County Library Launches Book Selection Service — “Beginning today, all of our branches are offering a new service called Library to Go. Not sure what to read? Simply fill out an online form and our librarians will fill a bag for you to pick up! It’s a great way to discover new-to-you titles.” [Fairfax County Public Library/Facebook]
Vienna to Honor Local Volunteers Today — “Volunteers who have made a difference in Vienna over the last two years will be recognized at the Mayor’s Volunteer Reception on Tuesday. The public is invited to attend the event hosted by Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert and former Mayor Laurie DiRocco at 6:30 p.m. on the Town Green. The location was moved from the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department to the Town Green due to a recent increase in delta variant COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County.” [Patch]
Afghan Resettlement Efforts Face Challenges — “Finding housing and hiring teachers are among the challenges facing resettlement agencies and school administrators in Northern Virginia who are preparing to accommodate many of the over 1,100 Afghan refugees expected to be resettled in the state.” [Inside NoVA]
Fairfax County will kick off another design phase for its redevelopment of the Patrick Henry Library (101 Maple Avenue East) in Vienna this fall, about one year after voters approved bond funding for the project.
The 2020 library bond included $23 million to replace the existing 13,800 square-foot facility with a 21,000 square-foot library as well as a parking garage that will be jointly funded by the county and the Town of Vienna.
“The County is currently finalizing the design contract with the selected design team, RRMM Architects,” Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services spokesperson Sharon North said. “Design will initiate this Fall 2021.”
Originally opened in 1971, the Patrick Henry Library was last renovated in 1995 and is now one of the busiest community locations in the county’s public library system, according to North.
According to the FY 2021-2025 capital improvements program (CIP), the current building has an antiquated layout that does not reflect modern library design or use. The planned expansion will add 7,000 square feet with more public seating and a larger children’s section.
North says the new facility will also have “upgraded building systems for operations and energy efficiency” with the goal of achieving LEED Gold certification.
“Statistics for this location indicate the door count is 4.6% of the system’s FY 2016 total and its circulation is higher than all but one other community [library] and greater than Sherwood Regional,” the CIP said. “Program attendance is consistently among the highest for a community location and customers at this location are diverse and represent a cross-section of County population. Usage patterns indicate that of the locations in this cluster, this branch is a preferred destination of many patrons.”
Initial designs for the redeveloped library were presented to the Town of Vienna in 2019.
After some uncertainty, Vienna also came to an agreement with Fairfax County last year on the construction of a 213-space parking garage that will serve the new library and the general town. North said the parking garage is included in the design of the project.
Given the current timetable, it could be late 2024 or early 2025 before the new Patrick Henry library is finished.
“Once the design contract is awarded, its typically a 1-2 year design & permitting process, and 2 year construction process,” North said. “Final design would be late Fall 2022/Early Spring 2023, based on current project schedule and then construction would commence after that.”
(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Over 8,000 people in Fairfax County still don’t have electricity this evening (Wednesday) as crews work to restore power and clear downed trees, the aftermath of last night’s thunderstorm.
Commuters were experiencing delays as part of Leesburg Pike that’s requiring detours. Emergency responders shut down the roadway between George C. Marshall and Dominion drives in Falls Church due to downed trees and power lines there.
Police told Tysons Reporter around 4:30 p.m. that the road remains closed in both directions and that power crews are attempting to clear the roadway and restore power, which could be completed in 10-12 hours.
“Follow detour signs in the area and please drive with caution,” Fairfax County Police Department said on Twitter.
Leesburg Pike remains shut down between George C Marshall Dr and Dominion Dr in Falls Church due to downed trees and power lines in the roadway. Follow detour signs in the area and please drive with caution #FCPD pic.twitter.com/FAFAYoEDRh
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) August 11, 2021
The Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library was closed due to the ongoing power outage resulting from fallen trees and downed power lines on Route 7, which remains closed for about a quarter-mile from the I-495 interchange.
A Fairfax County Public Library spokesperson confirmed the Tysons-Pimmit closure to Tysons Reporter and added that the Kingstowne and Sherwood Regional branches were also shut down at 11 a.m. due to a lack of power.
Leesburg Pike inside just I-495 is closed for about a 1/4 mile. Huge tree took down 4 poles & 2 spans of wires lay across Route 7.
— Peggy Fox (@PeggyDomEnergy) August 11, 2021
Metrobus warned of possible delays as it rerouted buses going in both directions on Route 28A due to the scene.
Metro’s Orange Line has also been experiencing numerous delays late last night and into this morning.
While power was restored to the West Falls Church station around 9:45 p.m. yesterday after a storm-related outage, service was suspended again an hour later between Vienna and East Falls Church in response to “an unauthorized person” on the train tracks at West Falls Church.
Lingering power issues outside Dunn Loring then contributed to delays as far as New Carrollton in Maryland; starting around 5 a.m., Metrorail reported that normal service on the Orange Line had resumed about an hour later, but by 7 a.m., a disabled train at Dunn Loring triggered more delays, this time in Vienna.
Metrorail said at 7:45 a.m. to expect delays in both directions on the Orange Line due to the “train malfunction” at Dunn Loring.
While electricity has been restored for many of the 50,000-plus Fairfax County residents who lost power last night, thousands of Dominion Energy customers are still without power, primarily in the Merrifield and Falls Church area.
Many businesses in the Pimmit and Falls Church areas put up signs indicating that they are closed due to the power outages, including the Whole Foods, Capital One Bank, Orangetheory Fitness, and My Eye Doctor in Idylwood Plaza.
At Tysons Station plaza, store after store posted closed signs. The sign for Java Loco Coffee said it expected to be closed for the day. Trader Joe’s used two freezer trucks in the rear of the plaza to store meats and food beginning last night when the store’s power went out, an employee said. Also in the rear of the plaza, Tyson’s Barber regained power around 11 a.m., a worker said Wednesday with a sigh of relief.
Behind Tysons Station plaza, a detached Seven-11 was closed, but a Sunoco gas station had its pumps working as well as electricity. Across from Tysons Station, an Exxon had no pumps working, and an employee operated the store in the dark for cash-paying customers and regulars.
According to the utility company’s outage map, Dominion expects power to be restored between 7 p.m. today and midnight, mirroring similar restoration estimates for nearby areas.
— Peter Kiley (@PDad) August 11, 2021
Meanwhile, a heat advisory will be in effect today from noon until 8 p.m., and an excessive heat watch, where dangerously hot conditions are possible, will be in effect for tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon and evening.
The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is reminding people to use air conditioning, avoid direct sunlight, choose appropriate clothing, hydrate, and follow other safety tips.
The Falls Church Community Center has been turned into a cooling center until 8 p.m., the City of Falls Church announced this morning. Face coverings and social distancing are required for all, and visitors must sign a COVID-19 waiver.
The city also shared information about how to handle fallen trees and suggested reporting downed power lines to the police department at 703-241-5053.
“Community members should play it safe in the aftermath of last night’s storm that left many without power today as well as downed trees and branches,” the city said in its news release.
Falls Church City residents may see a delay in trash and recycling collections today. Bins that are not collected by 4 p.m. can be reported to the city’s Solid Waste Hotline 703-248-5160, option 1.
Severe thunderstorms and flash floods are possible during afternoon and evening hours from today through Saturday.
Construction Begins on New Tysons ER — “HCA Virginia, the health system behind Reston Hospital Center, has started construction on a Tysons emergency room and aims to open it in early 2022…Located at 8240 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Emergency will be an ER open 24 hours daily with full-service emergency care.” [Patch]
Just 40% of Metro Workers Vaccinated Against COVID-19 — “Metro’s top executive warned employees Monday that the transit system might start mandatory coronavirus tests if the agency’s vaccination rate doesn’t climb to at least 70 percent. Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a memo to employees that about 40 percent of Metro’s workforce has indicated being vaccinated in an employee database.” [The Washington Post]
I-66 Widening Work Still on Schedule — Work on the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project remains on schedule for the extended toll lanes to open in December 2022, the Virginia Department of Transportation says. Nearly 2,000 workers are currently involved in the project with bridges and ramps at the I-66/I-495 interchange among the most noticeable construction. [Inside NoVA]
Tysons Library Book Sales Return — For the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library friends’ group will host a book sale. To avoid overcrowding, attendees on the first day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 18 will be required to register for a two-hour time slot in advance, but entry will not be restricted for the rest of the sale from Aug. 19-22. [Fairfax County Public Library]
With federal money that gives low-income households a discount on internet service set to run out this year, Fairfax County leaders and staff are looking at ways to ensure people get access to broadband internet, which they’ve likened to a utility like electricity or water.
A staff report presented to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ information technology committee on Tuesday (June 15) found that there are significant disparities in internet access among homes in the county due to infrastructure and affordability.
While different county representatives — from the school system to the Department of Family Services — were collaborating prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, they started looking more intently at equity issues during the pandemic, as technology needs hit a crescendo between students attending school from home and job seekers looking for work.
“Many of us saw at the outset how difficult it was for community members to work from home or for their children to be educated from home — whether or not they had the technology available, if they had strong enough internet connectivity, if they had space in their own homes to do this, or if they were trying to locate wireless within the community and do all of this from their own cars,” Fairfax County Public Library Director Jessica Hudson said.
Some zip codes are more affected by this lack of connectivity than others.
According to an analysis presented by the county, an estimated 4.2% of households in the county have no broadband internet access, but that number jumps up to 20.8% in the zip code 22044 and 18.8% in zip code 22041, both neighborhoods in the Seven Corners area of Falls Church.
The gaps in connectivity are concentrated in areas with many people of color and lower-income households, Fairfax County Chief Equity Officer Karla Bruce said on Tuesday.
The Federal Communications Commission internet discount, known as the Emergency Broadband Benefit or EBB, helps lower-income households get a $50 discount each month for broadband service, among other benefits.
Officials are continuing to share information about the program, providing outreach in multiple languages and partnering with nonprofits and other community organizations.
You can still get the discount even if you have another benefit called Lifeline, which provides a $9.25 monthly discount indefinitely, Hudson said.
But the $3.2 billion fund set up to provide the EBB benefits nationwide is expected to run out this year, possibly around Thanksgiving, according to Hudson.
Among the county’s efforts to improve access, the library system offers Chromebooks that people can check out for two weeks at a time, along with extended exterior WiFi access outside buildings (except in parking garages) from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In addition, Neighborhood and Community Services is conducting a countywide analysis of Wi-Fi access, and the Department of Housing and Community Development and Redevelopment and Housing Authority are conducting a site analysis to address connectivity barriers, according to the county presentation.
“All of these community agencies are trying their hardest to find ways to connect with residents and make sure that they have appropriate technology, digital literacy skills, and access points,” Hudson said.
County supervisors asked for more information to target areas in need as part of the county’s efforts to help overcome access issues.
Photo via Josefa nDiaz/Unsplash
Westbound I-66 to Close Overnight Starting Tomorrow — “Work at the Interstate 66 and Capital Beltway interchange will require a full I-66 closure in the westbound direction over several upcoming days. The Virginia Department of Transportation said westbound I-66 will be closed at I-495 nightly from Tuesday, June 15 to Saturday, June 19. Closure hours are 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly and until 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.” [Patch]
Vienna Reaffirms Commitment to Library Parking Project — “Vienna officials still can back out of an agreement with Fairfax County to build a new Patrick Henry Library with a parking structure, but now the town financially has something to lose. Vienna Town Council members on June 7 reconfirmed the town’s participation in the agreement and agreed to support the project’s design phase.” [Sun Gazette]
Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Supports Amendment — “The board of directors of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce formally signed off on a letter to the Fairfax County Planning Commission in advance of its meeting next Tuesday. The letter, sent over the signature of Falls Church Executive Director Sally Cole, expressed the Chamber’s strong support for an amendment to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan to permit mixed use development at WMATA’s West Falls Church Metro station site.” [Falls Church News-Press]
McLean Home of Retired Football Quarterback for Sale — “In April, the veteran quarterback Alex Smith announced his retirement from the NFL. Now Smith is leaving the Washington, DC, metro behind. He’s listed his gorgeous mansion in McLean, VA, for $6.7 million.” [Sun Sentinel]
(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Fairfax County libraries will return to their pre-pandemic state of operations in June — with a few exceptions.
Starting on June 5, standard circulation procedures will resume, including the return of fines on overdue materials and hold expirations, and visitors won’t have to navigate time or capacity limits, Fairfax County Public Library announced yesterday (Thursday).
In addition, public computers can be used in 30-minute increments with unlimited sessions allowed, and meeting rooms will once again be available for public bookings.
In a change from its earlier operations, FCPL says it will introduce expanded hours at its 23 branches, with the eight regional branches opening from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Wednesdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays through Sundays.
The 14 community branches will open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays. Community branches will not be open on Sundays.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, FCPL had been in line for a funding boost to support longer, more consistent operating hours and allow branches to acquire more materials, but that plan was put on hold after the pandemic forced the county to pull back on its spending.
FCPL Communications and Marketing Director Erin Julius confirmed that the expanded hours coming next month are not the result of any new funding.
“FCPL moved around hours to provide the best service we can under existing budget constraints,” she told Tysons Reporter.
Since temporarily closing in March 2020, FCPL has been gradually transitioning back to normal, in-person operations, but library officials plan to retain some of the practices adopted during the pandemic that have proven popular.
Introduced in June to limit contact between staff and patrons, curbside services will still be an option for patrons looking to pick up materials without needing to go inside. It will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on days when branches are open.
Libraries will also continue offering “robust” virtual programming to complement the in-person programs that will be allowed to resume indoors and outdoors on June 5.
The initial response to FCPL’s announcement suggests that people “are thrilled” that curbside pickups will continue, Julius says.
FCPL Director Jessica Hudson says curbside service “has been immensely popular” and virtual programming “has been a boon” for patrons, freeing them from worrying about logistical issues like traffic and parking.
“Even as things are reopening and we’re getting back to ‘normal’, the library wants to continue to offer programs and services which the public is asking for,” Hudson said by email. “…We look forward to seeing our library users in the method that suits them best!”
In accordance with Virginia’s guidelines, some public health protocols will remain in place even when FCPL resumes full services:
Due to capacity restraints, branches cannot yet accept donations.
Plexiglas shields at customer service desks will remain in place at this time.
FCPL continues to follow Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and local Health Department guidance on mask wearing and social distancing. All visitors are welcome to continue to wear masks, if they choose, and caregivers are expected to ensure that their children ages 5 through 12 follow current masking guidance.
Please do not visit a branch if you have COVID-19 symptoms, have been exposed to someone who tested positive or are awaiting COVID-19 test results.
Correction: The name of Fairfax County Public Library’s director has been corrected. Her name is Jessica Hudson, not Jennifer as originally stated.
Photo via Fairfax County
Beginning March 22, Fairfax County Public Library branches will reopen for indoor services.
But library patrons will only be able to visit FCPL branches for up to 30 minutes. Branches will open on Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and from Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The changes come after the system offered curbside and online services since mid-January.
Each branch will have capacity limits of up to 30 people for community branches and 60 people for regional branches. Customers over five must wear masks at all times.
The system will also institute a number of social distancing measures, including plexiglass shields, social distancing floor stickers, and limited furniture.
Book donations are still not being accepted, and returned library materials will be quarantined for 24 hours. Meeting rooms remain unavailable.
Even as express services resume, curbside services will continue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Sunday.
Great news!! https://t.co/3eSGcwTDyR
— Supervisor Walter Alcorn (@WalterAlcornFFX) March 5, 2021
Photo via Fairfax County
Fairfax County Public Library Introduces Text Service — “Beginning today [Mar. 1], you can text your #Fairfax library questions to 571-556-5025 and receive answers in real time 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Monday thru Friday. If it’s not during those real-time hours, send a text & a ticket will be automatically generated. We’ll respond when available.” [Fairfax County Public Library/Twitter]
New Police Reform Laws Take Effect — Several police reform laws passed during the Virginia General Assembly’s special session last year took effect yesterday, including a ban on no-knock search warrants, new statewide training standards related to racial bias and deescalation, and a “Marcus Alert” system that limits the role of law enforcement in responding to behavioral health issues. [@GovernorVA/Twitter]
Fairfax County Seeks Input on Active Transportation Plan — “The ActiveFairfax Transportation Plan will establish a vision and a roadmap for implementation of safe, convenient, and enjoyable streets, sidewalks, bike facilities, and trails in Fairfax County. “Community input is critical to the success of this planning effort,” said Chris Wells, the Active Transportation Program Manager at FCDOT.” [Fairfax County Department of Transportation]
McLean High School Kicks Off Football Season With a Win — “The McLean Highlanders opened their high-school football season with a 28-14 victory over the visiting Mount Vernon Majors on Feb. 27. McLean fell behind 7-0 on a long touchdown pass, then rallied.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.
We’ve searched the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean, and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!
Tuesday (Feb. 16)
- Mystery Book Group (Online) — 7-8 p.m. — The Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library’s mystery book group will discuss Cara Black’s “Murder in Bel-Air” for its February meeting. Register with Fairfax County Public Library for a link to the event.
Wednesday (Feb. 17)
- Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement (Online) — 7-7:30 p.m. — The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Lambda Kappa Omega Chapter is sponsoring a discussion about the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s and the Black Arts Movement that was active during the 1960s and 1970s. Register for the online event through Fairfax County Public Library.
Thursday (Feb. 18)
- Middle School Book Club (Online) — 4-5 p.m. — The Mary Riley Styles Public Library’s book club for sixth to eighth-grade kids will discuss the young adult novel “Tangerine” by Edward Bloor for its February meeting. Email Laura Miller at [email protected] for the Zoom link.
- Vision Board Workshop (Online) — 6 p.m. — The Boro in Tysons is holding a virtual workshop with the art studio CraftJam on vision boarding, which involves creating a collage of images or objects that reflect your goals for the future. Participants should register in advance to reserve a spot and receive a list of suggested materials.
Friday (Feb. 19)
- Mayor’s Walk — 9:30 a.m. at Vienna Town Hall (127 Center St. S) — Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert will take her monthly stroll from town hall to give community members an opportunity to chat or ask a question.
- Virtual Black History Program (Online) — 7-8 p.m. — Fairfax County is celebrating February as Black History Month with a night of discussion and music. Speakers will include Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, County Executive Bryan Hill, Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, and George Mason University Director of African and African-American Studies Mark Hopson. The event will also feature hip-hop artist Dumi RIGHT and musical selections from actor Amber Iman, The Hamilton Brothers, and more. The event will stream live on TV and online through Channel 16, and it will be available to view on demand afterwards.
- Virtual Family Bingo Night (Online) — 7-9 p.m. — Preregistration is recommended for the McLean Community Center Old Firehouse’s virtual bingo night, which will feature games and prizes. The event costs $5 per person for five bingo cards.
Saturday (Feb. 20)
- McLean CBC Virtual Open House (Online) — 9-11 a.m. — Fairfax County is holding a virtual community open house to discuss the latest draft of its revised comprehensive plan for the McLean Community Business District. The meeting can be attended through WebEx.
- Fairfax COVID-19 Vaccine Information Session (Online) — 10-11 a.m. — AARP is hosting a talk about the COVID-19 vaccine with Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, who can answer questions about how the vaccine works, how much it costs, and the process for getting vaccinated. Register for the virtual event through AARP’s website.
- Freedom and Dance for All (Online) — 1-2 p.m. — Educator and author Clarence McFerren II will talk about dance as a freeing outlet for Black communities in the face of social injustice. Vienna’s Patrick Henry Public Library is organizing the event, and participants must register in advance to receive a link.
Photo via Dr. Wendy Longo/Flickr