Tysons, VA

(Updated 3/19/2020) Fairfax County announced today (Sunday) more closures to prevent the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Starting Monday (March 16), indoor parks, community facilities and libraries will be closed for two weeks.

“The impacted facilities include recreation, nature, community, resource and teen centers, as well as golf courses, historic sites and (permitted use of) athletic fields and picnic shelters,” the county said.

Some of the closures will allow the facilities to be used as meal distribution centers, the county said.

Earlier today, the county said it has closed senior and adult day health care centers until further notice.

Image via Fairfax County

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Updated 2/26/2020 — Corrects D’Orazio’s title.

After months of deliberation, the Vienna Town Council still has not decided on a course of action for the parking situation for the upcoming redesign of the Patrick Henry Library.

At the council’s meeting last night (Feb. 24), Mayor Laurie DiRocco lead a conversation regarding a potential timeline for the project and deliberated cost and design options along with the fellow council members.

The parking will serve not only as parking for the library (101 E. Maple Ave) but also for nearby businesses in the town as well.

The parking was the main topic of debate. Currently, there are two options that the council can pursue, according to Michael D’Orazio, Vienna’s deputy director of planning and zoning. One option would include 84 spaces with two levels of parking above the ground-level library, while the option would have 188 spaces and three levels of parking.

Regardless of the option chosen, the town will be responsible for paying either 35% or up to a maximum of $1 million for the design phase, according to a presentation given at the meeting– meaning the town will be getting a better deal.

For the two-story option, the town will have to pay the smaller amount of either 25% or $4.5 million For the three-story option, the town will need to pay either 40% or $9 million.

Working on the current timeframe, the design phase of the project is expected to be completed by March 2022, according to the meeting presentation.

If the Town Council decides to back out of the project at this time, they would only receive a 50% rebate on design costs from Fairfax County, according to D’Orazio. If the town were to back out in Sept. 2021, it would receive an 85% reimbursement.

“That seems higher than I was told on this several years ago,” Councilmember Howard Springsteen said at the meeting, expressing concern over the financial burden on the town.

To help pay for the costs, the mayor said that the town will be applying for grants to help supplement the budget.

To save money, Fairfax County also agreed to waive permit fees for the project, which will save roughly $400,000-$700,000 for the town, according to DiRocco, who said she wants to save the money for a “cushion.”

Going forward, town councilmembers said that they will continue discussions on the best course of action for the parking situation in the town.

Image courtesy Town of Vienna

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As construction kicks off on renovating the Mary Riley Styles Public Library, the library will temporarily move to trailers near Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.

The library (120 N. Virginia Avenue) is set to close on Monday (Feb. 17), according to a press release from the city. The temporary library is set to reopen in mid-March at trailers at 601 S. Oak Street.

According to the press release, the temporary library will be open:

  • Monday-Tuesday, Thursday: 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
  • Wednesdays: 1-9 p.m.
  • Fridays: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturdays: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sundays: 1-5 p.m.

“Visitors may park on the street while minding the posted street signs,” the press release says. “Visitors should be mindful of the surrounding neighborhood and respect private property.”

More from the press release:

The temporary location will host a good selection of books, periodicals, and other media. Programming like book discussion groups, ESL Conversation Groups, and storytime will continue, with some changes; visitors should check the library’s website for exact details.

All due dates for books and other media are extended into March. Once the temporary location opens, books may only be returned there (601. S. Oak Street). No books or media may be returned at the N. Virginia location, including the drive-through book drop, after Friday, February 28.

New interlibrary loan (ILL) requests are not accepted until the library opens in the temporary location (in early March). Starting February 11, patrons will not be able to place new holds until the temporary location opens in March. Previously placed holds will still be available for pick up at 120 N. Virginia Avenue until February 17. Holds will then not be available for pick-up until the temporary location opens.

The Falls Church City Council approved the construction contract for the project on Monday (Feb. 10).

The renovation is set to revamp the aging library, move the Local History Room and improve safety. The project is scheduled to be completed by May 2021, according to the press release.

Map via Google Maps

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The Town of Vienna is moving forward with its plan to add public parking with Patrick Henry Library’s upcoming renovation.

The town is partnering with Fairfax County so that the town can have public parking spots when the county rebuilds the library (101 E. Maple Avenue).

The town is looking to incorporate public parking into a three-story parking garage, according to the Capital Improvement Plan.

Director of Finance Marion Serfass told the Town Council that the town would have 188 spaces, while the library would have 125 — a total of 313 parking spaces.

The parking garage is expected to cost $6.3 million, and the town is seeking a grant from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

The Vienna Town Council approved the 2020-2036 Capital Improvement Plan at their meeting on Monday (Oct. 21).

Image via Town of Vienna

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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 is 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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