Tysons, VA

Fairfax County officials want to address looming childcare challenges ahead of the upcoming school year.

John Foust and Walter Alcorn, the supervisors for the Dranesville and Hunter Mill districts, presented a joint board matter yesterday to tackle the “unprecedented need” for childcare.

When classes start again this fall, Fairfax County Public Schools is planning to offer two systems: fully online and hybrid learning — a mix of in-person and online instruction. Working parents, especially ones who don’t work from home, now have to figure out childcare options, which have been complicated due to the pandemic.

Alcorn and Foust said that the county may have to expand its role in child care options depending on great the need is.

“For the sake of the children and their families it is essential that good quality child care services be made available,” the board matter said. “It is also critical to advance the county’s efforts to restart our economy that those parents who work but do not normally need childcare when schools are fully open can work and contribute to economic activity.”

County Executive Bryan Hill said that the county has 2,000 childcare providers: “The first thing we want to do is fill them up.”

Chairman Jeff McKay said that childcare providers he’s talked to have said that they are concerned about surviving the pandemic.

“Oddly, their businesses hurt more than most because what they are worried about is a ton of people now teleworking and not needing daycare,” McKay said.

The Board of Supervisors approved the board matter, which directs county staff to work with FCPS and to update the supervisors on how the county can provide additional resources and support.

“Even in the best of times, the infrastructure for childcare in Fairfax County is not adequate,” Foust said yesterday. “And these are far from the best of times.”

Photo by Shirota Yuri on Unsplash

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Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust is joining an effort by Fairfax County officials to help people avoid evictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Foust teamed up with Chairman Jeff McKay and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck on a board matter to address rent relief options. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the proposal yesterday (Tuesday).

“As we continue to address the impact of COVID-19 and the associated impact on employment in our community, low and moderate income families in particular are increasingly at risk of falling behind on rent and mortgages, and eventually eviction and even homelessness,” the board matter says.

County staff must now develop a Housing Partnership Pledge by working with landlords and lenders. The county officials want to see them offer to defer foreclosures and evictions, along with providing extra time for tenants to pay rent.

Fairfax County is looking at Chicago’s pledge as a guide, according to the board matter.

Along with the pledge, the county is directing the Department of Housing and Community Development to develop new guidelines for emergency rental assistance so that landlords must work “in good faith” to keep their tenants housed in exchange for the county helping tenants’ make payments.

Under the new guidelines, landlords receiving the assistance would have to notify the county before taking legal action against the tenants.

“In addition, we should explore asking landlords receiving emergency rental assistance to waive late fees dating to April 1,” the board matter says.

Additionally, the Redevelopment and Housing Authority is now asked to look into more opportunities to provide emergency rental assistance.

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At last night’s town hall meeting by the Fairfax County NAACP, the organization’s president Sean Perryman met with local elected officials and community leaders to discuss the future of policing.

Since the killing of George Floyd in police custody and outrage over racial inequities in the U.S., the NAACP compiled a list of policy changes for how to address how police use force and report actions to the public.

Top demands for reform include:

  • removing police from schools
  • reporting data efficiently
  • implementing body-worn cameras
  • reporting officer misconduct
  • reviewing the use of force policy
  • demilitarizing the police force
  • mandating counseling/early intervention

Perryman said that the Fairfax County Police Department needs to see policy and budget overhauls to end systemic racism and better serve the community. Perryman said that nearly half the police use of force in the area is used against Black individuals even though they make up 10% of the population.

At the meeting, the attendees, which included Supervisors Dalia Pakchik, John Foust, Walter Alcorn and Chairman Jeff McKay, all agreed that changes are needed to improve the safety and security of every Fairfax County resident.

Fairfax County Police Chief  Edwin Roessler Jr. expressed a willingness to work with the NAACP on the proposed changes. 

“I don’t think I oppose in whole any one of these items,” Roessler said, but added that there might be stipulations on certain topics.  

A point of confusion at the meeting was about the transparency of data. Though everyone agreed that data is important to tracking issues and upcoming solutions, no one was on the same page when it came to the type of data and release date.

The FCPD police chief said that recent data on use of force data and school arrests should be released to McKay later this week, but the department is transitioning to a new data management system to achieve the goal.

“We have a lot of promises for data and more transparency but we aren’t actually getting the data,” Perryman said, adding that this data needs to be not only released to the county board, but also to the public.

“This would give the community some insight into what is happening,” Perryman said, adding that this data needs to include other information such as traffic stops and the races of officers and civilians involved.

The conversation on body-worn cameras for officers revolved around best practices and use.

Perryman suggested that officers shouldn’t be allowed to choose when to use them, calling it “an essential part of transparency,” he said.

“It is a waste of equipment, essentially a lens with a price tag, if there is no policy in place that prevents officers from turning this off or selectively turning it on,” he added.

When it comes to budget and funding, Perryman doesn’t believe the department should receive extra money from the state or the county for this project, suggesting that the cost should come from internal budget shifts.

“What we’ve seen in the past when there is a problem with the police, we give them more money to get more toys and we think that needs to stop,” Perryman said. “I don’t think there is an appetite for it here in the country or anywhere else actually.”

The town hall also addressed concerns with civilian review panels.

Tn the past, the panels have struggled to “have teeth,” according to Roessler, who added that the General Assembly would need to correct that. 

Though there are challenges, Perryman said that people need to stop pointing fingers and create a substantial plan. He wants the panel to be independent and have the power to investigative incidents independently.

“This has to be a group that can stand up and can make clear recommendations to us,” McKay agreed. “I’ll be happy to work with you on the roster.”

Later in the meeting, Alcorn spoke up and talked about limiting the presence of firearms in the community.

“I’m not sure sending out folks with firearms is the best approach in 2020,” Alcorn said, adding that when someone calls 911, depending on the situation, there are better ways to address a community need.

Supervisors Palchik and Foust offered their support to continue the conversation with both FCPD and Fairfax County NAACP about new policies and best practices.

“We are not immune from making the types of reforms that are necessary to build the kind of confidence that everyone should have in our law enforcement agencies,” McKay said. “The most important thing for elected officials to do right now is to listen.”

Photo via Facebook Live

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Robert Ames Alden was a “walking institution” in the D.C. area, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust recently told his fellow county officials.

Alden died at the age of 87 from complications from Alzheimer’s disease on June 7, the Washington Post reported. Foust shared highlights of Alden’s career and life during the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting last week.

Born in D.C., Alden worked as a sportswriter for the Cleveland Press before joining the Washington Post in 1952, Foust said. Alden covered wars, riots, natural disasters and more during his nearly 50-year career at the Washington Post.

Alden was a founder of the National Press Foundation. Foust noted that Alden, who was the National Press Club’s president in 1976, was a “leading advocate” in the 1960s and 1970s to allow women to join the Press Club.

Foust remembered Alden as a “living legend in McLean.” On the local level, Alden advocated for the community complex that houses McLean Central Park, the Dolley Madison Library and the McLean Community Center.

Foust said that the then-governing board of the community center wanted to name the building after him.

“If you knew Bob, you know he refused,” Foust said. “That would not be acceptable to him. He wanted it named the McLean Community Center.”

The community center’s auditorium and theater were named after him instead.

“He was an amazingly successful, amazingly accomplished and unbelievably nice, friendly, courteous, kind guy,” Foust said. “We are going to miss him so much.”

Photo via Alden Theatre/Facebook

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Foot traffic in McLean will soon have a clearer path thanks to a new project updating several sidewalks.

Around 13,000 square feet of sidewalk at 250 locations around McLean will be updated, according to a press release. The updates are a part of a McLean Community Revitalization District project.

Backing the project, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said walkability is one of his priorities.

“These repairs will extend the useful life of our infrastructure and make it safer for our community to conduct business, run errands, recreate, and enjoy exploring downtown McLean,” Foust said in a press release.

The area around the intersection of Old Chain Bridge Road and Old McLean Village Drive is one of the places slated to receive a sidewalk facelift, according to the press release.

Sidewalks were chosen for the project based on criteria including excessive cracks, severe cross slopes and missing sections.

“Over the last few years, several other infrastructure improvements have been made in the area to make McLean a more walkable and bikeable community,” the press release said.

Construction was expected to begin in April and will likely be finished by the end of June, depending on the weather, according to the press release.

Photo courtesy Fairfax County

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Gov. Northam Makes Testing Work Group — “The group will “make sure all of Virginia’s public and private testing efforts are coordinated and pulling in the same direction,” Northam said during a Monday press conference.” [Inside NoVa]

Local Student Looks to Celebrate the Class of 2020 — “After Loudoun County seniors Arianna Wright and Aiden Bullis came up with the idea to sell class of 2020 signs and distributed 1,000, Abby Diamond wanted the same concept in Fairfax County. The Madison High School senior has started to sell signs reading ‘Class of 2020 senior #allinthistogether’ in support of the 2020 graduates. So far, she’s sold about 100 and has reached various high schools.” [Patch]

ICYMI: Foust’s Budget Meeting is Tonight — “Foust is set to talk to Fairfax County Chief Financial Officer Joe Mondoro about the budget, and answer people’s questions, according to his recent newsletter to constituents. The town hall is set to start at 7 p.m. [on Tuesday.]” [Tysons Reporter]

Distance Learning Challenges Plague FCPS — “School officials say that updates made by Blackboard over the weekend have not corrected delays with the system… The Fairfax County School Board is expected to receive an update on the rollout of distance learning on Thursday (April 23).” [Reston Now]

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Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust plans to host a virtual town hall tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss the revised budget proposal for Fairfax County.

Fairfax County staff revisited the proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 and made changes to address the economic uncertainty and upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, Foust is set to talk to Fairfax County Chief Financial Officer Joe Mondoro about the budget, and answer people’s questions, according to his recent newsletter to constituents.

The town hall is set to start at 7 p.m. tomorrow and will last until 8:30 p.m.

People can can submit questions by calling 703-324-1114, post them in a comment under the Facebook Live event or email them in advance to [email protected] and include “Dranesville District Budget Town Hall” in the subject line.

The town hall will also be shown on Channel 16 and be streamed online.

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Kirby Road in McLean will be closed for much of next week for a culvert replacement.

That the road closure of Kirby Road at Claiborne Drive is expected to last from Tuesday (April 21) to Friday (April 24), according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

In a letter to constituents, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said that work to repair flooding damage to Kirby Road last summer led to the discovery of a failed pipe.

More from Foust’s letter:

The work will be done during the week as daily traffic levels are significantly reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home order. In addition to electronic notices, variable message boards will be installed at the intersections of Route 123 and Kirby Road and Old Dominion Drive and Kirby Road this week to inform drivers of the upcoming closure.

Following the massive July 8 storm event that occurred last year, an extensive emergency repair project was completed to reopen Kirby Road, which had been significantly impacted. While that work was underway, the failure of the pipe that will be replaced during this effort was discovered.

It was determined that additional survey, utilities research, easement acquisition, plan design, and construction would be needed and that the work would take until early 2020 to complete, which was well after Kirby Road was planned to reopen to traffic.

Thus, VDOT decided to substantially complete the Kirby Road emergency project and was able to reopen the road in December 2019. Since then, necessary survey and utilities investigation was completed, access rights were acquired, design plans for the culvert were developed, and materials were acquired to prepare for work to begin next week.

People will still be able to access properties along Kirby Road. “However, traffic will not be able to go beyond the point of pipe replacement in either direction,” according to VDOT.

Photo via VDOT/Twitter

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Welcome back from the long weekend! Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:

McLean Rep Lauds Environmental, Housing Efforts —“Buoyed by his party’s sweeping victories locally and statewide last fall and the infusion of new blood on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Supervisor John Foust (D) was upbeat about a host of initiatives Feb. 20 during his annual “State of McLean” speech to the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce.” [Inside NoVa]

Falls Church Officials Face $1.207 Million City Hall Overrun — “City Manager Wyatt Shields said the cost can be absorbed by the surplus the City built up in the current fiscal year by delaying a first payment on the bond for the new high school and otherwise favorable (low interest rate) economic conditions.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Woes About Broad-Washington Project — “Public access to the parking lot, a surface lot sitting directly behind Thompson Italian, Clare and Don’s and adjacent the State Theatre, is considered by those businesses among their most critical assets for attracting the customers they need to succeed.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Vienna Business Leaders Talk Advocacy — “Vienna’s business owners galvanized and spoke out last July when the Council briefly flirted with rescinding an approved mixed-use rezoning at 374-380 Maple Ave., W. Business people who spoke at the six-hour-long meeting that began July 15 offered a perspective that wasn’t being heard, said Bollettino, adding it was fortunate the Council did not move forward with the proposal.” [Inside NoVa]

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Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors is supporting an application for federal funding to pay for a rehabilitation project along the GW Parkway.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust proposed the board matter, which supports an application for funding from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program.

The funding would support the parkway’s North Section Rehabilitation Program, which aims to reconstruct nearly 8 miles of the GW Parkway from Spout Run Parkway to I-495.

“The proposed project addresses serious deterioration of the parkway and implements significant safety improvements,” the board matter says.

If the funding is approved, the board matter says the National Park Service (NPS) plans to:

  • repave the road
  • repair stormwater management systems and walls
  • rehabilitate two historic, scenic overlooks
  • replace guardrails
  • construct new curbs
  • build emergency turnarounds along the north end

The project will also include work on a northern section, addressing a $1.7 billion maintenance backlog that includes $395 million for the parkway, the board matter says.

More than 33 million vehicles per year travel on the GW Parkway, according to Fairfax County. Last year, emergency work had to fix the cause of a sizable sinkhole on the GW Parkway, disrupting traffic for months in the area.

Foust noted that the project is meant to address safety and longevity issues for the parkway.

The Board of Supervisors voted to approve sending a letter of support for NPS’s application for the federal funding.

Map via Google Maps

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