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You’re cordially invited to the Town of Vienna’s holiday reception tomorrow (Friday) afternoon from 4-6 p.m. No RSVP necessary.

The reception will be held inside the Vienna Town Hall at 127 Center Street S. The annual party is scheduled to be attended by the Town Council, in case you’re one of the commenters with strong opinions on the school trailers or the log cabin removal discussed earlier this week.

The reception will include light refreshments and musical performances.

If you’re looking for more holiday festivities around Vienna, on Sunday (Dec. 16), The Insight Shop will host its annual Sing-Along on the Town Green at 144 Maple Ave E. The Sing-Along will run from 5-6 p.m. with hot beverages served to keep attendees warm.

Photo via Facebook

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) Enjoy the free street parking in Tysons while it lasts, because its days may be numbered.

At a Fairfax County Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) discussed plans to hire a professional parking consultant to explore parking management in Tysons and nearby Reston.

“The intent is to pilot parking management in these areas and expand to other areas as appropriate,” said Henri Stein McCartney, a transportation planner with FCDOT

McCartney said the goal of the study is to determine whether to implement on-street parking restrictions in Tysons and if so, what form those restrictions will take.

“The goal is timely turnover of spaces to encourage space availability,” said McCartney. “Numerous studies show motorists will circle [the] block searching for free on-street parking. [Parking restrictions] reduce number of cars searching for on-street parking. If paid for parking implemented, revenues could enforce parking rules.”

The study would also look at whether to implement paid parking or time restricted parking. Paid parking could take the form of a mobile kiosk or an app, like ParkMobile.

The second option would be time restricted parking, which could either be free or paid. However, McCartney said timed parking often requires more intensive enforcement efforts, with officers needed to monitor timed parking zones.

McCartney said FCDOT had not yet determined how much revenue paid parking could generate in Tysons.

FCDOT staff said the first area of study will be Tysons. Both the county’s comprehensive plan and urban design guidelines call for some form of “managed parking on future grid streets” in Tysons. FCDOT is apparently eyeing the new streets constructed at Boro development as some of the first “managed streets” in Tysons.

Implementation of paid parking in areas like the Reston Town Center has been controversial, to say the least.

McCartney said the study will have to also make sure the parking restrictions don’t push cars into the neighborhoods surrounding Tysons.

“This is inevitable, but it’s something we need to walk into very carefully,” said Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity. “Parking fees drive behavior. We have the real life example of Reston when they implemented those fees and all the angst it created… and loss of revenue.”

Herrity emphasized that any study of paid parking will have to involve close communication with the business community.

“The mistakes made in the past can be a helpful learning process,” said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.

Hudgins said one of the biggest lessons from the Reston Town Center parking fiasco that should be applied to Tysons is specifying the goals of parking management, like whether the paid parking is a way of raising revenue or managing transportation.

Even before the recommendations come in, the committee seemed supportive of some form of paid or timed parking restrictions. From Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova:

“Tysons is an urban area that is being developed. It’s important that we manage the parking. In most urban areas that is done. The last thing you want to happen would be people to park on the streets all day long as employees and then customers and people doing business in Tysons don’t have a place to park for a relatively short period of time. It is a complicated issue and we’re doing the right thing starting with a consulting study.”

The study will be measuring on-street and off-street parking supply and demand and model future demand based on approved development plans. In the end, it will recommend appropriate strategies and an implementation plan.

FCDOT staff said an update on the study will be given between six to nine months later, but the recommendations won’t be available for at least another year.

The estimated cost of parking study is $100,000.

Image via Fairfax County Department of Transportation

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Morning Notes

Building Near Spring Hill Metro Purchased — “Transwestern today announces it brokered the sale of Tysons Pond II, a 67,151-square-foot, free-standing office building located at 1604 Spring Hill Road in Tysons… A private investor purchased the 70 percent leased asset for $10 million.” [Citybizlist]

Nantucket Bay Scallops Season in Tysons — “Nantucket Bay scallops are in season and Eddie V’s of Tysons Corner has a special scallop dishes that are available for a limited time.” [WUSA 9]

Jerry Gordon Reflects on Retirement — “Jerry Gordon has two weeks left on his job as the president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Authority, and his office is so empty it echoes… After 31 years on the job, Gordon is transitioning out of a role that led Fairfax to become a superstar in economic development.” [Washington Business Journal]

More Silver Line Phase 2 Problems — “Hundreds of concrete rail ties installed at track crossovers along the second phase of the Silver Line are flawed, officials say, a problem that could further delay the multibillion-dollar rail project that is already 13 months behind schedule.” [Washington Post]

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Miss out on the past week of local news in Tysons, McLean and Vienna? Not a problem, our weekly top stories rundown can get you caught up quickly.

Below are the most-read stories on the site last week. We’ve noted any articles that have remained popular despite being published prior to last week.

You can also check out previous top stories here.

  1. Two New Stores Announced For Tysons Galleria
  2. Best Holiday Light Displays in Vienna and McLean
  3. Development Plans Include Outline for New Tysons Biergarten Location
  4. Taste of Urbanspace Opens in Tysons Galleria, Replacing Isabella Eatery
  5. New Jones Branch Connector Set to Partially Open Next Sunday
  6. A Look at Scotts Run, the Tysons Development That Apple Has Its Eye On (Nov. 14)
  7. Competitive Race to Replace Retiring Supervisor Smyth Kicks Off
  8. UPDATED: Wawa Coming to Vienna (Nov. 28)
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Vienna is purchasing new electronic signs that won’t just tell drivers if they’re going over the speed limit — it can send thank you messages to drivers who are going under the limit.

At the Vienna Town Council meeting on Monday, the council approved the purchase of eight new “SpeedAlert” display signs and new traffic management equipment from Herndon-based All Traffic Solutions.

Michael Gallagher, Director of Public Works for Vienna, said new GPS and feedback options make SpeedAlert signs an improvement to the existing speed indicator signs.

“Besides just giving you speed feedback, they collect speed and volume data as well,” said Gallagher. “That allows them to make instantaneous reports. They’re much more powerful than the equipment we currently have.”

Gallagher says the machines can be programed to flash strobe-lights or red and blue lights as a warning to speeding drivers.

“Three of the signs are a little larger and can be used for message boarding,” said Gallagher. “They could have a message if you’re speeding to show down or thank drivers for going the speed limit.”

The new signs cost a total of $59,477 and will supplement the existing supply of speed indicator signs.

“On a per dollar basis, this might be one of the best expenditures we have in terms of responding to citizen concerns and getting them what they want,” said Councilmember Pasha Majdi.

The new signs, which can also display non-speeding-related messages such as safety warnings, were unanimously approved by the council.

Photo via Facebook

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“Nothing in your hands. Obey commands.”

The Fairfax Police Department has released a short video via Facebook Live giving instructions on what to do if you find yourself in an active shooter situation.

Lt. Brian Ruck, a police officer from the Franconia District, said most shootings are over in around 10 minutes, ending either in “self termination” or law enforcement intervention. Ruck said most shootings are a single shooter, though law enforcement often gets reports of a second shooter in the chaos as a shooting starts.

Ruck encouraged people to follow the “Run, Hide, Fight” policy recommended by the Fairfax County Police Department.

“It’s a decision based model,” said Ruck. “Every situation is different, dynamic and complex. Unfortunately [we] can’t give viewers an exact answer to what they should do.”

If possible, Ruck says anyone in an active shooter situation should do their best to flee the area.

“Running away from bad situation is ideal,” Ruck said. “But they may have to hide if they can’t. Barricade the door. The last phase is fight. If you have to fight for your life, that’s what you need to do.”

Even once the police arrive, that isn’t always a guarantee of safety. In November, security guard Jemel Roberson was killed in Chicago by police who mistook him for the shooter. Ruck said it’s important to when police show up to empty your hands, show them to police officers and obey commands.

“Get on the ground and have nothing in your hands,” said Ruck. “Expect them to shout at you and have weapons drawn. People see that and it’s traumatic, but officers are going in with intention of stopping a threat… Nothing in your hands. Obey commands.”

If you’re hiding, Ruck says to remain in hiding until the police come and find you.

In the meantime, Ruck encouraged people to be aware of escape routes, hiding spaces, and potential weapons around them.

“Play the ‘what if’ game,” said Ruck. “If I had to fight for my life right now, what around me could I use to defend myself? How could I get out of here? What’s an alternate exit? Not just at work, do it at home with your kids.”

Ruck also encouraged anyone who knows of someone who shows signs of mental distress and might become violent to contact the police. Ruck said a common misconception is that police’s only response is to arrest the person in question. Ruck said police could also help respond to a mental crisis and get the person to care they need.

“We’re told frequently afterwards that people saw the signs, that there was someone exhibiting certain symptoms,” said Ruck. “These people were projecting this and no one called… if you see something, say something.”

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Local nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) and ridesharing app Lyft are again partnering to offer free rides during the holiday season.

As part of an effort to combat drunk driving, WRAP will be sponsoring free Lyft rides starting this Friday (Dec. 14) .

From 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., rides up to $15 are free with the use of a promo code. The user is responsible for any costs over $15. The offer will continue until Jan. 1.

Weekly codes will be posted at the Sober Rides website at noon on Dec. 14, 22, and 31. The weekly code is only valid for one ride.

According to the Virginia Highway Safety Office, there were 621 alcohol-related crashes in Fairfax in 2017, resulting in 331 injuries and 12 fatalities.

As the program is aimed at preventing alcohol related crashes, Lyft riders must be at least 21 years old to claim the offer. The code is valid for any rides inside the D.C. coverage area, which includes all of Fairfax County.

The SoberRide program operates during the December/January holiday season, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day and Halloween.

Image via Washington Regional Alcohol Program

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Fairfax County is currently mulling over changes to its sign ordinance that has schools, local realtors, and Tysons Corner Center concerned.

At a Planning Commission meeting last week, the commission deferred a decision on the new sign regulations until Jan. 16 to allow for more discussion on the impact of the ordinance.

Currently, county staff are reviewing changes to the zoning ordinance to make the language “content neutral.” The change is in response to the United States Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Reed vs. Town of Gilbert, which ruled that localities that define sign categories based on the message expressed, or content-based, is unconstitutional unless it furthers a compelling governmental interest.

Rather than allow free reign for Fairfax residents of businesses to erect signs regardless of content, a proposed amendment would tighten sign regulations across the board.

The proposed changes to the sign ordinance are wide-ranging but often minor corrections. One of the biggest changes is that one freestanding building identification sign is permitted for each detached building and such signs must be limited to identifying the name of the building or the individual enterprises located therein, the address, trademark or identifying symbol of the building occupant.

For instance, a real estate sign pointing to a nearby open house, but placed at the entrance to a subdivision, would be prohibited.

One of the proposed changes alters the definition of a sign from something “visible from the public right-of-way or adjoining property” to “visible from any street.” It’s a relatively small change, but any tampering with language in county ordinances could have a ripple effect. According to the staff documents, for instance, a representative of Tysons Corner Center expressed concerns about the impact of the change.

Tysons Corner Center currently has sign exemptions, allowing exceptions to current county rules, but these exemptions are based on the existing definitions of visibility from the public right-of-way or adjoining properties. As a result of these concerns, staff said new language was written into the proposed ordinance to allow greater flexibility.

According to county staff, minor signs — formerly referred to as temporary signs — were the largest challenge in the zoning ordinance rewrite.

“While staff acknowledges that the proposed language could negatively affect some developments that are currently exempt from regulation, we continue to recommend the language found in the draft text as it provides the closest level of regulation as the current provision.”

A representative from real estate investment company Macerich, which owns Tysons Corner Center, said at the meeting that the company had a laundry list of concerns but has been working with county staff to whittle those issues down. Another local realtor at the meeting said the new ordinance could push open house signs and corner signs off of local lawns and into already-crowded street medians.

The sign ordinance changes also sparked concern with the inclusion of language that would remove government exemptions from sign ordinances.

“Staff has received comments from both Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA), neither of which is in favor of eliminating the current exemption status. Of particular concern to the Park Authority is the limitation on the size, number and location of minor signs permitted for non-residential uses in a residential district. These signs are used to announce summer concert series, camps and other activities at the parks. The schools have raised concerns with the proposed height of permitted freestanding signs for non-residential uses in residential districts which is proposed to be limited to 8 feet in height.”

As a result, staff said at the Planning Commission meeting that there would be modifications to the ordinance allowing some exceptions for schools and parks.

Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner said at the meeting he was generally in favor of holding Fairfax County government to many of the same sign regulations as the public.

“There’s something to be said with us being able to model our behavior consistent with what we expect from the private sector,” said Niedzielski-Eichner. “There is a different benefit to be realized to the public with the park authority and public school [having] latitude with signs, but frankly I’m comfortable with them doing it within a regulatory context… not unfettered.”

Photo via Flickr/Alan Levine

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After 18 months of renovation, the McLean Community Center’s arts venue will be returning in January.

The Alden Theatre is reopening early next month with a full season of all-ages theatrical performances. Tickers are currently on sale.

“We’re looking forward to being back in the community’s beloved venue,” Performing Arts Director Sarah Schallern said in a press release. “The inside of the theater hasn’t been renovated; however, the rest of MCC will have amenities that will make the audience experience so much nicer.”

A schedule of performances is below.

  • Jan. 5: The Capitol Steps — SOLD OUT
  • Jan. 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration — a musical blend of jazz and hip-hop. Tickets are $25 or $15 for McLean residents.
  • Feb. 2: The Wizard of Oz — A children’s theater production of the classic story. Tickets are $15 or $10 for McLean residents.
  • Feb. 23: The Okee Dokee Brothers — The Grammy Award Winning folk musicians will perform a concert for children and parents. Tickets are $20 or $15 for McLean residents.
  • Feb. 24: Perspectives Speaker Series — Crime novelist Walter Mosley will host a free lecture and book signing.
  • March 23: The Joshua Show — A puppet show take on Mr. Rogers with live music and “hipster appeal”. Tickets are $15 or $10 for McLean residents.
  • March 30, 31: American Shakespeare Center — The travelling theater show will perform Antigone, The Comedy of Errors, and The Winter’s Tale over two days. Tickets are $40 or $30 for McLean residents.
  • May 4: New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players — A performance mixing rewritten Gilbert and Sullivan songs as well as the original versions. Tickets are $40 or $30 for McLean residents.
  • May 11: All the Way Live — An interactive show where hip-hop artists remix various dances, rhymes and music. Tickets are $15 or $10 for McLean residents.

Photo via Facebook

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Morning Notes

I-66 Tolls Shifted Behavior, Did Not Improve Traffic — “The new high-occupancy toll lanes on one of the busiest highways in the Washington region have sparked dramatic shifts in commuter behavior, prompting motorists to alter their commute times and routes, data show, while yielding tolls as high as $47.50 — some of the highest per mile in the country.” [Washington Post]

‘Green’ Vienna Businesses Recognized — “Nine Vienna businesses who have successfully completed the Town’s 2018 Sustainability Challenge were recognized at last night’s Town Council meeting… Through the program, certified businesses tally points on a checklist of green practices that they undertake as part of day-to-day operations.” [FairfaxNews]

Local Restaurants Open On Christmas — Staying in town for the holidays and planning to dine out? Patch has compiled a list of McLean, Vienna and Tysons restaurants that are planning to remain open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. [Patch, Patch]

Rough Night for Silver Line Commuters — Those heading home on the Silver Line last night faced delays, offloading and other issues during the evening commute due to a track problem outside of Foggy Bottom. [Twitter, Twitter]

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