(Updated at 9 a.m.) Bill Ending School Mask Mandates Signed — Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed legislation yesterday (Wednesday) letting parents opt their children out of mask requirements, adding an emergency clause that sets a deadline of March 1. Fairfax County Public Schools said in a statement to Tysons Reporter that it’s reviewing what this means for the district, which sued to keep its mandate. [Patch]
Wind Advisory Takes Effect Tonight — The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory for Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, that will be in effect from 10 p.m. today (Thursday) to 10 a.m. tomorrow. The alert warns that winds could reach 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, potentially blowing down tree limbs and creating power outages. [NWS]
Tysons Area Schools to Hold Graduations in D.C. — Langley, Madison, Marshall, and McLean high schools will have graduation ceremonies at DAR Constitution Hall on May 31 and June 1 after the events were previously moved due to D.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement, which ended Tuesday (Feb. 15). FCPS said the rule “would have prevented a number of students and families from attending.” [WTOP]
Seven Corners to Get New Fire Station — Fire Station 28 personnel moved to temporary quarters yesterday as Fairfax County prepares to tear the existing station down and build a new one in its place. The new building will have two levels and 13,500 square feet of space, and the current estimated occupancy is mid-2024. [FCFRD/Twitter]
Vienna Inn Named Top 10 “Lovable” Dive Bar — DC Eater ranked the longtime Town of Vienna staple as the 10th most lovable dive bar in the D.C. area: “Around since 1960, this Northern Virginia neighborhood institution is famous for its chili dogs and its convivial vibe. During the pandemic, the chill bar debuted curbside takeout, delivery, and heated outdoor seating.” [DC Eater]
Fairfax County Leader Criticizes Senate Vote on Masks — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said he’s “deeply disappointed” in the Virginia Senate for passing a bill that would let parents opt out of school mask requirements, arguing that it usurps local school boards’ authority. He says local officials have asked the governor to work with them on “an offramp” for when to stop using masks but “have not received any response to that suggestion.” [Jeff McKay/Twitter]
I-66 West Ramp to Vienna Metro Reopens — The ramp from westbound I-66 to the Vienna Metro Station, via an exit to Country Creek Road and Virginia Center Boulevard, has reopened to traffic after an extended closure that began on Jan. 21. The closure was needed for utility work related to the project to extend the I-66 Express Lanes from I-495 in Dunn Loring. [VDOT Northern Virginia/Twitter]
Park Authority Highlights History of Freedom Hill — “Drive through busy Tysons, Virginia, and the traffic, buildings and construction make it hard to imagine the place as anything but a busy urban center. But did you know that it was once a rural community made up of free Black Fairfax County citizens?” [FCPA]
Tysons Company Faces Facial Recognition Concerns — “Two days after the Internal Revenue Service said it would transition away from using facial recognition for taxpayers to access certain IRS documents online after a wave of privacy complaints, Tysons, Virginia-based ID.me said it would make the use of ‘selfies’ optional for all of its government clients.” [WTOP]
Farmers’ Market Managers Sought — The Fairfax County Park Authority is currently recruiting volunteers to manage its 10 farmers markets, including a McLean market that will operate from May 6 to Nov. 11 at Lewinsville Park (1659 Chain Bridge Road). The market managers provide on-site support by setting up supplies, enforcing rules, answering questions, and helping with vendor selection and community outreach. [FCPA]
Photo courtesy novafoto.co
FCPS Mask Requirement Still in Effect — Masks are still required in Fairfax County Public Schools after a hearing in the lawsuit that seven Virginia school boards filed to prevent Gov. Glenn Youngkin from enforcing his optional masks executive order. An Arlington Circuit Court judge did not make a decision in the case yesterday (Wednesday) but said one will be made soon. [FCPS]
Dulles Toll Road Changes Anticipated — With Phase 2 of Metro’s Silver Line expected to open this spring, transportation officials said earlier this week that fares on the Dulles Toll Road will likely rise in 2023 to offset the project’s cost. The road could also switch to an electronic, cash-less system this year, where drivers will pay using their license plate, an EZPass, or a phone app. [Inside NoVA]
No Charges in FCPD Officer Shooting — A Fairfax County police officer who shot and injured a man in Chantilly on Jan. 4 will not face criminal charges, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced yesterday (Wednesday). The prosecutor said the officer “was reasonable” to fear serious injury or death, due to evidence that the resident was wielding a compound bow and arrows. [Patch]
Local Students Speak in Support of Transgender Inclusivity — Some Fairfax County Public Schools students testified in support of policies protecting transgender and gender non-conforming students from discrimination at a General Assembly hearing on Tuesday (Feb. 1). However, a House education subcommittee passed the debated bill, which seeks to halt a requirement that local school boards adopt those policies. [WUSA9]
Registration Begins for Park Authority Classes — “The Fairfax County Park Authority just opened registration for spring classes. Despite an enormous number of available classes to choose from, there are limited spaces available in our facilities, so timely registration via Parktakes Online is recommended to reserve your spot.” [FCPA]
The Fairfax County Park Authority has officially opened the door for an arts building at Clemyjontri Park in McLean.
The park authority board voted unanimously on Jan. 12 to revise the Clemyjontri master plan to include an arts center or a similar community-serving facility as an option for its next phase of development.
“The revision gives the park authority the flexibility in how Clemy may be further developed,” Timothy Hackman, the board’s Dranesville District representative, said. “If in fact it is, it creates the potential for new and exciting opportunities for the community and the county.”
FCPA initiated the master plan revision process in December 2020 after the nonprofit McLean Project for the Arts unveiled a proposal earlier that year for an arts center at Clemyjontri, which is best known for its colorful, accessibility-focused playground.
Originally adopted in 2002, the park’s master plan breaks its development into three phases. The first phase involved the construction of the playground and main parking lot in 2006, and it was followed by the addition of a secondary parking lot and trails in 2019.
Under the newly revised plan, the county has two options for the third and final phase:
- A local history museum or a meeting and event space in the former home of Adele Lebowitz, who donated the property to the park authority
- A new arts center building
If the arts center comes to fruition, the plan calls for the Lebowitz house to be preserved, an overflow parking lot to accommodate larger evening events, and outdoor amenities, such as a gazebo, outdoor classrooms, and a gathering area with gardens.
The building itself will have space for social events, galleries and exhibitions, and classrooms, FCPA senior landscape architect and project manager Doug Tipsword told the Park Authority Board’s planning and development committee prior to the vote.
Tipsword noted that park authority staff heard some concerns at community meetings about the proposed facility’s size, visibility from residential neighborhoods adjacent to the park, and potential noise and traffic impacts.
The master plan dictates that existing trees on the north side of the Lebowitz house be preserved as a buffer and new evergreen shrubs planted on the park’s east and west sides.
In response to questions about the arts center’s size, county staff revised their presented design to emphasize that it’s conceptual, not a literal representation of what the building will look like.
“Specific details on facility design, usage, hours of operation, those kinds of things are reviewed and approved via separate public processes prior to development,” Tipsword said.
Now that the master plan revision has been approved, the park authority has to submit a more concrete proposal to the county’s planning department and go through the special exception and public facilities review processes, which both require public hearings.
While MPA is the most likely candidate to operate the arts center, the park authority will consider other possible partners as well.
“I think the park authority, to give everybody some comfort, will in fact analyze any such proposals thoroughly and will be sensitive to any overall community interests that may be expressed,” Hackman said.
Map via Fairfax County Park Authority
Reminder: Winter Weather Advisory Today — “A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued from 9 PM Thursday to 5 AM Friday. Expected snow in the county at this time is between 2-4 inches. Plan on slippery road conditions and continue to monitor the forecast.” [Ready Fairfax/Twitter]
Vienna Police Warn of “McAfee Antivirus” Scam — “The scam usually begins with an email that purports to be from McAfee informing citizens that they are being charged $300 for ‘McAfee Total Protection anti-virus software’ unless they cancel the order by calling a phone number provided in the email. If you call the number provided, you will be greeted by a scammer posing as a McAfee employee who will ask for personal information, including a bank account number supposedly to verify the account.” [Vienna Police Department/Twitter]
New Tysons Gym Opens Today — PureGym has a grand opening today (Thursday) for its new Tysons Square gym, the British company’s first in the U.S. PureGym says Tysons stood out for “its mix of office and residential, as well as its accessibility by car, bus and rail via Metro’s Greensboro station.” [Washington Business Journal]
Park Authority Board Reverts to Virtual Meetings — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board’s regular meetings and committee sessions will return to a virtual format until further notice. Meetings will be accessible via livestream beginning Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. This change is reflective of current social distancing recommendations and safety concerns related to the current surge in COVID-19 cases.” [FCPA]
Tysons Nail Salon Relocates to Reston — “Beauty Nail Bar, currently operating out of Tysons, should open at its new location (1675 Reston Parkway) by the end of February, according to owner Nam Huynh of Wolf Trap. He said he decided to move his operation for more space, but it will otherwise be exactly the same.” [Reston Now]
FCPS Superintendent Search Underway — The Fairfax County School Board discussed the process and timeline for hiring a new superintendent to replace Scott Brabrand, who will leave the position on June 30. The Fairfax County Public Schools community will be able to provide input in an emailed survey next week and focus groups scheduled for mid-January. [FCPS]
Vienna Refines Plans for ARPA Funds — “Vienna officials are leaning toward spending millions of dollars on capital-improvement projects to make the most of an infusion of federal COVID-relief funds…Town officials in the next three to six months will need to devise a final plan for the ARPA funds, which must be spent by 2024, Finance Director Marion Serfass told the Vienna Town Council at a Dec. 13 work session.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
Local Hyatt House Officially Rebrands — “The Hyatt House in the Mosaic District of Merrifield officially changed hands Wednesday and donned its new Archer Hotel Falls Church name. As part of the acquisition, Archer Hotel will be conducting a design overhaul of the former Hyatt House Falls Church/Merrifield, with a spring unveiling of the luxury boutique hotel.” [Patch]
Pickleball Study Formally Endorsed — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board endorsed the Park Authority Pickleball Study Report at their regular meeting on Dec. 8, 2021. The report will serve as a guiding document for Park Authority pickleball site planning criteria, design and operations of pickleball facilities.” [FCPA]
Annual Hiking Photo Contest to Return — “First Hike Fairfax returns with even more award categories, including a new Best in Show (Pets) award. This year, First Hike Fairfax will be a two-day weekend event (Jan. 1-2, 2022) to help promote social distancing and prevent crowding on the trails on one day.” [FCPA]
Interest in pickleball continues to rise and is sparking conversation about providing adequate courts in Fairfax County.
In response to requests for more facilities from pickleball players, the Fairfax County Park Authority is soliciting feedback from the community on potential plans for new courts or court lines.
The first site under consideration is Lewinsville Park in McLean. The FCPA presented potential plans to renovate or repurpose the tennis courts there during a virtual public meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 1).
“FCPA has addressed these requests in the past as opportunities presented themselves along routine maintenance,” FCPA project manager Adam Wynn said. “But with the high demand in all court sports and limited resources, there really needed to be a proactive and strategic approach to address these requests in a way that adds pickleball capacity, but also does so in a publicly beneficial and fiscally responsible way.”
The proposed project is part of an ongoing, countywide effort to determine how to address pickleball’s growing popularity as a sport. The park authority released a draft report of its study in September that included the results of an online survey and identified challenges with the county’s existing facilities and options for new ones.
The study recommends two layouts for courts. The first layout entails a shared-use court that is dual striped for tennis and pickleball. The second is a dedicated court for pickleball only.
Wynn said community responses identified McLean as a location that could support four or more pickleball courts to facilitate more drop-in play, where players arrive at courts without advance reservation.
In the greater McLean area, FCPA has two shared-use courts at Westgate, McLean Central, and Linway Terrace parks. Additionally, the Spring Hill Rec Center, Providence Community Center, and James Lee Community Center offer pickleball classes.
Lewinsville Park was identified as a viable location for new pickleball courts because it met most of the criteria outlined in the draft report, such as allowing for courts to be grouped together, according to Wynn.
He added that the courts at the park are in need of repair, and improvements could add capacity for both tennis and pickleball purposes.
The park currently has six courts dedicated for only tennis and a practice wall. FCPA is evaluating three options that would all include new surfacing for the courts and retaining the practice wall.
The first option retains all six tennis courts but converts three of them into six shared-use pickleball courts. The second option has four dedicated pickleball courts, four dedicated tennis courts, and one shared-use tennis court that could also serve as two additional pickleball courts.
The third option is for six dedicated pickleball courts and four tennis courts.
During the open comment portion of the meeting, several community participants took issue with the idea of repurposing the tennis courts or sharing them with pickleball, arguing that there are not enough tennis courts in general.
Some pushed for pickleball courts to be constructed elsewhere while utilizing other park or amenity space.
According to Wynn, court use is on the rise in the county, with rental hours for park authority courts climbing 573.7% between 2020 and 2021, though the data isn’t broken down by the specific sport being played.
Comments on the potential project at Lewinsville Park will be accepted until Jan. 7, 2022, after which FCPA will settle on a development option. Emails may be sent to [email protected] or [email protected].
The final pickleball study report is expected to be published in early 2022. If approved, the overall completion of the Lewinsville project is anticipated in summer 2022.
New Milestone Reached in Silver Line Phase 2 Project — Construction work on a new rail yard and maintenance facility at Dulles International Airport has been substantially completed, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced. The milestone will enable the project team to start testing the operational readiness of the Metrorail extension, bringing it closer to the long-anticipated handoff to Metro. [MWAA]
Afghan Refugees Build Community in Fairfax Hotel — “As the morning sunlight pours into her hotel room in Fairfax, Virginia, [Taban Ibraz] plans out her day: Attend an online English course, work on her asylum case and the stack of humanitarian parole applications for her family, look for an apartment, or simply stay in her room to read or write in her journal.” [DCist]
Vienna Kicks Off Holiday Season — “It took an extra year to reach the milestone, courtesy of the pandemic, but Vienna finally got to celebrate the 25th in-person Church Street Holiday Stroll Nov. 29. Santa arrived on the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department’s antique red fire engine, then lighted the town’s holiday tree with Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” [Sun Gazette]
Merrifield Company Honored for Park Philanthropy — The Merrifield-based aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman received a distinguished public service award from the Fairfax County Park Foundation, which raises funds for the Fairfax County Park Authority. The company has donated more than $169,000 to support environmental education in the county’s parks since 2001. [FCPA]
Churchill Road Park in McLean has a newly refurbished bridge, thanks to local Boy Scout Samuel Williams.
Williams, 17, recently completed construction on one of the park’s bridges as a part of his effort to become an Eagle Scout.
The bridge project was no small feat, requiring eight months of planning as authorization to work on the site had to be first approved by the Fairfax County Park Authority, the Boy Scouts of America Council, and others.
“We originally said, ‘okay, this will be a pretty simple project.’ Of course, we hit a bunch of challenges along the way,” Williams said. “There was a lot of times, originally, where we thought we’d have to abandon the project and I’d have to completely restart it.”
Physical work on the aging bridge began on Aug. 28, starting with the installation of new, pressure-treated lumber to give its deck a longer life. Williams enlisted the help of his father and a couple of friends — with pizza and Gatorade as an extra incentive — to begin replacing the boards.
The new bridge was completed on Sept. 19. Williams credits his father, a mechanic, for getting the project to the finish line.
“He loves to work with his hands,” Williams said. “…He also taught me how to use a lot of different tools, drills and stuff. And he was the one that really helped me through this.”
Renovating the Churchill Road bridge wasn’t what Williams initially had in mind for his Eagle Scout project.
He originally planned to paint a map of the United States at a local elementary school playground, but found there wasn’t much of a desire or need after talking with school principals and officials.
The idea of tackling the bridge came in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Virginia was under a stay-at-home order. Looking for an acceptable way to get out of the house, Williams began to bicycle more frequently, which led him to the familiar bridge at the park.
“I grew up going over this bridge as a kid and playing in the creek it crosses over. One day, I was biking and I went over it and realized that it is really in rough shape,” he said. “…I thought, ‘okay, here’s a new project. I can repaint this bridge.'”
At first, Williams only noticed that the paint on the bridge was wearing off, but upon further inspection, he found that the deck boards were rotting away and the railings wobbled.
“I could just slap a new coat of paint on this thing and call it done, but that wouldn’t really do much benefit because this thing is going to collapse within a year, this thing is going to fall apart,” Williams said. “
So, a straightforward paint job expanded into a full overhaul of the bridge, a process prolonged by some confusion over who owned the facility.
Once the project was completed, though, the Langley High School student could take pride in how it had pushed him outside his comfort zone.
“To actually be able to step back, take a look at everything I had just done and see eight months of hard work put down in a way that could actually help the community, it was the most rewarding feeling that I’ve probably ever had,” Williams said.
Williams first joined BSA Troop 128 around the beginning of seventh grade. Earning the Eagle Scout rank is something he has been working toward ever since, with the support of scout masters and other troop members.
“Originally I set out into Boy Scouts to be outside, meet new people and have a great experience,” he said.
“But after going to several Eagle courts and…seeing what these guys had been doing all these years, and being able to say, ‘hey, I’m an Eagle Scout,’ to me, it wasn’t just something I wanted to put on my college application. It was something that I wanted to have the rest of my life and be able to say that I was an Eagle Scout.”
(Updated at 8:50 p.m. on 11/7/2021) Soccer players, Olympic medalists, public officials, businessmen, and an ambassador descended on Holladay Field (1311 Spring Hill Road) in McLean last weekend to celebrate the facility’s recently completed renovation.
The nearly 2,000 attendees at the Fairfax County Park Authority’s grand opening event on Saturday (Oct. 30) reflected the diversity of participants in the project, which converted the 5.1-acre park’s athletic field from natural to synthetic turf.
“This is a unique project with several key partners, each instrumental in helping to make this project possible and providing funding for this synthetic turf field conversion,” the park authority said in a news release yesterday (Thursday).
The new Holladay Field is a welcome addition to the area’s recreational facilities for McLean Youth Soccer, which said the available spaces for practices and games were insufficient to support its 3,000-plus players.
Synthetic turf requires less maintenance and provides “increased accessibility for user groups” than the existing natural turf, MYS Executive Director Louise Waxler says.
Working with the FCPA, the soccer association contributed $650,000 to the $1.5 million project and even agreed to provide movable side goals for the field when rising material costs pushed it over the available budget.
Donors to MYS included Leidos CEO Roger Krone and United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba, who wanted to contribute as soccer fans and the parents of players, according to the FCPA.
Collectively, the private funding amounted to $725,000. The project also used public money from the county’s 2016 park bond.
Contractors began work on Holladay Field in June.
In addition to creating a full soccer field that can also be used for football, lacrosse, and field hockey, the project brought two underground stormwater management facilities, a bleacher pad, an access trail, and landscape improvements.
In addition to Krone and Al Otaiba, notable figures at the grand opening event included Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, who became the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles in 1984, and five-time Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long.
Long’s husband Lucas Winters serves as the Elite Clubs National League coach and director of recreation for McLean Youth Soccer.
Washington Spirit captain Andi Sullivan and D.C. United mascot Talon made appearances as well, joining Long in signing autographs for the young soccer players in attendance, according to MYS.
“Thanks to [Dranesville District] Supervisor [John] Foust, the Fairfax County Park Authority, and the generous investment by Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba of the UAE and Leidos, Inc., we became one step closer to meeting our field needs,” Waxler said by email. “This is not only an investment in our kids, but also an investment to the McLean community as a whole.”