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Monday Morning Notes

Second Dead Capitol Police Officer Was Madison Alumnus — The Capitol Police announced on Saturday (Jan. 9) that officer Howard Liebengood had died — reportedly by suicide — after being on the scene when a mob breached the U.S. Capitol last week. Liebengood attended Vienna’s James Madison High School in the 1980s and participated in the school’s wrestling team. [The Washington Post]

Fairfax County Libraries Return to Curbside Service Only — “Effective Monday, Jan. 11, all Fairfax County Public Library branches will provide curbside and virtual services only. Please stay home if you’re sick, if you’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or if you’re awaiting your own COVID-19 test results.” [Fairfax County Public Library]

Bowlero to Move into Former Macy’s at Tysons Galleria — “Bowling alley operator Bowlero plans to open its fifth location in Greater Washington this November at Tysons Galleria…The new location will house 36 bowling lanes, more than 70 arcade games, a full-service kitchen, sports bar and audio-visual capabilities including hi-definition video screens above the bowling lanes.” [Washington Business Journal]

Construction on New George Mason High School Nearly Complete — “The new school set to replace the old George Mason High School in the City of Falls Church will be opened in the coming weeks, but in-person learning may not be allowed despite a recently announced reopening plan.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Fairfax County Requests Flexibility and Funding from State — During a public hearing on Jan. 9, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay told the county’s General Assembly delegation that localities need the flexibility to determine their own priorities as they try to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. [WTOP]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Fairfax County voters approved the sale of $441 million worth of bonds to fund a full slate of pending capital projects during the 2020 general election on Tuesday (Nov. 3).

This year’s ballot featured four separate bond referendums that asked Fairfax County voters to authorize:

Though vote counts won’t be finalized until tomorrow’s noon deadline for absentee ballots, all four referendums passed with ease. The health and human services bonds garnered the most support with 76.5% “yes” votes, followed by parks with 72.4% and transportation with 67.7%. Just under two-thirds of voters (66.1%) supported the public library bonds.

The public library bonds include $23 million for Fairfax County’s planned redevelopment of the Patrick Henry Community Library in Vienna.

Originally built in 1971, Patrick Henry Library operates close to the level of a small regional library as one of the busiest community branches in the Fairfax County Public Library system, according to the county’s FY 2021-2025 adopted capital improvements program.

“Renovation is required to upgrade building systems and infrastructure that are well beyond the end of their life cycle and meet current and future operational needs,” the CIP said. “The building is one of the oldest, resulting in an antiquated layout that does not adequately reflect modern library design and usage.”

The new library bond funds will help expand Patrick Henry Library by roughly 7,000 square feet to a 21,000-square-foot building, permitting more public seating and a larger children’s section.

The renovation will also involve the construction of a 213-space parking facility that the county is working on with the Town of Vienna as part of an agreement approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in July.

Fairfax County’s 2020 parks bond includes $100 million for the Fairfax County Park Authority and $12 million to pay for the county’s share of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority’s capital program, which focuses on resource protection, facility improvements, and the expansion of open space, trails, and recreational opportunities.

Tysons area projects covered by the Fairfax County Park Authority’s bonds funding include an upgrade of McLean Central Park in accordance with the park’s master plan and a renovation of the Providence RECenter to improve its efficiency.

The park bonds also have funds for design advancement for McLean’s Salona Park, even though the project was put on hold in September until the park authority develops a master plan for Langley Fork Park.

Photo via Google Maps

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Young readers now have virtual access to the Fairfax County Public Library through a new program created in partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools

LEAP, or Library Equity Access Pass, started on Oct. 1. The program was initially piloted in 2019 and was created to ensure student access to library materials, even without a library card or an account with the library, according to the program website. 

Now, the program has been adapted to a virtual platform, making access even easier in the midst of the pandemic. 

Through LEAP, students grades PreK-12 only need their name to check out materials. Additionally, the program will never charge fines or fees. Each account will allow students to check out up to three items at a time for six weeks each.

The program has been running for about three weeks and has already served students at each of the county’s branches. While the program hasn’t run long enough to collect specific usage data, LEAP customers and staff have reported questions about the program from across the community.

“Word is spreading, our marketing efforts are reaching people, and the community seems enthusiastic about LEAP,” said Ted Kavich, the administrative services division director of the FCPL. 

In particular, on Oct. 20, the staff at Reston Regional Library worked with staff from Dogwood Elementary School to check out books to local families using the LEAP accounts, according to Kavich. According to the school, more than 15 families were provided with books.  

For more information, students and parents can ask a teacher or librarian at their school, or call any FCPL location. 

Photo via Dogwood Elementary School/Twitter

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Monday Morning Notes

Tysons-based Credit Union Raises $585,000 for Military Veterans — “The PenFed Foundation joined over 75 community and business leaders to raise over $585,000 to support veterans and the military community at the 17th annual Military Heroes Golf Classic on Monday, September 21st.” [PenFed]

How Substantial Park Requirements May Challenge Walkability Goals in Tysons — “Parks can create what urban theorist Jane Jacobs called “border vacuums.” Border vacuums are long stretches of monotonous space separating potential destinations.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Behind the Scenes of Library Book Selection — “Have you ever imagined what goes into the library’s decision to buy a book? Collection Services is the department at Fairfax County Public Library that selects and orders library materials.” [Fairfax County]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Friday Morning Notes

Tysons Library Name Dropped in Restauranteur Memoir — “He mentioned Albert Camus’s ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ — he remembers reading it as a teenager at the library in Tysons Corner, Va, where he grew up…” [New York Times]

Capital One Center Wegmans Slated for Early November Opening — “The Wegmans location at the Capital One Center campus in Tysons is slated to open on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 9 a.m.” [Patch]

Fairfax County Outlines Online Car Tax Payment — “Avoid the lines October 1-5! Pay your car taxes online. See all ways to pay including online, by mail, by phone, in person or drop off.” [Fairfax County]

Tysons-based MicroStrategy CEO Defends Choice to Invest in Bitcoin — “Before the Covid-19 crisis, the Tysons Corner, Virginia-based company had about $500 million mostly invested in short-term U.S. government securities. Saylor began to question that conventional strategy when yields tumbled in the wake of the pandemic. ” [Bloomberg]

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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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