Tysons, VA

A trio of Fairfax County Board Supervisors has pushed for the establishment of the Affordable Housing Preservation Task Force.

The task force was created through a board matter during a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on July 28. Chairman Jeff McKay and supervisors John Foust, Dalia Palchik, who represent the Dranesville and Providence districts, noted that the task force is essential in order to preserve affordable housing, especially as older multifamily rental and mobile home communities are threatened by demolition or redevelopment.

“These trends are slowly eroding the county’s market affordable housing stock and forcing families and individuals out of the communities where they work,” the board matter states.

The move comes as the county continues discussions on ways to improve its affordable housing and workforce dwelling unit policies. In 2016, the board calls for the development of a housing strategic plan that offers guidance on how to strengthen and preserve affordable housing.

According to an analysis by the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech, there are 9,500 housing units in Fairfax County that are considered market affordable and target households earning 60 percent of the area median income and below.

The county is aiming to ensure that no market affordable housing units in the county are lost — a recommendation provided by the board-created Affordable Housing Resources Panel.

The board matter calls on the task force to develop a comprehensive preservation plan. The task force will provide recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on the following issues by the end of the first quarter of 2021:

  • “Definitions for the types of preservation that can occur in communities;
  • typology of properties at risk and characteristics to guide prioritizing properties or
  • neighborhoods in need of action sooner; and
  • a comprehensive set of preservation strategies that includes recommended policies and
  • tools to achieve the county goal of no net loss of affordability.”

“The way to ensure no net loss is through clear articulation of preservation strategies,” the board matter states.

The task force will include a variety of stakeholders, including the private sector, county officers and local planners.

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The Fairfax County Park Authority Board plans to present an award to Meridian Group for helping to create Quantum Field in Tysons.

The Meridian Group, which is behind the new Tysons development called The Boro, teamed up with the county’s Board of Supervisors and Park Authority to transform a former parking area into Quantum Field as a proffer agreement for The Boro.

The multisport athletic field fits into the vision for “a robust park system” in Tysons, according to the county’s announcement about the award on Tuesday (July 28).

The development company will receive the Harold L. Strickland Partnership and Collaboration Award, which is named after a former Park Authority board member and honors teamwork to add state-of-the-art facilities, during a virtual ceremony in November.

More from the county:

Through this unique partnership between developers and park planners, Meridian agreed Quantum Field would be operated by the Park Authority and built in accordance with FCPA standards. The agreement stipulated that Meridian would maintain ownership of the property and grant an easement to the FCPA, outlining the terms of maintenance and operation of the field. This partnership allowed Meridian and FCPA to overcome challenges with the site related to utility easements and the field’s location adjacent to the Capital Beltway.

The field, which opened in 2019, is built with synthetic turf and has a playing surface of 180 feet by 360 feet. It offers play for five sports and includes black vinyl perimeter chain-link fencing, concrete walkways, bleacher pads, parking lot lighting, sound-containing walls and landscaping.

Because it was built with synthetic turf, Quantum Field allows for year-round use and is not affected by weather to the degree of natural turf fields. Lighting allows for extended use into the evening hours. Concrete walkways make it accessible for all; landscaping enhances its aesthetic appearance; and the sound barriers benefit area residents who are not using the field.

The field, along with the county’s other athletic fields, is open for organized and permitted use as long as people follow COVID-19 guidelines from the governor, local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the county.

Synthetic fields can accommodate up to 250 people as long as people keep 10 feet away from each other when possible and officials, coaches and players undergo a COVID-19 screening before entering the fields.

Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority/Flickr

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Fairfax County confirmed it is still mandatory for all students enrolling in Fairfax County Public Schools to receive their required immunizations, despite the school year starting virtually. 

The county’s health department is providing nine additional community childhood vaccination clinics and encouraging families to take advantage of free vaccination opportunities before the start of the school year, according to the Fairfax County Emergency Information website

Required vaccinations protect against life-threatening illnesses such as polio, measles, whooping cough and chickenpox, according to the website. Additionally, incoming seventh-graders need a booster dose of the Tdap vaccine, and preteens need vaccines to protect against diseases such as HPV. 

Only a select number of appointments will be available at community vaccination clinics to ensure safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To schedule an appointment, call 703-246-6010, TTY 711. Clinics encourage families to send a picture of their child’s vaccination records to decrease face-to-face time at the clinic.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

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Updated 3:15 p.m. — The article previously said it was Supervisor Lusk instead of Storck. 

Inspired by nearby jurisdictions’ efforts, Fairfax County officials want to expand its compost pilot to benefit residents.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck shared during the Environmental Committee meeting yesterday that the county staff is pushing for new ideas to reuse compost.

“Arlington, D.C., Montgomery — a lot of them are already doing this kind of thing,” Storck said. “This is a limited pilot.”

Arlington CountyD.C. and the City of Alexandria collect compost at farmers markets. Meanwhile, Montgomery County offers compost bins.

According to county documents, Storck would ask the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) to research and report back on options to bring the county’s internal compost pilot to the public.

Some preliminary ideas include placing “green” compost bins next to the purple bins for glass recycling, collecting compost at farmers markets and school sites and providing compost materials at the I-95 Landfill Complex & I-66 Transfer Station, according to a county document.

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw said that he wants the county to share more information about backyard composting.

“The ideal scenario would be that all of us in the county who have a backyard in which to compost would do that there rather than getting in their car and transporting it somewhere else,” Walkinshaw said, adding that people who live in apartments or don’t have backyards would benefit from the compost bins.

“I’d be concerned about having an unstaffed location for things that could collect that become then a dump site,” Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said.

Gross noted the glass recycling bins are regularly staffed: “So far with our purple cans, it’s been great.”

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said she supports the pilot idea and agrees with her fellow supervisors that the county should look into staffing and education around the pilot program.

Storck said he plans to bring forward a board matter next week with green initiatives that will include the compost bins.

Photo via Seth Cottle/Unsplash

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Mask Mandate Here to Stay — “Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Monday afternoon secured the defeat of a petition for a preliminary injunction submitted by anti-mask forces in the state seeking to undo Gov. Ralph Northam’s mitigation efforts to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus.” [Falls Church News-Press]

COVID-19 Cases — “Fifty-four days elapsed between the time Virginia reported its first case of coronavirus on March 7 and May 1, when the state reported the results of its 100,000th coronavirus test.” [Inside NoVa]

County Committees Meet Today — Fairfax County’s Economic Advisory Commission and environmental, public safety and land use policy committees meet today. [Fairfax County]

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After receiving thousands of applications, Fairfax County officials want to add funds to its grant program to support more small businesses and nonprofits facing financial turmoil from the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will consider spending $20 million to expand Fairfax RISE, according to the draft agenda for the meeting.

The county board originally made the grant program in May with $25 million from funds through the CARES Act. Businesses can receive the following amounts based on the number of employees:

  • 1-10: $10,000
  • 11-25: $15,000
  • 26-49: $20,000

The county is especially trying to help women-owned, minority-owned and veteran-owned businesses stay in business during the pandemic.

Of the 6,280 applications the county received in June, 6,038 qualified for funding, meaning the county would need more than $60 million to support all of them, according to the county.

“As the Grant Program was oversubscribed, a random selection was used to determine the order of processing for all applicants,” according to county documents.

The county invited 2,183 applicants — 36% of the total qualified applicants — to submit documentation and start the certification process. The county documents say that some businesses that qualified during the first review phase may become disqualified in the second review phase if they don’t meet the documentation requirements or don’t respond.

Now, county officials hope that expanding the program will fund approximately 65%-80% of the June applicants by adding $20 million from the county, along with the $1 million provided from the Town of Vienna.

Currently, the county is not accepting new submissions from businesses.

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Last night’s town hall with Fairfax County’s police chief covered a variety of issues related to police reform, from progress on the demands made by Fairfax County NAACP to body-worn cameras.  

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn hosted the meeting last night to give locals a chance to provide input and ask questions. The conflict-free town hall mainly focused on Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. answering questions from audience members and explaining FCPD’s policies in detail. 

Roessler highlighted the reforms made by FCPD since the shooting of John Geer, an unarmed Springfield man, in 2013. They have shifted towards a “co-production” method of policing, which emphasizes the importance of community engagement by bringing in advocates to review issues and discuss police report narratives. 

A big goal of the police department is to increase diversion of tasks, including sending mental health or substance abuse cases away from the police. Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk, who is the chair of the county’s Public Safety Committee, also emphasized that the current range of issues diverted to the police is “too much to ask of them” and is in support of the Diversion First model. 

The chief addressed terminology that the public wanted to be defined, including the FCPD’s definition of the use of force as “anything beyond a guide or escort, or above putting handcuffs on.” Roessler said that anything beyond that is subject to investigation. Additionally, he clarified that chokeholds are prohibited in Fairfax County. 

Roessler also touched on the development of body-worn cameras. He said that the idea has been in the works since June 2015, and he wants to adopt the co-production model of community engagement in this development.

He says they are making “great progress” on this project and that the policies regarding the cameras are addressed online in an American University pilot program testing the same model of body camera policies. They plan to evaluate the body cameras again in-person in September to ensure the policies are exceeding community expectations.

Roessler discussed the evaluation and promotion process of officers, saying that evaluation begins upon application. He described a thorough path of training that officers go through before assignments. Additionally, they value community engagement when evaluating candidates for senior staff positions to ensure officers “embody the spirit of what the community needs for the future.” 

“We want our officers to engage with the community members in a positive fashion, not just calls for service,” Roessler said in describing what they look for upon officer evaluation. 

Other issues covered included the presence of the MS-13 gang, to which Roessler said they “will be relentless on gang activity in Fairfax County.”

When asked how the police department addresses domestic and sexual violence, Roessler said they use the Lethality Assessment Program — Maryland Model to assess the situation and connect victims with immediate help, such as counselors, attorneys or volunteers from the community.

Photo via Youtube Live

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Now that Virginia is in Phase Three of rolling back restrictions, the Fairfax County Park Authority announced today that the Spring Hill Recreation Center will reopen on Monday, July 13.

The McLean center (1239 Spring Hill Road) is a part of nine recreation centers reopening in the county.

“Please keep in mind that membership gives you access to the entire RECenter system; if your RECenter isn’t one of the first opened, you can visit one that has already opened,” the Park Authority said.

Here are the centers reopening this month:

  • July 13: Spring Hill and Lee District and Oak Marr
  • July 20: Audrey Moore, Cub Run and South Run
  • July 27: George Washington, Mount Vernon and Providence

People heading to the centers can expect health screenings for COVID-19 symptoms, mandatory face coverings when not exercising, reservation requirements and time limits for visits. The Park Authority also noted that less equipment will be available for use.

More from the Park Authority:

Initially, the fitness centers and pools will reopen under timed entry restrictions for individual workouts, lap swimming and water walking. Later, drop-in exercise and other classes inside the RECenters will resume, free and plate weights will return, and racquetball and basketball courts will be available. Please consult the RECenter Operational Calendar or go to individual RECenter websites for details on the services offered at each of the RECenters.

“All openings are based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, state mandates, guidance from local health officials and availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies,” the Park Authority said.

Photo by Marcus Ng on Unsplash

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Although the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to drop, local health officials are encouraging residents to maintain social distancing as the county enters phase three of Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plan today.

The number of COVID-19 cases has dramatically declined from a peak of around 300 cases per day to an average of 60 to 70 cases per day, according to Benjamin Schwartz, the Fairfax County Health Department’s medical epidemiologist.

“We have not seen a rebound of disease associated with our community moving into phase one and two. However, the time has been limited,” Schwartz told the county’s health committee at a meeting yesterday, adding that cases are expected to increase as health restrictions relax.

The county is using a “box it in” suppression strategy to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Efforts include intensive contact tracing in order to isolate the spread of the virus. Hiring and training for case investigators to lead contact tracing efforts are underway.

Gloria Addo-Ayensu, the health department’s director, said that COVID-19 surges in other states following reopening should “serve as a reminder that the virus has not gone away.”

“Until we develop a vaccine, we cannot return to the way things used to be,” she said, adding that residents need to “stay the course” on social distancing, wearing facial masks, and quarantining if exposed to COVID-19.

The health department launched several community testing clinics — which were targeted for specific hotspots. Herndon, which has been identified as a hotspot, had a nine percent positive test rate. Other hotspots include the Mount Vernon District and Springfield.

“We are far from over, but I do want to at least acknowledge that we have come a long way,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay.

Schwartz noted that the overwhelming impact of COVID-19 on the local Hispanic community has lessened somewhat, although significant disproportionality remains.

The county is recruiting Hispanic community health tracers and contact tracers. The department is also working with nongovernmental and county agencies to help families and individuals in quarantine.

Photo via Fairfax County 

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Microsoft Closing Physical Stores — “Microsoft Corp. is closing its physical retail stores around the world… Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) lists a total of 72 stores in the United States, with three mall locations in Greater Washington: Westfield Montgomery in Bethesda, Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and Tysons Corner Center.” [Washington Business Journal]

Latest on COVID-19 Cases — “As the world topped 10 million coronavirus cases, the spread of the virus in Northern Virginia continues to stabilize, according to Sunday’s report from the Virginia Department of Health.” [Inside NoVa]

“Get It to Zero!” Campaign — “The Northern Virginia Regional Commission, which is working with local governments to coordinate the region’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, has released a new video encouraging area residents to help bring the number of positive tests to zero.” [Inside NoVa]

Battle the Beetle — “It has not yet been detected in Fairfax County, but the county government is asking local residents to be on the lookout for the Asian longhorned beetle, which has been found in other areas of the country and is very destructive to hardwood trees.” [Inside NoVa]

Metro’s Plans for Fourth of July — “Metro will run more frequent trains and extend service beyond 9 p.m. at designated stations closest to the National Mall.” [WMATA]

Silver Line Shutdown’s Impact on Tysons — “When Metrorail’s Silver Line opened in 2014, officials had high hopes for its ridership numbers. Though it ultimately did not meet those expectations, it fared better than other lines that have lost ridership since the Silver Line’s launch.” [Greater Greater Washington]

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