in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C., we are announcing that Airbnb will cancel reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the Inauguration week.  Additionally, we will prevent any new reservations in the Washington, D.C. area from being booked during that time by blocking such reservations.” [Airbnb]

Tysons-based Alarm.com Debuts No-Touch Video Doorbell — The video doorbell uses “video analytics to ring itself whenever it sees someone standing on your mat. That design eliminates the need for anyone to physically press a button, and the built-in camera and microphone let you talk with them through your phone without opening the door.” [CNET]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Updated at 1:10 p.m. on 1/19/2021 — Fairfax Connector announced today that the changes to its bus service for tomorrow’s inauguration have now been extended through Thursday (Jan. 21).

Fairfax Connector Routes 697 (Stringfellow Road Park and Ride – Downton D.C.) and 699 (Fairfax County Government Center – Foggy Bottom) will continue to operate as free shuttles to the Vienna Metrorail station through Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, adding an additional day to the service detour. Passengers should take the Metrorail Orange Line to complete their trip into Washington, D.C.  Fairfax Connector staff will continue to monitor road closures and make a determination about Friday as the week goes on.

Earlier: With only a week left until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Fairfax Connector announced that two bus routes will stop operating today (Wednesday) through Jan. 20 due to planned road closures in Washington, D.C.

Route 699, which normally travels between the Fairfax County Government Center and downtown D.C., will instead serve as a free shuttle to transport riders from the government center park and ride to the south entrance of the Vienna Metro station.

“The shuttles will leave the government center at the time on the schedule,” Fairfax Connector said in a tweet. “The shuttles will leave Vienna about 45 mins after their DC departure time with the goal of getting riders back to the P&R lot near their regularly scheduled arrival time.”

Fairfax Connector suggests Routes 631, 632, and 634 as travel alternatives for passengers on Route 697, which goes from the Stringfellow Road Park and Ride in Centreville to D Street SW in D.C. Routes 631, 632, and 634 all stop at the Stringfellow Park and Ride and the Vienna Metro station.

Fears that the violence that embroiled the U.S. Capitol last week could return during the lead-up to Inauguration Day have put the D.C. region on edge, prompting thousands of National Guard troops and federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to mobilize for the National Special Security Event.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay joined other local and state public officials in warning community members against traveling to downtown D.C. on the day of the inauguration and the days preceding it.

“Sadly, the terror that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was not a contained or isolated incident, and there is continued concern that similar violence is an ongoing threat to Americans and our democracy,” McKay said in a statement today.

The chairman says that the Fairfax County Police Department has been in contact with D.C. police about “the evolving situation” and has increased its presence in “key areas” of the county.

McKay advises residents to stay home if possible, avoid downtown D.C., and report any suspicious activity to police at 9-1-1 or the FCPD’s non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.

“Fairfax County will do all we can to help our partners in the region ensure a peaceful and safe transition of power on January 20, 2021 because that is the will of Fairfax County residents and the majority of Americans across the country,” McKay said.

Photo via Fairfax Connector/Facebook

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Fairfax County will receive an additional $34 million to provide emergency rental assistance to residents experiencing economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a budget policy committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday), Fairfax County Department of Management and Budget Director Christina Jackson told the county board of supervisors that the department has submitted a certification for the award, and the amount is expected to be confirmed today.

The money comes from a $25 billion emergency rental assistance program that the U.S. Treasury Department established using funds from the COVID-19 relief package that Congress passed at the end of December.

“This will be huge,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “I know we feel good about it, but obviously, there are a lot of folks out there struggling, and this will be a great opportunity to help those folks.”

Under the treasury program, renters may be eligible to receive assistance if at least one or more people in their household has experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic, are at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, or have a household income at or below 80% of the area median income.

Applicants can receive up to 12 months of assistance, with the possibility of an additional three months if needed to ensure housing stability and funds are still available.

The treasury is allocating the funds directly to states and local governments with more than 200,000 residents.

Jackson says the treasury is required to disperse all of the program funds by the end of January, so the county should have “dollars in hand” by the end of the month.

“We’re working with staff to try to incorporate this funding with other awards that we’ve received to make sure we’re using all the resources to our advantage,” Jackson said.

Because of the incoming grant, the Fairfax County Department of Management and Budget is recommending that the county increase its COVID-19 grants reserve by $50 million as part of its Fiscal Year 2021 mid-year budget review.

To offset anticipated revenue losses, the county plans to take $9.1 million out of a general fund reserve that the board of supervisors set up in May to support its coronavirus response efforts.

If the adjustment is approved, the COVID-19 reserve will have $16 million remaining, including roughly $12 million that the county mostly plans to use for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements.

As part of the mid-year review, Fairfax County staff are also recommending that the county create 13 new positions in the health department to boost its pandemic response, especially when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccination program. The positions would be initially covered by federal stimulus funds.

“We’re in constant contact with the health department relative to the continuous pivoting in response to COVID,” Fairfax County Chief Financial Officer Joe Mondoro said. “There are a number of other activities that they’re undertaking to respond to…whether that’s the need for additional contact tracers, whether that’s the escalation of the vaccination requirements.”

The board of supervisors will hold a public hearing and take action on the FY 2021 budget mid-year review when it meets on Jan. 26.

Photo via Fairfax County government/Facebook

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The new Scotts Run Fire Station 44 in Tysons is nearing the final stages of construction, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said yesterday (Tuesday).

Crews broke ground on the new station in September 2019. Work was previously expected to be finished by the end of 2020, but challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic led to some slight delays.

“There were delays but it wasn’t anything outside of what is to be expected with COVID affecting almost every aspect of the construction industry,” FCFRD Director of Public Information Ashley Hildebrandt said.

Located at 1766 Old Meadow Lane, the new Station 44 is intended to provide some relief to Station 29 (1560 Spring Hill Rd.), which also serves the Tysons area and is currently situated near the Spring Hill Metro station.

Approximately 13,852 square feet in size, the two-floor building will feature three vehicle bays, offices, living quarters for up to 12 crew members per shift, and restrooms that will be open to people utilizing nearby future athletic fields.

The McLean-based developer Cityline Partners committed to building the station and an off-site turf field as part of a proffer agreement with Fairfax County for its planned Scotts Run Station South mixed-use development. The station was designed by Samaha Associates and is being constructed by TRINITY Group Construction.

Fairfax County now anticipates that Station 44 will start hosting occupants this summer.

Station 29 is also expecting an upgrade.

Fairfax County started the process of procuring a contractor to build a replacement at 8300 Jones Branch Drive in McLean on Dec. 1. The new station will have two additional apparatus bays and improved living facilities for female workers. It will be co-located with a new bus facility at the Tysons West Park Transit Station.

Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Twitter

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Sheriff’s Deputy Dies in Jail COVID-19 Outbreak — “A veteran Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office deputy has died of covid-19 amid an outbreak of the coronavirus at the county jail that has sickened more than 30 guards and inmates in recent days, authorities said.” [The Washington Post]

Northern Virginia Critical Incident Response Team Launches — 11 local law enforcement agencies, including the police departments of Vienna and Falls Church City, have agreed to assist each other on investigations where an officer could face criminal charges, such as a shooting or in-custody death. [City of Falls Church]

How Office Development Rules Limit Walkability in Tysons — “While new developments in Tysons are improving the area’s density and walkability, some of them retain characteristics of the county’s historically suburban character. In particular, regulatory barriers prevent office development in Tysons from having the features of the most walkable pedestrian environments.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Hundreds of Residents Donated to Tysons Corner Blood Drives in 2020 — “The blood drives were wildly successful ultimately yielding 1,757 total blood donations helping over 5,200 patients get the necessary blood, plasma, and platelet transfusions needed to heal.” [Tysons Partnership]

Louise Archer Students Earn Honors in Vocabulary Competition — “Several teams representing Louise Archer Elementary achieved highest honors in the recent WordMasters Challenge™, a national vocabulary competition involving nearly 125,000 students annually.” [FCPS]

Staff photo by Angela Woolsey

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The Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce has big plans for 2021.

As offices shuttered and pivoted to remote work when COVID-19 hit Fairfax County last spring, the chamber became a vital source of information and resources for local businesses scrambling to stay afloat and adjust to a new reality.

Now, with vaccines suggesting a potential end to the pandemic, the chamber faces the task of helping members recover from a year of economic upheaval, while recognizing that some of the changes to the workforce and business landscape introduced by the novel coronavirus may be here to stay.

“This is going to be a big year in transition,” Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce board chairman Andrew Clark said in an interview on Jan. 4.

Like many of the businesses it represents, the chamber shifted its focus online last year in lieu of holding in-person meetings and events, but that did not make its schedule less busy.

Clark says the chamber organized more than 40 webinars last year on subjects ranging from brand management and networking to health protocols for businesses looking to reopen and ways that nonprofits could compensate for declines in charitable giving.

The organization hosted its signature Tysons 2050 event for the fourth year in a row, and it held the first-ever Tysons Restaurant Week in October. The initiative proved so successful that organizers are planning to revive it this spring.

Clark says the Tysons chamber will bring that same spirit of creativity and collaboration to the new year with initiatives like a Chocolate Safari that Visit Fairfax is currently promoting and a car show that is being organized with Tysons Corner Center.

A spokesperson for the mall confirmed that a car show is in the works, but the event is still in the preliminary planning stages. Clark says the chamber is tentatively aiming for a date around the end of February or early March.

“It’s a communal effect,” Clark said. “…The restaurants are supporting the buildings, the buildings are supporting the restaurants, and now that we have a sense of the community that’s coming to Tysons, it’s fun to be a part, as the chamber, of being a conduit for that.”

With a new board of directors set to be inducted on Thursday (Jan. 14), the chamber’s priorities for 2021 will include intensifying its focus on technology companies and government contractors, two industries that have a strong presence in Tysons, current board member Vicki Warker says.

The chamber will also continue working with companies that manage or provide services to commercial real estate as they prepare for a potential return of office workers while maintaining cleaning protocols and other health measures necessitated by COVID-19.

Clark says safety will be “paramount” to ensuring a successful transition to a new normal for Tysons. The chamber strives to keep members informed on everything from how to obtain personal protective equipment to the legal issues to consider when reopening a business.

“What’s relevant today? We try to position ourselves to get that information as quickly as we can to our constituents,” Clark said.

Photo by Michelle Goldchain

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In recognition of National Blood Donor Month, which occurs every January, volunteer fire departments throughout Fairfax County will partner with Inova Blood Donor Services to host blood drives this month.

While the need for blood donations is constant, it has become especially urgent in recent months after the COVID-19 pandemic made volunteers wary and prompted many blood drive cancellations last year.

“Due to current events, blood supplies in Fairfax County and the nation are at dangerously low levels and dropping,” the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said in a press release.

Inova Blood Donor Services says it must collect 200 units of blood per day in order to adequately support the community. The supply also needs to be continually renewed, because donated blood has a limited shelf life of 42 days.

Inova’s red blood cell inventory indicates that, as of Jan. 4, it is low on supplies for all blood types except for A negative.

The organization has implemented a number of precautionary measures to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 at blood donation events, including requiring staff to wear masks and suspending walk-ins to ensure social distancing can be maintained.

Here is the schedule for this month’s Fairfax County volunteer fire department blood drives:

  • Jan. 13, 1-7 p.m. — Burke Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, Fairfax County Fire Station 14. 9501 Old Burke Lake Rd., Burke, VA 22015. NOTE: One appointment left.
  • Jan. 19, 1-7 p.m. — McLean Volunteer Fire Department, Fairfax County Fire Station 1. 1455 Laughlin Ave McLean, VA 22101.
  • Jan. 25, 12:30-6:30 p.m. — Greater Springfield Volunteer Fire Department, Fairfax County Fire Station 22. 7011 Backlick Rd., Springfield, VA 22150.
  • Jan. 30, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. — Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, Fairfax County Fire Station 2. 400 Center Street South Vienna, VA 22180.

The drives will all take place in the individual station parking lots. Access to the fire stations will be prohibited “to help protect our firefighters and paramedics,” FCFRD says.

People interested in signing up to donate at any of the drives can register through the Inova Blood Donor Services website.

Images via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, Inova Blood Donor Services

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The McLean Citizens Association will continue discussing the possibility of turning McLean into a city for the foreseeable future.

The MCA board of directors approved the creation of a new community governance committee on Jan. 6 that has been tasked with studying the potential benefits and issues that would arise if McLean became independent of Fairfax County.

Chaired by William Henneberg, the ad hoc committee has been given a five-year charter that will last through December 2025, though it could be disbanded sooner if its work is finished before then.

“We’ve got a lot of investigation to do to identify issues, benefits and costs, etc.,” MCA President Rob Jackson said in an email to Tysons Reporter. “We have no preconceived notion that becoming a city or some other governmental entity is the best course. We are a ways from drawing any conclusions.”

Jackson initially proposed calling the committee a “City of McLean committee,” but the board agreed the adopted name would better reflect the open-endedness of the committee’s mission, helping avoid confusion.

“We have a lot of different things to investigate, first of all, but also a lot of other choices, including town status within Fairfax County or increased use of the sanitary district or a new county. There’s any number of things,” MCA corresponding secretary Paul Kohlenberger said.

Jackson introduced the idea of forming a committee to look at whether McLean should become a city during the board’s Dec. 2 meeting, but the question has been raised multiple times in the past.

According to Jackson, MCA previously explored issues related to McLean’s governmental structure in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’70s.

As Fairfax County’s population has surpassed 1.1 million people, community members in McLean have wondered whether a smaller form of government would give residents greater control and be more responsive to hyper-local concerns, such as infrastructure maintenance, zoning, and schools.

A moratorium on the creation of new cities in the Code of Virginia will expire on July 1, 2024.

While MCA has informally discussed the idea of turning McLean into a city with other local community groups in the past, the community governance committee will only explore the question internally for now.

“We would, of course, be open to communications with other community organizations that are also interested in investigating which form of government best serves our community,” Jackson said.

Photo via McLean Citizens Association/Facebook

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