Vice President Praises Local Candle Maker — 11-year-old entrepreneur Alejandro got a boost from Vice President Kamala Harris when she visited the stall that his company Smell of Love Candles had at the Downtown Holiday Market in D.C. last weekend. Based in Fairfax County, the company crafts and delivers soy candles, and it now offers the ones bought by Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff as a package. [WUSA9]
COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Available to Students — Fairfax County Public Schools students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a COVID-positive person can now get diagnostic testing at six drive-through sites around the county. Appointments aren’t needed, but a parent or guardian must provide consent and their children’s information through the school system’s online portal. [FCPS]
County Recommends Getting COVID-19 Booster — “The Fairfax County Health Department joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in strengthening their recommendation on booster doses for individuals who are 18 years and older. Everyone aged 18 and older should get a booster shot either six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after their initial J&J vaccine.” [FCHD]
Four People Killed in Thanksgiving Weekend Traffic Crashes — “Four people died in traffic crashes in Virginia over the Thanksgiving weekend, the smallest number of traffic fatalities during the holiday weekend in the past 10 years, according to preliminary data released by the Virginia State Police. The fatal crashes occurred in the counties of Albemarle, Chesterfield, Fairfax and Spotsylvania.” [Patch]
Fairfax County Collects Record Taxes — “Fairfax County collected more than $4 billion in total taxes in fiscal 2021 for the first time ever, a staggering figure made possible not by rising tax rates, but soaring property assessments. Of the $4.05 billion collected in the fiscal year that ended June 30, $3.02 billion, or roughly 75%, came from real property tax levies, according to the county’s recently released Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.” [Washington Business Journal]
County Leaders Consider Staff Pay Increases — “Fairfax County supervisors and School Board members next year hope to give county and school employees large pay raises to make up for ones lost last year to the pandemic. But supervisors added quickly they did not want homeowners to feel the full brunt of skyrocketing property assessments.” [Sun Gazette]
Virginia Hospital Center Expands into Tysons — “The Arlington health system has purchased a building at 1760 Old Meadow Road where it’s setting up an orthopedic outpatient surgery center, according to VHC CEO Jim Cole. The hospital is now renovating a 14,900-square-foot area of existing building in a project expected to cost $6.4 million including construction and equipment…The facility is slated to open in mid-2022.” [Washington Business Journal]
County Releases FY 2023 Budget Forecast — Fairfax County anticipates a 5.7% revenue increase of approximately $279.6 million for fiscal year 2023, which starts July 1, 2022. However, the gains will be offset by continued declines in real estate values for office buildings and senior care facilities due to the pandemic. [Fairfax County Government]
County Police Focus on Recruitment and Violent Crimes — “While monitoring disturbing trends such as domestic homicides and increasingly violent vehicle thieves, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis hopes to hire more officers and implement changes to modernize the police department. The county’s overall crime rate now is down by slightly more than 12%, or about 3,500 fewer victims compared with the previous year.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
Town of Vienna Offices Closed Tomorrow — “Town offices and the Community Center will be closed Nov. 25 for Thanksgiving. There will be no trash collection on Nov. 25, crews will pick up along that route the next day. The Community Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 26, while Town offices will be closed.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Visit Fairfax Launches Holiday Gift Guide — “Ali Morris at Visit Fairfax, the county’s official tourism and hospitality promotion group, created the Fairfax County 2021 Holiday Gift Guide to showcase gift-worthy products created right here and the artisans behind the creations. You can shop by these categories: art and designs; body; chocolate; coffee; food; kids; pets; stocking stuffers; textiles; wine, beer and spirits.” [FCEDA]
Editor’s Note: Tysons Reporter is following a lighter publishing schedule today (Friday) for Veterans Day weekend.
Falls Church Police Seek Man in Sexual Assault Case — “The City of Falls Church Police are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the pictured individual who was in the area at the time of an assault. Late night on Wednesday, November 10, an adult female was sexually assaulted in the vicinity of 444 W. Broad St.” [City of Falls Church]
County to Add Veteran Services Coordinator — “Today, I’m excited to share that we will be hiring a Veteran’s Services Coordinator to improve the well-being of veterans in our community. This person will help vets access resources and advocate for new tools to help our veterans. Thank you to our vets for your service!” [Chairman Jeff McKay/Twitter]
See Marshall HS Veterans Day Display — “Students, staff, and parent volunteers at Fairfax County’s Marshall High School set up close to 400 American flags outside the school on Wednesday afternoon. The display is a tradition at Marshall, installed twice a year ahead of both Veterans Day and Memorial Day.” [ABC7]
County Adopts Plan to Eliminate Waste — “On Nov. 9, the Board of Supervisors adopted the Fairfax County Government and Schools Zero Waste Plan. This sets county government and Fairfax County Public Schools on a path toward zero waste by 2030 with two goals: diverting 90% of waste away from landfills or incinerators and decreasing the total amount of waste generated by 25%.” [Fairfax County Government]
Meadowlark Replaces Korean Bell Garden Totems — “Four freshly carved wooden totem poles — representing a king, queen, bride and groom — now stand guard over the Korean Bell Garden at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in the Vienna area. NOVA Parks officials held an installation ceremony for the poles Nov. 8…Traditionally placed at the entrances of Korean villages, the totem poles symbolically protect residents from misfortune.” [Sun Gazette]
Roaming Rooster Grand Opening Tomorrow — “Great news RR Fam! Rooster #5, our first VA location, officially hatches in Tysons Corner this weekend. As part of our grand opening, we will be giving out free samples, RR merch, and $20 gift cards randomly throughout the day on Sat & Sun. Come check us out!” [Roaming Rooster/Twitter]
Fairfax Connector Offers Metro Alternatives — With Metrorail service limited throughout the rest of the week, Fairfax Connector is reminding commuters that it offers express service to the Pentagon or downtown D.C. from five sites, including the Vienna Metro station on route 698. [Fairfax Connector]
Proposed Redistricting Maps Now Available — “The Board of Supervisors authorized a public hearing on Nov. 9 to consider proposed redistricting plans…There were 64 plans submitted in total by the board-appointed committee established to recommend new maps and the public, and these plans may be reviewed through an online dashboard.” [Fairfax County Government]
International Earthquake Drill Coming Tomorrow — “Every year, ShakeOut Day is the largest earthquake drill ever…What we do to prepare now before the next big earthquake will determine how well we can survive and recover. ShakeOut will occur in houses, workplaces, schools and public spaces at 10:21 a.m. local time on Oct. 21.” [Fairfax County Emergency Information]
County Opens Graham Road “Traffic Garden” — Fairfax County recently introduced a traffic garden near the Graham Road Community Center in West Falls Church to promote traffic safety education. The facility features an intersection with crosswalks and two-way lanes, mimicking real-life street conditions so kids can learn the rules of the road free of hazards. [Fairfax County Health Department]
Wolf Trap Accepting Grant Applications from Local Arts Teachers — “The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is accepting applications for this year’s Grants for High School Performing Arts Teachers Program. The grants are available to teachers across the D.C. area. The grant application deadline is Nov. 15, and grantees will be named in December for the 2021-22 school year.” [Patch]
Weekly Police Blotter Halted Over ICE Concerns — Fairfax County police no longer publish a weekly arrest blotter after officials decided that it violates the county’s Trust Policy barring employees from giving information to federal immigration authorities. Some fear this will reduce public transparency, though the department is looking at releasing the data without identifying details like alleged offenders’ names and last known addresses. [The Washington Post]
Tysons Tech Contractor Leaves for Ashburn — The eighth largest public company in the D.C. area, DXC Technology will move its corporate headquarters from the 1775 Tysons Blvd. space it has occupied since 2016 to the One Loudoun development in Ashburn. The move is expected to be complete in November and comes as part of the company’s plans to downsize with its workforce operating more remotely. [Washington Business Journal]
McLean Company Offers Stocks to Fund Indoor Ski Slope — Alpine-X, the McLean-based company behind Lorton’s planned indoor winter slope facility, has attracted 75 investors in the first week since it started selling stocks to the general public to help fund the project. Expected to open around early 2025, Fairfax Peak will include a luxury hotel, zip lines, a mountain coaster, restaurants, and other amenities. [Patch]
Fairfax County Launches New Mobile App — “New county iPhone and Android apps are now available for you to download and have county information even closer to your fingertips. This latest version of the county app includes push notifications that you can opt in to receive about topics such as tax and voting deadlines, key news headlines, [and] important updates on COVID-19 and other emerging issues.” [Fairfax County Government]
McLean Student Highlighted for Journalism Skills — Churchill Road Elementary School fourth-grader Ethan Zhang is one of 10 children from across the country that Time for Kids has chosen to be a “Kid Reporter” for the 2021-2022 school year. He stood out for his profile of Fairfax County Public Schools Director of Food and Nutrition Services Maria Perrone, a story that looked at the school system’s meal distributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Patch]
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.
Fairfax County Recognizes 9/11 Anniversary — For those who missed it, watch the remembrance ceremony that Fairfax County held on Saturday (Sept. 11) to mark 20 years since the 9/11 attacks. The Town of Vienna commemorated the occasion with a ceremony of its own, and the McLean Community Center posted a “Taps” tribute with comments from local faith leaders.
Virginia DMV to Resume Walk-in Services — “Beginning Oct. 5, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles customers may choose to schedule an appointment for service or opt for walk-in service on alternating days at all 75 customer service centers…During the pandemic, [the] DMV began operating by appointment only as it reopened offices in May 2020 after a temporary closure due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.” [Inside NoVA]
Robbery Reported in Mosaic District — A man told Fairfax County police on Sept. 4 that an acquaintance had assaulted him and taken his property in the 2900 block of District Avenue in Merrifield. Police arrested the suspect, who fled the scene of the assault, on Sept. 7 and charged him with robbery and malicious wounding. The victim went to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. [FCPD]
Lee Highway Renaming Task Force Meets Tonight — The Confederate Names Task Force appointed to determine whether Fairfax County should rename Lee Highway (Route 29) and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway (Route 50) will hold its second meeting at 7 p.m. today (Monday). The meeting will be virtual and can be followed online, on Channel 16, or by phone at 703-324-5300. [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]
Labor Day weekend has almost arrived, unofficially bringing summer to an end with an occasion to recognize the achievement of workers and the labor movement.
For students, the weekend has already begun, since Fairfax County Public Schools has designated both today (Friday) and Monday (Sept. 6) as holidays.
With Labor Day falling on Monday, many public facilities and services in Fairfax County will be closed or have altered schedules to accommodate the federal holiday. Here are some of the changes that residents in the Tysons area should keep in mind:
Fairfax County Government
- County government offices will be closed on Sept. 6.
Fairfax County Courts
- The Fairfax Circuit, General District, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District courts will all be closed on Labor Day.
Town of Vienna
- Town offices will be closed all day, but waste collections will proceed as normally scheduled.
- The Vienna Community Center will also be closed on Monday.
City of Falls Church
- All city government offices and buildings will be closed on Labor Day, including City Hall, Gage House (401 Great Falls Street), and the Property Yard (7100 Gordon Rd.)
- The Falls Church Community Center will be closed on both Sunday (Sept. 5) and Monday before reopening under its normal business hours on Tuesday.
- Mary Riley Styles Public Library will remain closed as staff continue the process of moving into the newly renovated facility.
County Libraries and Recreational Facilities
- Fairfax County Public Library follows the same operating status as the general county government, so all branches will be closed on Labor Day.
- Nearly all Fairfax County RECenters will be open on Monday and follow their standard operating hours, which conclude at 6 p.m. The exception is the George Washington RECenter in Alexandria, which will be closed.
- The Colvin Run Mill and Sully historic sites, Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, and all nature centers will be closed.
- The visitor center at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon will be closed, but the farm itself will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The indoor arena will also be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- The McLean Community Center will be closed on Labor Day.
- All Neighborhood and Community Services facilities, including community, teen, and senior centers, will be closed from Sept. 4-6.
- Fairfax Connector buses will operate on a Sunday schedule for Labor Day. Check the transit system’s website for the specific routes that will be in service.
- Metro will operate from 7 a.m. to midnight throughout Labor Day weekend, with trains serving 87 of 91 stations normally on the Red, Blue, and Silver lines and scheduled maintenance on the Orange, Yellow, and Green lines.
- On Labor Day, Metrorail, buses, and MetroAccess will follow a Sunday service schedule with off-peak fares and free parking in effect all day.
County Trash and Recycling
- Labor Day will not affect trash and recycling collections for county customers. However, the customer service center will be closed in observance of the holiday.
- The I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will both be open.
Prepare for Remnants of Hurricane Ida — Tropical Depression Ida is expected to hit the D.C. area today (Wednesday). A Flash Flood Watch will take effect this morning, and Gov. Ralph Northam has already declared a state of emergency. Fairfax County says to avoid flooded streets, remove valuables from basements, and ensure storm drains and gutters aren’t clogged, and Falls Church City residents can borrow sandbags until 3 p.m. [Fairfax County Emergency Information]
County Grants Program Now Accepting Applicants — Fairfax County’s new Active and Thriving Community Grants Program opened its application portal yesterday (Tuesday) and will accept applicants until 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14. Approved on July 27, the program will allocate $10 million in federal relief money to select small businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. [Fairfax County Government]
FCPS Ready to Help Afghan Refugee Students — “[Annandale resident] Tahir is awaiting the arrival of his wife and other children, who were among thousands of Afghans who fled after the Taliban takeover earlier this month…When his family arrives, one of his priorities will be enrolling the children in school. A spokesperson for Fairfax County Public Schools said faculty and staff are already helping Afghan refugees enroll their children and providing them with additional support to help students adjust to their new environment.” [Inside NoVA]
Longtime Falls Church Crossing Guard Retires — “It was almost like any other day as Audrey Luthman greeted students heading to school Tuesday morning. She’s helped Falls Church students cross the roads safely since 1971, but her work has come to an end…City of Falls Church officials and families gathered Tuesday morning to celebrate Luthman’s 50 years of service and retirement.” [Patch]
Faced with challenges from providing affordable housing to mitigating flooding, Fairfax County has its hands full, but it’s currently armed with vacant property assessed at tens of millions of dollars.
Currently tax-exempt, the properties could be used for commercial development, environmental preservation, housing projects, recreation, or stormwater drainage, among other purposes.
“There is a critical shortage of affordable housing options in Fairfax County,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said when asked about what the county should do with its vacant properties.
The total financial value of vacant, county-owned properties exceeds $50 million, as calculated based on a public records request and assessments in an online county database for over 100 parcels that could be used for commercial, residential, or other uses.
It wasn’t immediately clear if other restrictions, such as environmental issues, setbacks, and prior plans, limit the use of those properties.
The $50 million-plus figure includes at least $10 million in assessed property that was listed as vacant but nonbuildable, but it excludes properties in floodplains as well as parcels already in use, such as parking lots, parks, or school areas.
One of the largest vacant property acquisitions is across from the Fairfax County Government Center: a 2.6-acre property bordered by Legato Road and Post Forest Drive that cost around $50 million in 1994. It currently has an assessed value of around $11,450.
“One of the elements of the County’s Housing Strategic Plan is to utilize vacant parcels as well as to repurpose land, such as existing parking lots, to increase the supply of housing,” Foust noted by email.
Created in 2018, the Communitywide Housing Strategic Plan calls on Fairfax County to make vacant or underutilized, publicly owned land available for affordable and mixed-income housing “to expand housing options without direct public financial subsidy” through public-private partnerships.
Currently, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority has three such properties that are slated to be developed through public-private partnerships:
- The Oakwood Senior Housing Project, which will provide affordable units for the elderly near Alexandria
- Autumn Willow Senior Housing, a 10.88-acre property near Centreville
- The Route 50/West Ox Affordable Housing Project near Fair Oaks Mall
The county’s more sizable vacant lots include five adjacent properties along South Van Dorn Street in Franconia that occupy around 3.7 acres located near Thomas A. Edison High School.
The county also has a 9.63-acre parcel near the Innovation Center Metro station that will eventually open in Herndon as part of the much-delayed Silver Line extension.
Foust says part of the property includes a community playing field, but its proximity to the Metro station could make it a candidate for future affordable housing.
“Placing affordable housing on the site could be a good use of the land,” he said. “If that came about, the playing field would need to be relocated.”
In McLean, the county has two properties in a residential neighborhood at 7135 and 7139 Old Dominion Drive that have been assessed at a combined $2.06 million. They are slated for a traffic improvement project at the intersection of Old Dominion and Balls Hill Road. The project is currently in the design phase.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a Washington Business Journal story about affordable housing that land is the county’s “single most useful tool.”
“Reallocation of Board-owned property can occur in a number of ways,” McKay said in a statement. “However it is often at the request of a County agency and is followed by an extensive review of the property. Within the last year, the Board was proud to authorize the transfer of two properties to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority for the potential creation of affordable housing.”