Newsletter

Updated at 4:50 p.m. — The gas leak at Dolley Madison Library has stopped, and all Fairfax County Fire and Rescue units have returned to service, the department has reported.

Washington Gas said in a statement that it discovered a gas line had been damaged by a contractor, but the company was able to stop the flow of gas around 3:30 p.m., and it’s now working to repair the line. There has been no impact to customers other than the library, and service will be restored there after repairs are complete.

Earlier: Dolley Madison Library and the McLean Community Center have been evacuated due to a gas leak at the library, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says.

Both facilities have been closed, as has a stretch of Ingleside Avenue by Oak Ridge Avenue.

Fire department units are currently on the scene at 1244 Oak Ridge Avenue in McLean. The department says a gas pipeline was struck by workers, but so far, the identity of the workers and the project they were involved with is unclear.

In a 2:33 p.m. update, FCFRD shared that the line is 2 inches in size, and the leak had been stabilized with no injuries reported. Washington Gas has arrived at the scene and is currently working to stop the leak.

MCC says the Old Firehouse Center will still be open for its after school program.

Traffic on Ingleside Avenue by Oak Ridge is being diverted.

David Taube contributed to this report.

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A new website called McLean Today launched last week with the ambitious aim of being a one-stop shop for all things related to events, activities, and shopping around McLean.

The website is a Voltron-like collaboration of several local groups: the McLean Citizens Association, the McLean Chamber of Commerce, the McLean Community Center, the McLean Revitalization Corporation, the McLean Planning Committee, and the McLean Project for the Arts.

“McLean residents and visitors looking for dinner, a local activity, a special gift or a hard-to-find item will find their search simplified by using the recently released McLean Today website,” a press release from the site said. “McLean Today, the collaborative effort of several local community organizations, is a new one-stop site to find many of the activities, events, goods and services that are close to home.”

The site’s lead organizer is local resident Kim Dorgan, who is also on the board of directors for the McLean Revitalization Corporation.

“McLean Today is your go-to source for the latest information on the activities and events, goods and services offered here in our hometown,” Dorgan said in the press release. “There is so much great information out there about what McLean has to offer, but there has been no central source to find what is offered day-in and day-out. With McLean Today, you can find what you need close to home in one place with a single search.”

The site has a selection of local dining options categorized by type. According to the press release, there are over 40 food and drink outlets listed on the site, as well as 100 businesses within walking distance or a “short drive” from McLean.

The McLean Today website launches even as Fairfax County works to do more on a planning and policy level to revitalize McLean’s downtown. The press release also notes that the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses played a role in inspiring the website’s creation.

“The aim of McLean Today is to provide a list of activities and events in one place that have community-wide impact and are of interest to the general public,” Dorgan said. “While its primary focus is the economic center of McLean in the downtown corridor, it will include activities and events throughout all of greater McLean.”

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The Borisevich Duo, featuring pianist Margarita Loukachkina and violinist Nikita Borisevich, will perform at The Alden in McLean (courtesy The Alden Theatre)

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, The Alden hopes to bring a drop of golden sun with the upcoming launch of its fall season, which will bring audiences back into the theater for the first time since the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue) closed in March 2020.

Kicking off on Oct. 16, the lineup features four musical acts and a performance by the dance company Pilobolus, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary starting in October.

In a statement, MCC Executive Director Daniel Singh says he and the center’s performing arts staff, led by director Sarah Schallern Treff, designed the season around themes of recovery, reimagining, and reconnecting — all of them linked by the prefix and musical note “re,” which he says suggests a transition as the last step in the solfege scale.

“‘Re’ embodies the tension of our times — the venturing out into the world away from home base, the uncertainty of the future and the pull between the two,” Singh said. “Keeping this framework in mind, this fall, we are offering several programs that are familiar and comforting, but we also have new directions for our patrons to explore with us. We hope you find both old and new communities at McLean Community Center.”

Face masks will be mandatory inside The Alden, as they are in the rest of the community center, and to enable proper social distancing, every other row in the auditorium will be blocked off, with at least two empty seats between each party, according to the theater’s website.

All employees, artists, and volunteers will be required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test from within the past week, and theater workers will undergo regular health screenings.

The Alden is also relaxing its refund policy, allowing patrons to get their money back for a show until curtain time, so that people will feel free to stay home if they feel sick.

Here is the full lineup of performances for this fall from MCC’s news release, issued Tuesday (Sept. 28):

The Okee Dokee Brothers
Saturday & Sunday, Oct. 16-17, 1 p.m. & 4 p.m.
$20/$15 MCC district residents
As the GRAMMY-winning Okee Dokee Brothers, Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander, have built a plaid-shirted national following with their outdoor adventure-themed albums, “Through The Woods,” “Can You Canoe?” and “Winterland.” But whether it’s indoors or out, the Okee Dokee Brothers believe that as long as folks are singing together there’s a glimpse of hope for our world.

The Borisevich Duo
Sunday, Oct. 24, 2 p.m.
$10/$5 MCC district residents
The Borisevich Duo, featuring pianist Margarita Loukachkina and violinist Nikita Borisevich, is an internationally acclaimed violin and piano duet, frequently performing across the United States and Europe.

Native American Fusion Music with D’DAT (Virtual Workshop)
Wednesday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m.
Free Admission. Registration is required.
Learn more about the composition process and culture before D’DAT’s performance in The Alden this January. D’DAT’s music mixes three American art forms–jazz, native southwest and hip-hop styles–to create a sound that is uniquely theirs. This is a great opportunity for musicians of all ages to learn directly from the artists and ask questions.

“Joy to the World: A Christmas Musical Journey” with Damien Sneed
Wednesday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m.
$30/$20 MCC district residents
Award-winning, multi-genre recording artist and instrumentalist Damien Sneed is a pianist, vocalist, organist, composer, conductor, arranger, producer and arts educator whose work spans multiple genres. “Joy to the World” takes the listener through Damien Sneed’s original arrangements of gospel, jazz and classical favorites.

A Klezmer Hanukkah with Alexandria Kleztet
Saturday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m.
$20/$15 MCC district residents
Hanukkah comes early this year, but the Alexandria Kleztet keeps the party going with festive Klezmer tunes and a little jazz thrown in. Chag Sameach!

Pilobolus “Come to Your Senses”
Sunday, Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m.
$40/$30 MCC district residents
Pilobolus invites you to “Come to Your Senses!” Engage with childlike wonder in the miracle of your senses through both classic and brand-new repertory that begins by examining our biology and ends by utilizing the senses in a refreshing immersion in the biosphere.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online or by contacting Alden Patron Services Manager Evelyn Hill at [email protected] or 571-296-8385.

While the auditorium has been closed, The Alden hasn’t been entirely out of commission during the pandemic. The theater staged two “Drive-Thru Drama” productions last summer, where audiences watched actors perform from their vehicles like they would for a drive-in movie screening.

The Alden has also hosted some online and smaller in-person events, including yesterday’s “123 Andres” performance.

MCC says The Alden will continue its new season with additional performances “centered on recovery, re-imagining, reaffirming, and reconnecting with each other” in the coming winter and spring.

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Morning Notes

Vienna Debates Zoning Changes for Lot Coverage — As part of its ongoing zoning code rewrite, the Vienna Town Council held a public hearing on Monday (Sept. 27) to get feedback on proposals to ease the town’s 25% limit on lot coverage for residential properties. Commenters were split on whether to maintain the existing rules or allow more space for front porches, decks, and other structures. [Sun Gazette]

County to Give Update on Clemyjontri Master Plan Revision — “The Fairfax County Park Authority is holding a Public Comment Meeting to gather public input on the draft master plan revision for Clemyjontri Park. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021 at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at Franklin Sherman Elementary School located at 6633 Brawner Street, McLean, Virginia.” [FCPA]

MCC Board Commits to Prioritizing Equity — The McLean Community Center Governing Board issued a statement yesterday (Wednesday) saying it will make diversity, equity, inclusion, and access top considerations when developing facilities and programming. The commitment aligns the organization with Fairfax County’s One Fairfax policy “to promote a responsive, caring and inclusive culture.” [MCC]

Photos: Wolf Trap Concludes 50th Anniversary Season — “The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts closed out its 50th anniversary season over the weekend, with a giant gala that raised over $2 million.” [Washingtonian]

Firefighters Wear Capes to Cheer Up Inova Patients — “Earlier [Tuesday], #FCFRD firefighters rappelled down the @InovaHealth Children’s Hospital building to visit and encourage young patients. ‘I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.’ — Superman” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Twitter]

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The McLean Community Center Governing Board will hold a public hearing tonight (Wednesday) on its proposed budget for fiscal year 2023. The board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at MCC’s 1234 Ingleside Avenue facility.

While COVID-19 has been a source of difficulty, the proposed $6.3 million FY 2023 budget is based on “assuming operations will be under normal conditions for the full year,” according to proposed budget draft.

Program revenue for FY 2021 was $929,000 lower than the adopted budget, though MCC also saved roughly $1 million in operating expenses.

The community center continues to be challenged by the effects of the pandemic in the current fiscal year 2022. Program and event registration has increased, with alternate and virtual programs still being made available, but safety precautions still require lower occupancy limits.

For FY 2023, the proposed revenue projections are as follows:

  • Real estate tax: $5.2 million
  • Interest on investments: $20,000
  • Rec class fees — instructional programs: $467,300
  • Special events: $53,400
  • Performing arts — theatre: $114,550
  • Youth program fees: $138,910
  • Old Firehouse Teen Center: $212,500
  • Visual arts activity fees: $0
  • Miscellaneous (facility rentals, ad revenue, etc.): $89,325

The proposed budget would cover 389 recreational classes, 169 performing arts events, seven youth events, and 14 special events, including a Fourth of July celebration, McLean Day, and the annual McLean 5K.

MCC’s summer camps are also expected to generate $126,000 at full capacity.

Operating expenses addressed by the budget include the annual operation of the center and regular costs of facility maintenance, utilities, instructor fees, theatre productions, and operating costs for events. The personnel expenses include salaries, as well as taxes and benefits.

Preliminary projections for expenses include the following:

  • Administrative service: $974,115
  • Facilities services: $864,365
  • Public information: $508,947
  • Recreational class — instructional programs: $771,737
  • Special events: $633,746
  • Performing arts — theatre: $1,539,733
  • Youth program: $353,555
  • Teen center: $696,629
  • Visual arts activity: $25,000

Capital improvement projects on the docket for FY23 include electric vehicle charging stations, shade and sails, a community mural, and $750,000 to renovate the community center’s roof.

The governing board is scheduled to approve an FY23 budget when it meets on Oct. 27.

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Students with the Traveling Players will perform at Tysons Corner Center on Sept. 26 (courtesy Traveling Players Ensemble)

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 (Sept. 21)

  • Indigo Girls with Ani DiFranco at Wolf Trap — 8 p.m. at the Filene Center (1551 Trap Road) — Joined by feminist singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco, the Grammy Award-winning folk-rock duo returns once again to Wolf Trap park. Proof of a vaccination or negative test for COVID-19 is required. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and tickets start at $45.50.

Wednesday (Sept. 22)

  • Bo-Nita — 8-9:30 p.m. at Boro Park (8350 Broad St.) — Tysons theater company 1st Stage continues its run of its latest play, which runs through Sunday (Sept. 26). The show follows the story of a 13-year-old girl and her mother trying to survive. Tickets start at $20, with discounts for military members and students.

Thursday (Sept. 23)

  • The Avett Brothers at Wolf Trap — 8 p.m. at the Filene Center (1551 Trap Road) — The indie folk band, a Wolf Trap favorite, comes back to the park its knows-no-bounds sound ranging from bluegrass to acoustic rock. Proof of a vaccination or negative test for COVID-19 is required. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and tickets start at $50. Another performance is scheduled for Friday.
  • (Not) Strictly Painting — 7-8 p.m. at McLean Project for the Arts (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — The opening reception for a juried art exhibit kicks off. Works from over three dozen artists will be featured.

Friday (Sept. 24)

  • Sunset Cinema — 7:45-10 p.m. at Cherry Hill Park (312 Park Ave.) — Falls Church City’s fall outdoor movie series continues with “Cars.” Visitors are encouraged to grab blankets, bring picnics, and/or enjoy snacks, drinks, and popcorn for sale.
  • Parmalee — 6:30 p.m. at The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — Closing out a September concert series is country music band Parmalee, known for its No. 1 Country Airplay hitCarolina.” Doors open at 5 p.m.

Saturday (Sept. 25)

  • Teens on the Green — 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Vienna Town Green (144 Maple Ave. East) — The Town of Vienna highlights teenage artists with a free concert open to the public.
  • Harvest Happenings — 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) — Celebrate fall with this indoor and outdoor festival that features a petting zoo, entertainment, crafts, and games. Pumpkins will be available for purchase. Registration is required.
  • Fall Festival — 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at Mosaic District (2910 District Ave.) — This two-day outdoor festival features crafts, a beer garden, kids activities, live entertainment from local artists Pop Stereo and Groovalicious, and more.
  • Fall Fest — 12-4 p.m. at The Boro (8350 Broad St.) — The Tysons development ushers in fall with a family-friendly event featuring games, seasonal beverages, doughnut decorating, a hayride photo booth, and more.

Sunday (Sept. 26)

  • The Blue Monster — 1:30-2:30 p.m. at The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — Middle school students with the Tysons-based Traveling Players Ensemble will take the stage to perform the family-friendly fairy tale, Carlo Gozzi’s twist on the “Beauty and the Beast” story.
  • Pimmit Hills Day — 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in Olney Park (1840 Olney Road) — Led by the Pimmit Hills Citizens’ Association, a neighborhood celebration brings together entertainment, food, and kids-friendly activities, including a moon bounce obstacle course.
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Morning Notes

Lieutenant Governor Candidates Speak at Tysons Luncheon — “Candidates for lieutenant governor of Virginia told their personal stories and articulated their values at a Sept. 1 luncheon in Tysons, but provided few specifics on what they would seek to accomplish if elected.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

MCC to Hold Public Meeting on Budget Tonight — “The McLean Community Center (MCC) Governing Board will hold two, in-person budget meetings this month in order to gather input and suggestions from the residents of Dranesville Small District 1-A on the Center’s fiscal year 2023 budget. The first meeting, the Finance Committee Meeting of the Whole, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 8.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Tysons Startup Raises Millions in Funding — The Tysons-based startup theCut, a mobile platform that enables users to book and pay for barbershop appointments, announced last week that it has raised $4.5 million in seed money, bringing its total funding to $5.35 million to date. Company leaders say they will use the funds to build out a team that currently consists of 20 employees, including interns. [DC Inno]

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Morning Notes

Local Woman Gets First Haircut in 17 Years — “There is the slightest chance that as the scissors close in on Zahab Kamal Khan’s hair Thursday morning at the McLean Community Center, she will break from the crowd and the TV news crews and make a run for it. After all, Zahab’s hair — all 6 feet, 3 inches of it — is one of her most prized possessions. She’s been growing it for 17 years, since she was 13.” [The Washington Post]

Vienna Church Celebrates 150th Anniversary — “Vienna Presbyterian Church began in 1871 with nine people — seven female members and two male elders — and in the decades since has ministered to people both in the local area and around the world. The church celebrated its 150th anniversary Aug. 22 with sermons, testimonials, song and fellowship.” [Sun Gazette]

Enjoy Tysons Boulevard Lane Closure — “Looking for a family friendly activity this weekend? Come be #activeintysons because we are hosting a Back-to-School Meetup this Saturday from 10AM-12PM, in Tysons #openstreet along Tysons Blvd. We hope to see you rain or shine for story time with Tysons School Board Representive, Karl Frisch, light refreshments, fun and games!” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]

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Vienna’s Chillin’ on Church block party returns this Friday (via Town of Vienna/Facebook)

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 (Aug 17)

  • 123 Andrés at Wolf Trap — 10:30 a.m. at Theatre-in-the-Woods at Wolf Trap (1551 Trap Road) — Latin Grammy winners 123 Andrés brings a full band, high energy show recommended for children ages four to eight. Listen to the songs in both English and Spanish about family and community. Audience members are welcomed to sing and dance along!

Wednesday (Aug 18)

  • Soul In Motion at Wolf Trap — 10:30 a.m. at Theatre-in-the-Woods at Wolf Trap (1551 Trap Road)Soul in Motion features dances, rhythms and folklore songs from the traditional cultures in Senegal, Guinea, Brazil, and Cuba. Unique percussion instruments like djembes, djundjun, and shekeres will be introduced to the audience in this trip around the world.

Thursday (Aug 19)

Friday (Aug 20)

Saturday (Aug 21)

  • Falu at Wolf Trap — 10:30 a.m. at Theatre-in-the-Woods at Wolf Trap (1551 Trap Road) — Grammy-nominated Falu and her band will take the Wolf Trap audience on a musical journey through South Asia and around the world. Falu teaches South Asian culture through song in three languages: English, Hindi, and Gujarati.
  • Zakir Hussain and Red Baraat at Wolf Trap — 7:30 p.m. at Filene Center (1551 Trap Road) — Percussionist Zakir Hussain and party band Red Baraat team up with Falu’s Bollywood Orchestra for an evening of “high-energy Indian fusion with the timeless elegance of Bollywood’s musical golden age.”
  • Making Opera Soup — 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. & 3-4:30 p.m. at Boro Park (8350 Broad Street) — This show written by and starring award-winning opera singer Lori Brown Mirabal will kick off 1st Stage Theater’s Logan Festival of Solo Performance on Saturday and Sunday. See the 1st Stage website for times and more details.
  • Tinner Hill Music Festival — 11 a.m.-9 p.m. at Cherry Park (312 Park Ave.) — The 27th Tinner Hill Music Festival will celebrate local African American culture with a day-long concert, food, face painting, petting zoos, yoga and more. The full lineup of musicians, food vendors, and activities can be found on the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation’s website. Buy tickets online.

Sunday (Aug 22)

  • Yacht Rock Revue at Wolf Trap — 8 p.m. at Filene Center (1551 Trap Road) — A Yacht Rock Revue performance is the late 70s/early 80s in a nutshell: soft rock hits, tight bell-bottom jeans, sunglasses at night, breezy dancing, and sax. Tickets start at $27.

Photo via Town of Vienna/Twitter

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McLean Central Park redesign concept plan (via Fairfax County)

A plan to overhaul McLean Central Park has won over the support of the McLean Community Center (MCC), but the organization recommends Fairfax County make a few changes to help alleviate safety concerns raised by some locals.

The MCC is a county-run and taxpayer-financed program that offers activities, classes, shows and more for McLean adults and children.

In a letter to the Fairfax County Park Authority, the 11-member MCC Governing Board highlighted three parts of the plan that will help improve programming at the park: an amphitheater, an accessible drop off point, and public art.

In its letter, the MCC says it currently utilizes the park for several activities, including a Sunday Summer Concert Series that brings music and performances to the park gazebo, but the gazebo is too small to fit the kind of programming that it wants to provide.

“While the MCC regularly provides programming at the current park gazebo, this facility is small and does not provide scalable space for current and future programming,” the MCC said. “The MCC Board supports the development of a sustainable amphitheater space furnished with technical equipment, public seating, and accessible and environmentally sustainable restroom facilities.”

The MCC says there are an average of 150-275 participants in the free Sunday Concert Sessions, though sometimes that has been as high at 450 people. The board requests that the amphitheater be designed with that capacity in mind.

The existing gazebo also has no technical infrastructure and inadequate electricity, the MCC says, which causes the organization to incur a $2,000 cost in labor per-event. The MCC also has a modular sound system valued at $87,000 that needs replacing every five to seven years.

The MCC says the overhaul proposed by the county would help the park better serve as a community gathering place.

“The lack of accessible outdoor performance and cultural space in the McLean area limits the nature of cultural exchange and dialogue,” the MCC said. “The countywide Strategic Plan prioritizes cultural and recreational opportunities. The improvements to the [McLean Central Park], including the Amphitheater, support these goals and the ability to bring all generations together.

The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) had shared earlier concerns that turning the park into an attraction could create problems for nearby residential neighborhoods. The MCA also expressed skepticism that there is a need for a large ampitheater.

In a June letter to the park authority, MCA President Rob Jackson cited possible pedestrian safety issues, suggesting the county should study traffic impact and mitigation alternatives and have a professional conduct a parking study.

In its letter, the MCC Board recommends “expedited” construction of a pedestrian bridge across Dolly Madison Boulevard “to provide safe and sustainable pedestrian access and reduce traffic and congestion.”

“A bridge would serve as a physical connector and embody the vision of the McLean Central Business District expressed by the version of the McLean Community Business Center Plan approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on June 22, 2021,” the MCC said.

The public comment period for the McLean Central Park plan has been extended to July 30.

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