Newsletter
Office complex at 7700 Leesburg Pike in Tysons (via Google Maps)

The Fairfax County Planning Commission will vote on the possibility of converting a Tysons office building into residential use when it meets this Wednesday (Oct. 6).

The decision for the building at 7700 Leesburg Pike follows the commission’s deferral of a decision on the potential plan amendment during a Sept. 29 public hearing.

EYA Development submitted a rezoning application and development plan for the 6.7-acre site to redevelop the property on Dec. 15 before it was accepted by the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning on March 5.

Under the developer’s proposal, the site would be converted to 80 to 107 single-family attached units or stacked townhomes. The site currently houses a 167,274-square foot office building that was constructed in 1976.

In a presentation to the planning commission during last week’s public hearing, county planner Stephen Waller stated that staff considered a range of factors related to the amendment, including:

  • Land use compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods
  • Quality of active and passive open space
  • Tree preservation and transitional buffers
  • Storm water management
  • Multimodal connectivity
  • Historic resources

Waller added that staff recommends approving the plan amendment “to allow for an option for the property to develop with residential use with single-family attached dwellings or stacked townhomes.”

The recommendation comes with several proposed conditions, including a maximum height of four stories with siding design elements and landscaping to make the property compatible with adjacent low-density residential neighborhoods, as well as high-quality, well-designed, attractive, and publicly accessible open space and site amenities.

Other staff recommendations include:

  • Preservation of existing healthy and mature trees along boundaries
  • Supplement buffers year-round for screening visual to adjacent residences
  • Stormwater management controls above the minimum standards
  • Safe and conveniently access to existing and planned multimodal options
  • Document existing office for significance prior to demolition

Mark Looney, a partner with the Cooley law firm, spoke on behalf of EYA at the public hearing. He said the developer is working to address requests from the Pimmit Hills Civic Association (PHCA) for pedestrian improvements and upgrades are being addressed, but the PHCA and McLean Citizen’s Association have both offered general support for the proposal.

“The plan amendment contemplates a significant open space component,” he added.

Under the developer’s rezoning application, approximately 36% of the site has been reserved for either open space or urban park land that will be accessible to both residents of the development and residents of the surrounding communities. The public space plans include a fitness trail, small dog walk, and playground area.

EYA has also made provisions for a future expansion of Route 7, including the bus rapid transit proposal that will be brought to the commission later in the fall, according to Looney.

During the public hearing, Commissioners John Ulfelder and Mary Cortina sought further explanation of the stormwater management standards that have been proposed for the site.

According to Waller, staff’s condition that the stormwater management be above the county’s minimum standards was made in recognition of existing conditions of the Pimmit Run watershed and flooding in the area.

Looney said two quantity facilities have been proposed for the site — a vault along Route 7 and a set of chambers in the northeast portion of the property — that would capture water before releasing it at a slower rate than current conditions. A series of other filter devices across the property would also improve the quality of water that’s released.

However, he added that he would require engineers for the company to further explain the water management efforts in more specific detail following the hearing.

Photo via Google Maps

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Capital One Hall is ready for its public debut.

The 125,000-square-foot performing arts venue at 7750 Capital One Tower Road in Tysons features a 1,600-seat performance hall, a 225-seat black box theatre, an atrium space for events and weddings with room for 500 people at tables, and an adjoining terrace with a standing capacity of 450.

The building’s façade is wrapped by a glass and Italian Carrera marble while the venue is topped by The Perch — a rooftop green space featuring a stage, Starr Hill Biergarten, and additional event space that opened in August.

“These openings are really a pathway to the future,” Capital One Hall Executive Director Dolly Vogt said at a media preview tour on Tuesday (Sept. 28). “It’s going to bring so much vibrancy and energy to the community…Theaters or arenas, venues like this really do help drive so much. It’s an economic driver in the community; it drives the arts in the community.”

The venue will host its inaugural performance on Friday (Oct. 1) at 8 p.m., courtesy of Grammy, Tony, and Emmy Award-nominated singer, songwriter, and actor Josh Groban. The country band Little Big Town will round out the grand opening weekend with its 2021 Nightfall Tour on Saturday and Sunday.

Since announcing its first booking in June, the venue has filled out its first season through May 2022 with a mix of shows, from pop stars and comedians to local orchestras. Next season’s events are in the midst of being finalized.

“You’ve got a world class entertainment venue that also serves the community,” said Bob Papke, vice president of theaters for ASM Global, which operates Capital One Hall.

“You can see ‘Waitress’ on one night, and you can go see the Fairfax Symphony on another night and a local dance troupe a night after that in this environment and this space, and they’re all sharing the stage and we’re all sharing the experience.”

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra will be the first local group to perform in the venue on Oct. 9. The scheduled Broadway shows include the musicals “Waitress” from Oct. 29-31, “Fiddler on the Roof” from March 11-13, and “An Officer And A Gentleman” from May 13-15.

“Working with Capital One, it’s a Fortune 100 company, and you have ASM, which is the leader in facility management worldwide, we’re going to be interacting with not only the major promoters, but we’re going to be interacting with those local arts groups,” Papke said.

Community groups that use Capital One Hall are vetted by the nonprofit ArtsFairfax as part of Capital One’s development agreement with Fairfax County, which also includes a subsidized rate for local organizations.

“We’re going to be able to help them not only from the artistic side by giving them this great space to perform in, but also help them on the business side…helping those organizations with their marketing, their finance, with their long-range planning so that they continue to be a viable arts organization and continue to grow,” Papke said.

The venue will require patrons to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours before an event. Masks are also required for everyone ages 12 and up.

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Celebree School of Tysons-Jones Branch owners Brian and Kate Mulcahy hold groundbreaking ceremony at Valo Park in McLean on March 31 (staff photo by Scott Fields)

The first Virginia franchise location of the Celebree School has officially opened in Tysons.

Focusing on early childhood education, the Celebree School of Tysons-Jones Branch serves infants through pre-kindergarten children. It is located on Valo Park’s 16-acre campus at 7950 Jones Branch Drive and operates from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“Tysons was the perfect community for us to open our first Celebree School. It is a vibrant neighborhood with both a residential and business presence,” Tysons franchisees Kate and Brian Mulcahy said in an email.

“We love that we can support the families who live and work in the area and as McLean natives ourselves we enjoy supporting our hometown. Valo Park provides us with extensive campus for our students to explore with varied natural and artistic elements. The children love visiting the koi ponds, sculptures and plant life all around us. We also love that our school has many unique architectural and design elements that the Valo Park location provides.”

The location — which is open for interested parents to tour — provides full-time programs for infants and toddlers, as well as full and part-time programs for its preschool programs. At this time, a school-age program is not in the franchise’s near-term plans.

“Our curriculum gives children the opportunity to explore their own interests to develop pre-academic skills and encourages the use of imagination,” the Mulcahys said. “Our use of classroom management philosophy is to empower children so every child can develop confidence in their interactions with others.”

The Celebree School announced on April 21, 2020, that it had signed a franchise agreement with the Mulcahys to open a center in Fairfax or Arlington county. The couple signed a lease agreement with Valo Park on Nov. 10 and held a groundbreaking ceremony for the location on March 31.

Founded in 1994 in Lutherville, Maryland, Celebree School began franchising in 2019 and now has over 40 locations in 12 states that are open or under development, adding franchises in New York, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

“We chose to partner with Celebree because we are excited to deliver the best possible early childhood education to our students,” the Mulcahys said.

“Celebree has a truly unique and specialized approach to early childhood education. As an independently owned and operated Celebree School, we have an opportunity to meet each student where they are as they experience social and emotional growth and gain pre-academic skills.”

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The McLean Community Center Governing Board will hold a public hearing tonight (Wednesday) on its proposed budget for fiscal year 2023. The board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at MCC’s 1234 Ingleside Avenue facility.

While COVID-19 has been a source of difficulty, the proposed $6.3 million FY 2023 budget is based on “assuming operations will be under normal conditions for the full year,” according to proposed budget draft.

Program revenue for FY 2021 was $929,000 lower than the adopted budget, though MCC also saved roughly $1 million in operating expenses.

The community center continues to be challenged by the effects of the pandemic in the current fiscal year 2022. Program and event registration has increased, with alternate and virtual programs still being made available, but safety precautions still require lower occupancy limits.

For FY 2023, the proposed revenue projections are as follows:

  • Real estate tax: $5.2 million
  • Interest on investments: $20,000
  • Rec class fees — instructional programs: $467,300
  • Special events: $53,400
  • Performing arts — theatre: $114,550
  • Youth program fees: $138,910
  • Old Firehouse Teen Center: $212,500
  • Visual arts activity fees: $0
  • Miscellaneous (facility rentals, ad revenue, etc.): $89,325

The proposed budget would cover 389 recreational classes, 169 performing arts events, seven youth events, and 14 special events, including a Fourth of July celebration, McLean Day, and the annual McLean 5K.

MCC’s summer camps are also expected to generate $126,000 at full capacity.

Operating expenses addressed by the budget include the annual operation of the center and regular costs of facility maintenance, utilities, instructor fees, theatre productions, and operating costs for events. The personnel expenses include salaries, as well as taxes and benefits.

Preliminary projections for expenses include the following:

  • Administrative service: $974,115
  • Facilities services: $864,365
  • Public information: $508,947
  • Recreational class — instructional programs: $771,737
  • Special events: $633,746
  • Performing arts — theatre: $1,539,733
  • Youth program: $353,555
  • Teen center: $696,629
  • Visual arts activity: $25,000

Capital improvement projects on the docket for FY23 include electric vehicle charging stations, shade and sails, a community mural, and $750,000 to renovate the community center’s roof.

The governing board is scheduled to approve an FY23 budget when it meets on Oct. 27.

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Now-closed Container Store at 8508 Leesburg Pike (photo by Michelle Goldchain)

Updated at 10:15 a.m. on 9/24/2021 — The community event venue at the former Container Store will be called The PARC, Celebrate Fairfax announced on Sept. 17.

Earlier: After this weekend, the former Container Store in Tysons will no longer be known as just “the former Container Store.”

The county-owned, 19,260-square-foot site with 95 parking spaces at 8508 Leesburg Pike is being transformed into a community hub and venue for local events through a collaborative effort between Fairfax County, Tysons Partnership, and Celebrate Fairfax Inc.

Tomorrow (Friday), Celebrate Fairfax and participating vendors will host another Tysons Block Party from 4 to 8 p.m., during which a new name will be announced for the venue. The name was chosen based on an online poll that Celebrate Fairfax conducted across its social media accounts.

“Activating this site is part of a multifaceted community building process in Tysons that recognizes the importance of placemaking,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said. “Having spaces like the one at 8508 Leesburg Pike in Tysons allows us to build social infrastructure, in addition to the built infrastructure that continues to grow.”

Singer Caz Gardiner is scheduled to perform at the event with a collections of vendors such as Settle Down Easy Brewing Co., Zainy’s Flyin’ Grill and Hangry Panda present.

In addition to a new name, the site will get a facelift in the near future with a mural by artist Rodrigo Pradel. Before work begins on the mural, however, Tysons Partnership is soliciting the community for input on the design with an online survey.

“The upcoming events in this space, including the Tysons Block Party and the mural live painting event, are just two of many opportunities for the Tysons community to share experiences, and make new connections, right here in Tysons,” Palchik said.

“This site can be a leader in facilitating in-person experiences, and a model for placemaking around our county,” she added.

After the Container Store relocated to 8459 Leesburg Pike in 2018, the county acquired the site in 2019 for $16.6 million with an eye toward utilizing it to support community innovation and entrepreneurship.

The county received a variety of proposals for the use of the site prior to the pandemic, including a suggestion from development officials to use it for community events.

However, during the pandemic, the building was adapted for emergency use. Over the past year, it has been used as a storage site for personal protective equipment, and it was designated as a hypothermia shelter from Dec. 1 through April 1.

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Bloomie’s is officially opening for business.

Bloomingdale’s smaller, more curated retail concept will welcome its first customers at noon today (Thursday) to kick off a three-day grand opening event in Merrifield’s Mosaic District. The 22,000 square-foot store is the first Bloomie’s to open in the country.

“We’re excited to introduce ‘Bloomie’s,’ our all-new store concept that brings the energy of Bloomingdale’s to a smaller style and service destination,” said Susan Cannaday, the general manager for Bloomingdale’s Tysons Corner location and the new Bloomie’s store.

Cannaday says Bloomie’s is “designed to create a sense of discovery,” with a curated, rotating assortment of merchandise that includes contemporary and luxury brands for clothing, cosmetics, shoes, handbags, jewelry, and other beauty items and accessories.

According to a press release, women’s apparel brands include Ganni, Staud, Maje, Rag & Bone, Cult Gaia, Jonathan Simkhai STANDARD, LoveShackFancy, Moussy, Mother, FRAME, RE/DONE, and AQUA. Meanwhile, the men’s apparel, shoes, and accessories sections include brands like Vince, Helmut Lang, Salomon, Barbour, and McQ.

To mark the store’s launch, Bloomingdale’s is also reintroducing a “Bloomie’s” brand. The first collection includes 35 special pieces from varsity jackets to combat boots to a special edition Zippo lighter. It will be available at Bloomie’s, Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship, and online.

“We were strategic in selecting the right categories and brands that reflect the local lifestyle, and offer services that meet our customers’ needs,” Cannaday said. “Whether you’re exploring the latest fashion and beauty trends, grabbing a bite at Colada Shop or working with a stylist, all of this can be done at Bloomie’s.”

Bloomie’s also features a new location for the D.C.-based Colada Shop, a restaurant that specializes in cocktails, coffee, and Cuban-inspired food.

Services offered at the store include a returns drop box, curbside pickup, and an option to pick up online purchases in-person. A customization desk provides personalization, monogramming, and alteration services.

“Bloomie’s is designed to be a more convenient and casual concept that fits into our customer’s everyday lifestyle,” Bloomingdale’s CEO Tony Spring said in the press release. “With our staff of stylists, omni services, lively restaurant, and elevated assortment, Bloomie’s can be their favorite neighborhood store.”

While today is the official opening, Bloomingdale’s started introducing its Bloomie’s concept to the Mosaic District neighborhood earlier this month with a pop-up at the Sunday FRESHFARM markets. Cannaday says they were “thrilled with the engagement we’ve seen from the local community.”

EDENS, the Mosaic District developer and property owner, says it is excited about the partnership with Bloomingdale’s to launch “a bold new concept.”

“Consumer preferences continue to evolve, but retail’s role in bringing people together remains fundamentally unchanged,” EDENS CEO Jodie McLean said in the press release. “Bloomie’s is designed to engage people and will serve more as a hub for experiences, with a focus on fashion.”

Bloomingdale’s existing presence in the Tysons area made the Mosaic District an appropriate place to introduce the Bloomie’s concept, according to Cannaday.

“We have two powerful existing Bloomingdale’s stores in the area with our Chevy Chase and Tysons Corner locations, so Bloomie’s enters a market where customers know our brand,” she said. “We chose this location within Mosaic District…because it provides an approachable and convenient location for the local communities.”

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A rendering of the interior of the upcoming Bloomie’s store in the Mosaic District (courtesy Bloomingdale’s)

Bloomingdale’s is set to open its first-ever Bloomie’s in Merrifield.

Bloomie’s — a smaller, curated fashion and beauty store concept — will open to the public tomorrow (Thursday) at 10 a.m. in the Mosaic District.

According to a media alert, the store will host a three-day block party to kick off its grand opening, which will continue through Saturday. The festivities will begin at noon and run through 6 p.m. each day.

The party will be open to the public and will feature life-size outdoor games, beauty demonstrations, complimentary customization services with a Bloomie’s purchase, and various family-friendly activities, including sketch artists and a balloon artist.

In addition, the adjoining Colada Shop will serve happy hour food and drink specials from 3 to 6 p.m. during the party. Visitors can also get a ticket for a complimentary gift at the new clothing store.

The grand opening events will be hosted in cooperation with SafeSpot Children’s Advocacy Center of Fairfax County, Inova Health Foundation, McLean Project for the Arts, and When We All Vote.

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Renovations for the first phase of improvements at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts have been completed.

The renovations include the introduction of permanent, roofed wooden pavilions that replace temporary tents that covered the park’s Ovations restaurant, Encore Circle Lounge, and associates and terrace decks. The old temporary vinyl tents had to be erected each spring and taken down in fall.

Each of the new structures were constructed out of Douglas fir and designed to match the Filene Center, a 7,000-seat outdoor amphitheater.

The finished renovations were revealed Thursday (July 29) during a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, the nonprofit that partners with the National Park Service to provide concerts and other programming at the park.

“This day has been five years in the making,” Wolf Trap Foundation President and CEO Arvind Manocha said. “Five years ago, we convened a group of leadership of the foundation and our partners at the National Park Service to consider this park’s needs and reflect carefully on how to bring Wolf Trap into the next half century as a national beacon for the performing arts.”

Each of the renovated pavilions retained the open-air concepts that distinguish Wolf Trap, and they are intended to enhance the park experience for the performance season and encourage a greater year-round use of the park than what was possible with the tents.

Additional announced enhancements include a replacement of the Filene Center’s over 20-year-old audio systems and the renovation of the backstage artist areas.

Funded with money that the foundation raised from private donors, the renovation project coincides with Wolf Trap’s 50th anniversary, which it celebrated on July 1.

“These projects were funded by members of our board, led by a group of visionary donors who stepped forward to ensure that we could move quickly and decisively,” Manocha said.

The renovations fall in conjunction with upgrades being performed by the National Park Service. Those upgrades include security upgrades, the installation of new fencing, and electrical infrastructure improvements.

The park service is also looking at some more substantial updates, such as a new pedestrian tunnel, as part of a proposed amendment to Wolf Trap’s master plan. The NPS detailed its plans in a virtual meeting on May 25 and closed a public comment period for a required environmental assessment on June 25.

Wolf Trap National Park Acting Superintendent Ken Bigley says finished and planned upgrades illustrate the National Park Service and Wolf Trap Foundation’s shared commitment to ensuring that visitors “have a memorable, amazing experience” at the park.

“We are in this business for the long term,” Bigley said. “We wanted to build advocacy for a love of the performing arts, for a love of the importance of live music and dance, a love of public lands.”

Dan D’Aniello, who chairs the Wolf Trap Foundation board of directors, closed out the ribbon-cutting event by challenging everyone in attendance to continue to “embrace what needs to be done to ensure that this asset remains viable and dear to not only us, but all people.”

“We are deeply, deeply proud of our friendship and partnership with the National Park Service, both from cultural perspective in artistic programming and from a financial perspective in our role as philanthropic partner,” D’Aniello said. “We are and we will continue making good on our promises to advance the potential of Wolf Trap.”

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The redevelopment of the former Macy’s box store at Tysons Galleria is almost ready for the public, paving the way for the addition of a movie theater, a bowling alley, and other retailers.

Brookfield Properties, which owns the mall, is in the process of breaking up the 260,000 square-foot space that housed the former 30-year old department store into smaller spaces for approximately 10 retailers.

“What the inspiration here was, we wanted people to feel comfortable spending time and sitting, not just shopping,” John Cournoyer, executive vice president of construction, design and development for Brookfield Properties, said on Wednesday (July 28). “So, we wanted…people being able to dwell, do other things, meet people, extend the day.”

Work continues on the exterior façade of a Crate and Barrel that will occupy one of the retail locations, but it is expected that construction will be completed by the end of the year. The spaces are fully leased and will open in a rolling capacity over the next six months.

“Each retailer will have its own timing and ability to open and move quickly throughout the project,” said Chris Pine, executive vice president of anchors, big box leasing and development for Brookfield.

Brookfield had considered opening the whole space at the same time but decided a more gradual approach would work better.

“You could in one strategy wait until everybody is done and turn the switch on and everybody opens up,” Pine said. “But we like the idea of just rolling through it and then, month after month, there’s a new retailer, something new happening, adding to the overall excitement and enthusiasm for the project.”

As part of the redevelopment, Arhaus opened a new showroom for its artisan furniture and home decor today (Friday). The store was previously located on the other side of Route 123 at Tysons Corner Center, according to a press release.

Other new tenants include the interior design store RH, a CMX CinéBistro theater that will occupy the top of the three-level space, and a Bowlero on the bottom floor.

The expected completion date for the overall project is the end of March or early April 2022 as tenants build out their individual spaces after the stores are enclosed.

In addition to the retail space, there is a central area between retailers designed for people “to rest and relax” with a bevy of amenities, such as plug-ins “for people that want to charge their phone or work on their laptop,” according to Mark DeCapri, senior vice president of planning and design for Brookfield.

DeCapri added that the design plans are meant to provide “something unique” with varied lighting, different types of spaces, and unique elements like a moss feature on the center area’s ceiling. At the end of the wing, glass allows natural light in at the future Crate and Barrel site.

In the works since Macy’s closed in January 2019, the project will also give the mall a new outdoor plaza with seating and landscaping, including a live green wall. The streetscape is intended to blend in with the existing mall and enhance customer convenience.

“I think when you go out to the original mall, the spaces are of vast scale and they feel very good. They’re sun-lit, and it’s a different feeling than you get here,” DeCapri said.

“So, this wing was looked at as another place for people to really come if they wanted a more intimate space to sit. You can sit out in the mall and it’s a fine experience, but if you’re trying to move a little way more to a living room setting, this is really a unique instance of having that available to the public.”

In terms of sustainability, Brookfield recycled 7,860 tons of material — 88% of the materials used in the construction of the redevelopment.

“One of the things that we evaluated very early on was saving this building. It would have been easier to tear it down, but we decided that we didn’t want to have all those materials end up in a landfill,” DeCapri said. “…Both those things were very important to us.”

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via Fairfax County

The Countywide Strategic Plan meant to establish a community-driven vision for Fairfax County for the next 10 to 20 years is edging closer to an expected adoption by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The county hosted a community update and feedback session on Wednesday (July 21) to gather feedback about potential indicators for success among nine priority areas listed in the proposed 56-page strategic plan.

It was part of the fourth phase of engagement initiated by the county. Two rounds were held in 2019 before the process was paused in 2020 to evaluate COVID-19 impacts. Two additional phases were added for 2021, with the third survey phase wrapping up in April.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to take action in October, according to countywide strategic plan coordinator Aimee Brobst, who led the meeting.

While there are no outreach plans to solicit direct public comments on the final text before it is presented to the board, Brobst said community engagement will continue after the plan is adopted. At that point, the county’s approach will “likely shift” to a more targeted focus on each priority area in addition to seeking feedback on the plan as a whole.

“We definitely want to use the feedback that we’re collecting here for the purpose of informing the strategic plan,” Brobst said. “But as we look forward, beyond even when the plan is adopted by the Board of Supervisors, we want to make sure that this isn’t something that stops once the plan is adopted, and we are being very thoughtful and very intentional about hearing from as many people as possible as we move forward.”

The nine priority areas of the plan include:

A poll to gauge attendees’ preferred focus areas within those categories found particular interest in access to cultural and recreational opportunities; economic stability and mobility for all people; financial sustainability and trustworthiness; and access and utilization of services.

Other top indicators were air, water and land quality; housing affordability and quality; career-based training and early childhood education; accessibility, affordability and equity for mobility and transportation; and reliability and security of critical infrastructure.

County staff noted that the plan is meant to be flexible with the ability to adapt over time, serving as a template to help the board determine its priorities and understand what community members think is important.

Acknowledging the rather sparse attendance at the meeting, Brobst said that the shift to virtual meetings over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the county to rethink and expand the tools it uses to engage the public.

“In addition to everything we’re doing that we think makes sense — using every channel that we have available to us as the county — we are very open to adapting,” Brobst said. “…One of the things we definitely wanted to do as part of this process is not necessarily do things just the same way as they’ve always been done in terms of doing only in-person meetings or doing just surveys or long-form surveys.”

A form for general questions or feedback for the plan is available at the bottom of the strategic plan page on the county’s website.

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