Tysons, VA

A controversy at the library level led to a heated exchanged at Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today (Tuesday) as the Board’s lone Republican pushed back against a motion to ensure the various boards and commissions consider the county’s standards of diversity.

Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay started the meeting with a motion for staff to circulate the One Fairfax policy and training to all boards and commissions and that members sign acknowledgement to confirm they have received and reviewed the policy. The One Fairfax policy adopted in 2017 creates a standard of social and racial equity that the Board of Supervisors committed to considering when making decisions or developing programs and services.

The fight centered around what Supervisor Pat Herrity lambasted as an attack on Phillip Rosenthal, a Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees member who faces calls for resignation from Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and others.

At a July 29 meeting, Rosenthal decried highlighting material about Black Lives Matter and by Muslim authors, Patch first reported.

Backlash to Rosenthal’s comments was swift, but Herrity has vocally defended Rosenthal, who he appointed to the Library Board of Trustees in 2018. At the Board of Supervisors meeting, Herrity defended Rosenthal again and said the motion was a move towards silencing dissent.

“When we try to silence the other side we enter a slippery slope,” Herrity said. “To take someone out because they don’t agree with our political agenda… I think that’s a slippery slope.”

While McKay protested that the board matter wasn’t about an individual person, the text of the item did say “comments made at a recent Library Board of Trustees meeting highlight that we still have a long was to go before we truly become One Fairfax.”

“Things appointee said were hurtful,” McKay said. “I called for his resignation for a lot of reasons.”

Herrity found little support from the other members of the Board of Supervisors, receiving particular rebuke from Dranesville Supervisor John Foust.

“[Herrity] totally misstakes and mischaracterizes the statements Mr. Rosenthal has made,” Foust said. “Everything I hear about Rosenthal is that he’s a decent man who makes many contributions to our community, but his comments at the library board need to be read to understand why so many people were so hurt and why we’re being so misled by Supervisor’s Herrity comments about this.”

Foust ran through a list of Rosenthal’s controversial statements at the library board, which included calling Black Lives Matter activists Marxists and expressing frustration about a reading program aimed at supporting LGBTQ youth.

“To characterize them as Herrity does about the statement for the need for more diverse views in the catalog of books is ridiculous, outrageous, and totally misleading,” Foust said.

Supervisor Dalia Palchik, representing the Providence district, argued that while Herrity had appointed Rosenthal, what Rosenthal said and did reflects on the Board of Supervisors as a whole.

McKay’s motion was passed, with only Herrity voting against it.

Image via Fairfax County

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A Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees member has resigned amid a brewing controversy over comments made by another trustee over the inclusion of diverse titles in the library’s catalog.

Darren Ewing, who represents the Dranesville District, resigned from his position after he stated the library’s catalog homepage was “completely one-sided” at a recent discussion among trustees.

In an email obtained by Patch, Ewing clarified that he did not intend to support the comments of Phillip Rosenthal, the Springfield District representative who is under fire for questioning why Muslim, Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ titles are featured in the catalog.

Here’s more from Patch on Rosenthal’s comments at the July 29 board meeting:

For example, he questioned why Muslim writers were featured but not Catholic, Mormon, Jewish or Baptist writers.

He also took aim at writers involved with the Black Lives Matter movement. On a similar category titled Race in America, Rosenthal said, “Black lives documentaries. Why don’t we have some white lives documentaries?”

And for the category labeled rainbow reads for teens, he said, “Why don’t we have the flipped side of rainbow books for teens?”

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay is joining the NOVA Equity Agenda Coalition’s calls for Rosenthal’s resignation.

“Ultimately, while under the guide of inclusivity, the demand from Mr. Rosenthal serves as a form of division, perpetuating an “us versus them” mentality. It is important now more than ever that we uplift the voices of underprivileged and underrepresented persons in our society,” McKay wrote in an Aug. 26 letter.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity recommended Rosenthal as a trustee in 2018. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved his post.

Fran Millhouser, the chair of the Board of Trustees, has also publicly stated that comments made by Rosenthal and Ewing “do not reflect the collective policies or positions of the full board or of Fairfax County.”

We will not remove materials because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval,” she added.

The Board of Trustees is expected to discuss the issue at a Sept. 9 meeting at 7 p.m.

Photo via Jessica Ruscello/Unsplash

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Hybrid Learning — “BASIS Independent McLean, which like all Virginia schools switched to online-only classes this spring because of the public-health emergency, on Aug. 25 reopened under a hybrid plan combining in-person and online learning.” [Inside NoVa]

Food Insecurity High — “Share of McLean is seeing twice its usual demand for food assistance, and several times its usual demand for emergency financial assistance, as the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exact a heavy toll on the country’s most vulnerable populations.” [Connection Newspapers]

Calls to Remove Library Trustee — “A Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees member is facing criticism for comments about the diverse titles featured on the library’s online catalog. The Virginia Library Association expressed opposition to Phillip Rosenthal’s comments in a letter, while the NOVA Equity Agenda Coalition took it a step further and called for his resignation or removal.” [Patch]

Work Completed Along Route 7 — “The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Phase 1 crews have completed all work along eastbound and westbound Route 7 in Tysons.” [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Photo by Michelle Goldchain

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New Firm Helping Businesses With COVID-19 Rules — “The Tysons firm [Covidless Workplace Services], founded in June, aims to provide businesses with a set of recommendations and guidelines that not only help them comply with regulations but also implement best practices, said co-founder Dirar Hakeem.” [Washington Business Journal]

Koenigsegg Hypercar Will Be Sold in Tysons — “The manufacturer of one of the world’s most exclusive ‘hypercars’ has made it official and announced Tysons-based Exclusive Automotive Group as its only local dealer… The models will only be on site for special events, and even if you choose to acquire one, it’ll take one to two years to get it.” [Washington Business Journal]

Book Demand High — “Local libraries’ physical doors may be shut since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, but their virtual doors are seeing plenty of ‘foot traffic’ at all hours of the day in the City of Falls Church and surrounding areas.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Mask Campaign — “Four of Northern Virginia’s top health care organizations started a campaign Wednesday with a simple message about fighting the coronavirus pandemic: Wear a mask.” [Patch]

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Fairfax County and the Town of Vienna are moving forward with plans for public parking as part of the redevelopment of Patrick Henry Library.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the Town of Vienna on Tuesday for a design and construction agreement.

The redevelopment aims to replace the aging library, which is one of the oldest and busiest of the county’s libraries, according to county staff. Meanwhile, Vienna officials are looking to increase public parking along Maple Avenue.

The redevelopment of the library, which is operated by the county and located in the town, will include a public parking structure. Three ideas were proposed for the number of parking spaces.

The chosen option would have two levels of structured parking with 125 spaces for the library and 84 for the town. The county’s fall back option would offer only 90 surface parking spaces, according to county staff.

The project is included in the FY 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Program. County staff said that the partnership between the town and county on the redevelopment will help meet both localities’ needs in a “more cost-effective manner.”

More from the county:

The project design is scheduled to commence in January 2021 with construction completion at the end of 2024, contingent on the approval of the 2020 Library Bond Referendum. The library project will be designed to meet the pending Green Building Policy updates for LEED and energy performance improvements.

The Town’s contribution for the design phase will not exceed 30% (with a cap of $850,000) of the total design costs, which will be paid to the County in a lump sum after appropriation from the Town’s 2020 Bond Referendum, and prior to the start of the design phase. In addition, the Town will be responsible for 19% (with a cap of $4.2 million) of the total construction costs for a 2-level structured parking garage, payable in three equal payments to the County starting in calendar year 2022.

The upcoming fall 2020 Library Bond Referendum includes $23 million in library bond funding for the Patrick Henry Library. This bond amount is sufficient to address the County’s cost share for the design and construction of the library and either Option A or B1 for the parking structure.

Now that the agreement has been approved, the county and town can move forward on figuring out how to jointly fund the project.

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Dittmar wants to have a temporary “reading park” occupy a site along Leesburg Pike until work on a new hotel starts in a few years.

In 2014, Fairfax County officials approved plans for a hotel on the site, which is on the northbound side of Leesburg Pike at the intersection with Westpark Drive.

Now, Elizabeth Baker, a senior land use planner for Walsh Colucci, told Tysons Reporter that Dittmar plans to temporarily use the site for commercial parking, vehicle storage and the public park before starting work on the hotel.

Baker said that Dittmar expects work to start on the hotel in about five years because the residential development company is currently focused on a project in Rosslyn that will take several years to complete.

The Tysons site previously had a hotel, which has been torn down. Parking from that hotel is still available at the site, Baker said, adding that, until recently, the Meridian Group was using the site for construction staging and parking while The Boro development was underway.

Baker said that Dittmar is paying significant taxes on the site because of the future development. The company wants to make use of the site “so it doesn’t sit in its current state, which is not the most attractive for Tysons,” she said.

Currently, Dittmar has the right to offer commercial off-street parking, which they plan to pursue, Baker said. The developer is seeking the county’s permission to allow vehicle storage and create the pop-up park. The vehicle storage would benefit nearby dealerships who are losing storage due to new developments, Baker said.

“At the same time, [Dittmar is] looking to make some type of gesture toward the future with place-making activity,” Baker said. That’s where the park comes in.

The rectangular park would be located along the western portion of the property.

Baker said that she’s been working with Dittmar and Tysons Partnership on the interim park to serve as an “outdoor reading room” — a nod to the future community library proffered in Tysons.

Sol Glasner, Tysons Partnership’s president and CEO, told Tysons Reporter last week that public parks are one of the key components that the organization is looking into as the area continues to urbanize.

“It is definitely a topic that is a very, very significant topic for Tysons and other urban centers,” he said.

Designed for all ages, the park would have lounging chairs for people who want to read, an outdoor library and food trucks, Baker said.

“It’s a different theme on a pop-up park,” Baker said. “I think it’s kind of fun.”

Baker said that newly accepted application does not yet have a proposed timeline from Fairfax County staff, but she’s hopeful it will take four to five months to progress through the county’s approval process.

Images via Walsh Colucci

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As the state relaxes public health guidelines, Fairfax County public libraries will soon be open to the public.

Beginning Monday, July 13, patrons can take advantage of express services that focus on “grab-and-go style” activities. Patrons can browse shelves, use computers and pick up holds.

But even though the state entered phase three of Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plan, restrictions will be in place. All daily visits will be limited to 30 minutes.

During the first week of express services, library staff will explain the new model and make sure capacity limits are maintained. Disposable masks will also be offered to library patrons.

Here’s more on other modifications:

  • Each branch will have a capacity limit to allow social distancing to take place
  • Virtual programs will continue
  • Meeting rooms will be unavailable
  • Furniture will be removed from the public floor
  • No donated materials will be accepted
  • No print daily newspapers or in-house laptops will be offered
  • No in-person programming will take place
  • Plexiglass shields will be installed at customer service desks
  • Every other PC will be disabled

Curbside services will continue for patrons who are not yet comfortable using library facilities. The service is offered daily except Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Express services will be 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.

Image via Fairfax County

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Juneteenth Rally in Vienna — “A rally will take place outside the First Baptist Church of Vienna Friday evening on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.” [Tysons Reporter]

ICYMI — Government offices in Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church are closed today due to Juneteenth. [Tysons Reporter]

List of LGBTQ+ Books — Fairfax County’s public libraries have a variety of LGBTQ+ books for tweens available in the digital collection. [Fairfax County]

Library Parking Plans Move Forward — “Vienna Town Council members on June 15 approved an agreement with the Fairfax County government for the design and construction of a parking structure at the soon-to-be-renovated Patrick Henry Library.” [Inside NoVa]

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The Vienna Town Council has a full agenda — from the upcoming budget to solar panels to public parking for Patrick Henry Library’s renovation — for tonight’s meeting.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the items the officials will consider.

Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Budget, Tax Rate

The Vienna Town Council will consider adopting the proposed $41 million budget and real estate tax rate of $0.2250 per $100 of assessed value for FY 2020-2021.

The town staff and officials revised the budget due to challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, expecting lower revenues and “a return to more normal circumstances by Dec. 31,” according to town documents.

The changes included decreasing the General Fund by $2.5 million.

Parking at Patrick Henry Library

The councilmembers are set to vote on a design and construction agreement with Fairfax County for the public parking included in Patrick Henry Library’s renovation.

In the agreement, the town would contribute funds for the design and construction of the parking spaces with options to terminate the agreement if the town decides to not move forward with the parking spaces.

More from the town documents:

The design costs for the Town are now capped at the lesser of 30% of the total design costs or $850,000, as compared to draft agreement with the lesser of 35% of the total design costs or $1,000,000. The construction costs for the Town are now capped at the lesser of 19% of the total construction costs or $4,200,000, as compared to the draft agreement with the lesser of 25% of the total construction costs or $4,500,000.

The Town has included funds for the design phase of this project in the 2020 CIP. The intention is to fund the construction phase of the project, at least in part, with transportation grants related to commuter parking. The Town currently is in the process of applying for grants.

The county’s Board of Supervisors also needs to vote on the agreement.

Solar Panel Push

Vienna officials will decide whether or not to approve offering Solarize NOVA this year.

The program, which informs residents and businesses on how to purchase solar energy, first arrived in the town in 2015 and is run by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and the nonprofit Local Energy Alliance Program, according to town documents.

“Since 2015, 29 Solarize contracts have been signed in Vienna for over 230 kW of power. Vienna is the highest zip code for solar kW within the Solarize NOVA campaign,” according to the documents.

The dates for the program are still being finalized, but people can expect the campaign to run from June to September.

COVID-19 Challenges

Vienna officials will also consider re-adopting an emergency ordinance that makes it easier for businesses to use outdoor space.

The ordinance lets Town Manager Mercury Payton allow temporary waivers of zoning regulations to businesses so that they can operate outside.

“Under normal circumstances, business owners would be required to pursue a formal process-delaying their ability to reopen and impeding support for [the] revitalization of the local economy in Vienna,” according to town documents.

The meeting is set to start at 8 p.m.

Image via Town of Vienna

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MCA Backs Building Changes for CityLine — “McLean Citizens Association (MCA) board members on June 3 unanimously backed a resolution supporting CityLine Partners LLC’s proposed development amendments to build one building instead of two at a site in [Tysons].” [Inside NoVa]

Fairfax Officer Arrested After Tasing Black Man — “The actions of a Fairfax County police officer who used a Taser to subdue an African American man on Friday were “horrible” and “disgusting,” Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. says… The officer, Tyler Timberlake, has been charged with three counts of assault and battery and faces up to 36 months in prison if convicted.” [Inside NoVa]

ICYMI: Hundreds Gathered at Falls Church Protest — “Hundreds of people filled Cherry Hill Park on Sunday afternoon for the ‘Falls Church Justice for Black Lives Rally.'” [Tysons Reporter]

High Demand for Libraries’ Curbside Pick-Up — “Across the entire Fairfax County library system, customers demonstrated their hunger for the library’s services by checking out 11,000 items from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, the first day of curbside service. For comparison, on the last Monday prior to branch closures in March, when libraries were operating at full capacity, there were about 12,500 checkouts between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.” [Vienna Patch]

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