Tysons Corner, VA

Locals may spot a new sculpture outside Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library in the near future.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is slated to approve a public art donation from Promila and Krishan Chhabra at the meeting next Tuesday (Sept. 25).

The Chhabras want to mount a bronze, life-size sculpture by artist Dennis Smith of a girl reading a book outside the library’s front window.

The piece is meant to help beautify the library, according to county staff.

More from county staff:

After she retired from the Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) system in 2017, Ms. Promila Chhabra and her husband, Krishan, looked for a way to express her gratitude to the county for her fulfilling career as a library aide at the library. The couple became inspired by the idea of donating a monument for installation on the library grounds…

The donors envision mounting the bronze on a 3-foot cinderblock pedestal with brick siding and a polished black stone pedestal top, with a small plaque on one side of the pedestal that states the dedication is made “in honor of Promila Chhabra’s years of service” to the library.

If the county board OKs the donation, the Chhabras would then select the contractor and pay for the construction costs.

Photos via Fairfax County

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The Mary Riley Styles Public Library in Falls Church is reporting $2 million in unforeseen expenses for its upcoming renovation project.

The city is working to revamp the history room and add 3,174 square feet, along with new features to the aging Mary Riley Styles Public Library (120 N. Virginia Avenue). Voters approved the estimated $8.3 million budget in fall 2016.

Currently, the total estimated budget for the project is $10.8 million and has a shortfall of $2.1 million, Project Manager Joel Timmins said.

“So far we have spent $1.3 million,” Timmins said.

At a Falls Church City Council meeting last night (Monday), representatives of the library project said that unexpected costs stemmed from streetscape design, LEED Silver certification, added security measures and other areas.

Mark Manetti from BKV Group said that the upgraded library will be about two points short of receiving LEED Silver certification and that the team might need to purchase off-site credits to reach the 50-point minimum.

“To spend that kind of money to buy off-site credits is kind of anathema. Are there things we could do here to achieve LEED Silver?” Councilmember Dan Sze said. “Is it more tinkling with the HVAC? Is it more insulation?”

“I would have a preference to on-site energy reductions, efficiencies, et cetera as opposed to buying off-site credits,” Mayor David Tarter said.

Timmins said that the city’s Planning Commission said that the project needs a streetscape and the arborist recommended irrigation, which added costs.

Manetti added that the team didn’t realize initially that the project would need a streetscape design.

City Manager Wyatt Shields said that the library’s board and staff were primarily focused on the library when determining the original budget estimates for the project.

“I should have raised my hand and said we need to expand this to do the full site and the streetscape,” Shields said.

Shields added that he should have escalated the consultant’s estimate in 2014.

“Working with a 2014 number is difficult and not realistic or practical,” Shields said.

“What we asked the voters to approve for this particular project for generally what we wanted to do both in terms of expanding square footage and all of the stuff that comes along with it — forget cost escalation, forget tariffs, forget all of that — it just never seemed to comport,” Councilmember Ross Litkenhous said.

Litkenhous said he is frustrated that the referendum for the voters was $8 million instead of a higher number.

“If the referendum had said $12 million or $14 million, it probably still would have passed,” he said. “At the end of the day, there is going to be a cost overrun and it’s going to be significant.”

The total cost should be determined within a few weeks, Timmins said. Construction is slated to start by February. The library is scheduled to reopen March 2021.

Councilmember Phil Duncan said that he’s “fairly satisfied with what we’re paying.”

“The more I talk — the more all of us talk — the more expensive it gets,” Duncan said.

Image via City of Falls Church

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(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) The Town of Vienna is mulling over three preliminary designs concepts for Patrick Henry Library’s upcoming renovation.

Opened in 1971, Patrick Henry Library (101 E. Maple Avenue) is set to be rebuilt as part of a $91 million bond referendum to upgrade Fairfax County’s aging libraries. The town looking to partner with the county so that the town can have public parking spots at the new library site.

Grimm and Parker presented three design concepts that incorporate public parking to the councilmembers last Monday (Aug. 19)

The first design concept (Option A) would build a stand-alone, two-story building and have surface parking for 90 cars. The design has a modern design, according to the presentation:

The building orientation allows for a large expanse of glass to the north along Maple Avenue. This northern glass will provide ample natural light for the library users and provide views into the library from Maple Avenue. The rest of the building is clad in a variegated grey metal panel. The glass and metal cladding create a modern identity and gives the library a strong presence on the corner.

The last two concepts share the same idea of having a single-level library with an integrated parking garage, both with 125 spots for the library.

Option B1 would have 84 spaces for the town, while Option B2 would have 188 spaces for the town and require a height variance for the extra level of parking.

The last two options have a storefront-esque design. According to Grimm and Parker:

In this option the Maple Avenue facade is designed to resemble a traditional urban main street with glass display windows and canopies… The varied facade expressions help to reduce the scale of the building. A variegated metal cladding is used on the stair and elevator towers to distinguish them from the brick of the library and to draw attention to the public access to the parking garage. Canopies along Maple Avenue create an identity for the library and provide a human scale to the building.

The designs concepts are not set in stone and could change between now and when the county makes the final decision about the library design, a spokesperson for the town told Tysons Reporter.

Tysons Reporter wants to know what you about the design concepts.

Images via Town of Vienna

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Mothers Out Front Fairfax, the local climate change branch of a national movement, is advocating for electric school buses in Fairfax County.

More than 40 people gathered at a room in the Patrick Henry Library (101 E. Maple Avenue) in the Town of Vienna for the “Clean Buses for Kids” campaign launch last evening (Tuesday).

Bobby Monacella, the co-leader of Mothers Out Front Fairfax and the mother of two kids attending the county’s public schools, told the attendees that electric buses seem like a “no brainer.”

“They are safer. They’re healthier. They are less expensive to expensive to operate. The maintenance is much less. The cost of electricity versus diesel is much less,” Monacella said.

She added that the push for electric school buses needs to start now because of the life cycle of diesel school buses.

“It made us realize we simply can’t buy one more diesel school bus because it lasts us 15 years and with the cost of fuel emissions, our kids’ future can’t wait for that,” she said.

Since electric school buses don’t have an engine, muffler or alternator that requires tune-ups, the lifetime fuel and maintenance savings over diesel buses total $170,000, according to a Mothers Out Front Fairfax press release.

Some places around the country have already made the switch from diesel to electric school fleets, including schools in California and New York.

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) runs one of the largest school bus fleets in the U.S. with more than 1,600 buses.

Karl Frisch, the Democratic candidate for the Providence District seat on the FCPS School Board, said that a switch to electric buses would attract companies, further diversifying businesses in the county.

Pat Hynes, who represents the Hunter Mill District on the school board, told Tysons Reporter that the cost of switching to electric buses is the main challenge facing the school board.

“I think it really comes down to the upfront cost not only for the buses, which are three times more expensive than the diesel buses, there’s also an investment that has to made in the infrastructure,” Hynes said, adding that the buses would need chargers.

Hynes said that “it’s a win, win, win” if the local government partners with the state government and also the local utility company to help defray the upfront costs.

Overall, Hynes said she thinks the school board will support the campaign as long as the electric buses aren’t more expensive than diesel-fueled ones in the long term.

“Every statement that the board has made in the last couple years in favor of taking some leadership on climate change has been supported almost unanimously,” Hynes said.

The school board and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors also jointly formed the Joint Environmental Task Force to lead on climate action, Hynes said, adding that the task force will hold its inaugural meeting on Sept. 3 at the Mason District Government Center (6507 Columbia Pike).

“That is where policy will begin for both boards — the school board and the county board,” she said.

Del. Mark Keam (D-35th District) said that the conversation about electric buses should be broadened beyond talking about the environment.

“This isn’t about Julie taking care of her daughter or me taking care of my kids… It’s about Mother Earth suffering,” Keam said. “That’s why I think this conversation should start and end with the bigger picture of climate change and where we are with this crisis.”

At the end of the campaign launch, the group urged attendees to sign a petition urging the school board to buy a test bus in 2020 and request a small number of electric buses by 2021.

The group aims to replace FCPS buses with electric ones by 2024.

“When moms get involved, things happen,” Keam said to cheers.

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As the Town of Vienna awaits Fairfax County’s renovation of the Patrick Henry Library, the Town Council continues to drive forward a proposed public parking garage.

The Town Council is set to hear a presentation tonight (Monday) from Grimm and Parker about several ideas that could incorporate public parking in the project.

Opened in 1971, Patrick Henry Library (101 E. Maple Avenue) is set to be rebuilt as part of a $91 million bond referendum to upgrade the county’s aging libraries. Mayor Laurie DiRocco previously said that the library got moved up in the county’s renovation schedule from 2026 to 2022.

Ultimately, the town wants cost-effective public parking that will create a synergy between the library and the surrounding commercial area, according to a report from Grimm and Parker.

“Parking is critical to the success of the Patrick Henry Library. The current parking supply often does not meet the demand,” the report said. “Additionally, the Town of Vienna is experiencing a parking shortfall for the Maple Avenue Corridor.”

According to the report, the three designs concepts for the library and parking are:

  • a stand-alone, two-story building with surface parking for 90 cars;
  • a single-level library with an integrated parking garage with 125 spots for the library and 84 for the town;
  • or a single-level library with an integrated parking garage with 125 spaces for the library and 188 for the town

Prior to the meeting, the Town Council will hold a work session about the final phase of the scope of work for the multimodal transportation study of the Maple Avenue Corridor that is being done by Kimley-Horn.

“Based on the future land use scenario results, Kimley-Horn will present potential multimodal transportation improvements for discussion with Town citizens in a workshop format,” according to the town’s website.

The final community workshop for the study will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m.

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Starting today, residents and business owners can head to the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library to seek low-interest loans to help pay for flood damage repairs.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust shared in a newsletter to constituents Monday (Aug. 12) information about two loan centers — Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike) and the Arlington County Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street).

Gov. Ralph Northam announced last Thursday (Aug. 8) that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will offer low-interest federal loans to people affected by the July 8 flooding in the City of Falls Church, along with Fairfax and Arlington counties and the City of Alexandria.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million, while homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for damaged or destroyed real estate and up to $40,000 for personal property.

“In addition, the County has waived any permit fees that might apply to reconstruction efforts,” Foust wrote.

More from the newsletter:

The SBA may increase loans by up to 20 percent if officials verify the extent of physical damages. Agency officials also may support efforts by applicants to build storm shelters or safe rooms to protect against damage from a similar natural disaster in the future.

SBA officials will set the loans’ terms and amounts based on applicants’ financial conditions. The agency will offer loans with terms of up to 30 years and interest rates as low as 1.938 percent for renters and homeowners, 2.75 percent for non-profits, and 4 percent for businesses.

The loan center at the Tysons-Pimmit library will be open:

  • Tuesday-Thursday, Aug. 13-15: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 16: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 17: 1-5 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 19: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

The loan center in Arlington will be open the same days and times, except for different hours on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Both centers will be closed on Sunday, Aug. 18.

“SBA officials will be available to answer questions about the agency’s disaster-loan programs and help applicants fill out the necessary forms,” Foust wrote in the newsletter.

Residents have until Oct. 7 to request a loan to cover physical property damage, while businesses have until May 7, 2020, to request a loan for economic injury.

Photo via Fairfax County

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The history room at the Mary Riley Styles Public Library in the City of Falls Church will temporarily close beginning Sunday, Aug. 18.

The closure comes after the city’s decision to revamp the room, which officials said is not in a position to meet the growing demand, into a “larger, more prominent” space at the aging library (120 N. Virginia Avenue).

The renovation includes adding 3,174 square feet, along with new features that will ensure a quieter and more comfortable experience for visitors.

“The new room will also again have regular weekly hours to encourage drop-ins and generally increase access,” the website said.

While the renovations are taking place, the files and documentation will be placed in storage and won’t be available for public access until the renovation is completed in late 2020 or early 2021. However, people can still search for photos, death notices and obituaries online.

By 2033, the library’s website said it expects more than 35,000 people to take advantage of the sources available in the history room.

Image via City of Falls Church

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Fairfax County Public Library is trying something new this year — a county-wide, adult summer reading challenge.

In years past, various branches held individual challenges for adults, but after demand rose, the county designed a unified program, according to Mary Mulrenan, a spokesperson for FCPL.

“A small committee worked together to create a system-wide program that would provide a way for all library customers to participate,” she said.

So far, participants have turned in 1,534 logs to the library — significantly more than they originally anticipated, according to Mulrenan. “We are surveying customers and to date, 73 people have completed our survey. Out of this number, 92% have rated it excellent or very good and 95% will participate again next summer.”

Anyone interested in participating can pick up reading logs at any local FCPL branch or print them out on the website. The nearest location is the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike).

To complete the challenge, participants must complete two reading logs, each consisting of a challenge to read or listen to four books and complete one other task, like trying out the library’s research database or following FCPL’s social media accounts.

Participants who return one log will be given goodies such as free snacks, discounts, fine forgiveness at the library or free entry to a Fairfax County recreation center.

Upon completion of a second log, participants will receive a drawstring bag and be entered into a drawing at the end of the summer for a canvas bag filled with a Barnes and Noble gift card, a journal and a portable beach blanket. Individual branches may offer additional prizes, according to the county library website.

Anyone interested in participating can still turn in reading logs until Aug. 31.

The library plans to offer more incentives next summer, due to this year’s high demand.

“It’s wonderful that we have exceeded that number and we still have time (one month) to gain more finishers. We also hope to encourage more businesses to sponsor coupons,” Mulrenan said.

Image via Fairfax County

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Vienna police arrested a 29-year-old man who allegedly hit a boy at Foster’s Grille.

The incident occurred at noon on Sunday (July 7) at the restaurant’s Vienna location (138 W. Maple Avenue).

From the police report:

A citizen was in Foster’s Grill with her juvenile son. A man was seated at the bar, randomly yelling and making the other customers uncomfortable. At one point, the man got up, went behind the juvenile, and struck him on the back. The man then left the restaurant.

Officers located the man in the area and found him to be incoherent. The man became irate with the officers, and it was determined that he may be a danger to himself or others.

Police arrested the man, who is a resident of Cornflower Court in Vienna, on an Emergency Custody Order and took him to a nearby medical facility for an evaluation.

Police told the mom about the warrant process if she wants to pursue charges against the man for misdemeanor assault on her son.

Around 12:40 p.m. while police were investigating the alleged assault, a different man came up to the boy and asked about the police activity, according to the report.

“The man was advised by officers to continue on his way,” police said, adding that the man walked through the middle of the investigation. “At one point, the man approached the juvenile and made a statement that concerned the juvenile.”

Police said that the man eventually left the area.

In a separate incident, Vienna police are looking for the man who allegedly exposed himself in Patrick Henry Library last month.

The incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. on June 27. Police said a woman reported that “she was in the library when an unknown man exposed himself in front of her.”

The man then left the library (101 E. Maple Avenue), and police were not able to find him, according to the police report.

Photo via Facebook

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As the Tysons-Pimmit Library continues its quarterly book sales, the library might get a new place to help store some of its books.

Fairfax County is looking to lease a property it owns to the Friends of Tysons-Pimmit Library, the non-profit that provides funding for the library.

“One of the primary methods for the Friends to raise this funding is to hold ongoing book sales at the library as well as much larger book marketplaces on a quarterly basis,” according to county documents.

The nonprofit plans to construct a 199-square-foot brick-faced building next to the library “to assist in their preparations for the book sales,” according to the county. The shed would store books and materials needed for the book sales.

The county’s Board of Supervisors OK’d today (Tuesday) to let residents know about a public hearing on the matter, which is set to be held on July 30 at 4 p.m.

Photo via Friends of the Tysons-Pimmit Library

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