Tysons Corner, VA

A park in the City of Falls Church will now honor the city’s oldest business and the family behind it.

Located in the 100 block of W. Broad Street, “the park has generally been known as a downtown plaza, but is now a popular gathering place in the heart of the City in need of a name to identify it for publicity and place-making,” according to city documents.

The Falls Church City Council unanimously voted to name the park “Mr. Brown’s Park” to honor Brown’s Hardware (100 W. Broad Street)and the three generations of Browns that go back to 1883.

A survey of locals showed “overwhelming community support to reference Brown’s Hardware,” according to city documents.

“This park was first created in the 1960s and was significantly renovated this year using funds provided by the Economic Development Authority (EDA),” according to city documents. “The park is currently being used for events such as live music, yoga lessons, and children’s entertainers.”

Jim Snyder, the city’s economic development director, told the council that the park, which was built in 1966, is well used and needs restoration.

Synder also said that the park might get a mural on the wall. “It’s been painted, so we have a blank canvas,” he said.

In response to Councilmember Dan Sze’s question about funding for signage and a gateway to the park, Snyder said that signage will cost about $10,000.

A grand reopening of the park to celebrate the new name will take place on Monday, Sept. 30.

“I think it’s a great name,” Sze said.

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Falls Church city officials have mixed reactions to a proposal that would allow for more downtown development in exchange for protection of certain properties.

City staffers have identified a lack of park and open space, financial pressures to redevelop historic structures and a need for flood prevention as some of the challenges the city faces it pursues its 2024 vision. To address those issues, staffers want the City Council to consider a new program.

The Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program would let development rights get shifted from one area to another in the city. It consists of three components:

  • sending zones: certain areas the community wants to protect
  • receiving zones: areas designated as places for additional development
  • bank: sells available development rights

City staffers have suggested that existing parks and open space, the floodplain and parcels with historic structures become sending zones, while multiple parcels along Broad and Washington streets become receiving zones.

According to the draft proposal:

A Transfer for Development Rights (TDR) program is one possible tool to preserve and increase green space, protect sensitive areas such as floodplains, and preserve historic structures. TDR can also help to diversify the City’s housing stock by creating a tool to facilitate the provision of missing middle housing which is critical to supporting a growing community.

As for the receiving zone, developers would be able to build townhomes or small condo buildings, based on a variety of factors, according to the proposal.

Currently, the city has a special exception process for mixed-use development. Staff said that they envision TDR complementing the special exception process, by allowing infill development on small sites.

The program received mixed reviews from councilmembers during a work session on Tuesday (Sept. 3).

Councilmember Ross Litkenhous noted that if owners of properties along the floodplain sell off the development rights, they would be selling off the value of the future property — possibly leading to home deterioration.

City staff said that the city would purchase — possibly granting a life estate to the current owners — floodplain properties and then tear down homes on those properties once the residents move out.

Councilmember Dan Snyder requested more information from staff about where similar programs have been implemented, downsides, possible public reaction and cost.

“I want to know what are we going to face if we go forward,” he said. “I’m not negative toward the concept, but I’m trying to get a fuller understanding.”

While Snyder said he wants to be supportive of the proposal, he said he doesn’t think the proposal should be on “a fast track right now.” “Are we simply transferring dense development from one place to another?” he questioned.

Meanwhile, Mayor David Tarter took the strongest stance against the proposal.

“I hate to say this, but I have some serious reservations about this plan and I think it has limited applicability,” Tarter said.

Tarter said that if the program is by-right — meaning it wouldn’t go through the special exception process — “unintended consequences” could result.

Tarter pointed to Arlington County, saying that TDRs have to go through the special exception process and that the county retains control of the receiving and sending sites.

“As it’s proposed tonight, as I understand it, there would be limited supervision of the transfer [by the city],” Tarter said, adding that he’s confused about how the transfers would work.

Tarter added that he does want to see the city find cost-efficient ways to buy up floodplain property.

The proposal heads to the work session for the city’s Economic Development Authority on Oct. 1.

Image via City of Falls Church 

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After extreme weather took a toll on Cherry Hill Park, the City of Falls Church has turned the remaining parts of the destroyed trees into art.

Recreation and Parks Director Daniel Schlitt commissioned a local artist to create statues from leftover stumps created by a violent storm last year that killed a few trees, Susan Finarelli, a city spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.

Artist Andrew Mallon lives in Falls Church and specializes in chainsaw log-art. He began work on the installation in early August after Schlitt hired him for the job, Mallon told Tysons Reporter.

The installation includes four different statues, each scattered throughout the park.

The logs portray animals that would be found in neighboring forests, Mallon said. The art includes baby animals, because he thinks of parks as gathering places for families.

Mallon declined to say how much money the city paid him for the work, and Finarelli did not respond to a follow-up email.

The carvings were completed last Friday (Aug. 23) and are now on display for public viewing at 312 Park Avenue, Mallon said.

Photos via City of Falls Church

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Big Chimneys Park in the City of Falls Church will soon welcome new improvements.

Currently, the aging downtown park has a grill, a grass-covered area, picnic tables and a playground at 210 Gibson Street.

The park is named after two big chimneys, which are believed to have been apart of the first permanent structure built on the land in the city, according to the Falls Church Historical Commission.

The 1.7-acre park is slated to undergo an update, which includes:

  • replacing aging play equipment
  • adding ADA access from Gundry Drive
  • updating landscaping and signage
  • creating a new trail
  • improving stormwater management

City Manager Wyatt Shields told the City Council at Monday’s meeting that the project will “really enhance that park and make it more welcoming.”

The construction contract is being finalized with the contractors before work starts in October, Shields said.

Shields said that the council may need to revisit the $1.3 million funding for the park’s improvements in the future.

“We are struggling actually to keep that project within the budget,” Shields said. “I’m hoping it won’t be a problem.”

The project is slated to finish next spring.

Image 1 via Google Maps, image 2 via City of Falls Church 

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(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) A park in the City of Falls Church needs a name.

Located in the 100 block of W. Broad Street, the park is right by downtown shops and restaurants.

Now, city staff recommends that the park gets named “Mr. Brown’s Park” to honor Brown’s Hardware (100 W. Broad Street) — the city’s oldest business, spanning three generations of Browns back to 1883.

Staff teamed up with Council member Letty Hardi, EDA member Erik Pelton and Recreation and Parks Board member Bill Brew to survey locals, which yielded 130 submissions and “overwhelming community support to reference Brown’s Hardware,” according to city documents.

“This park was first created in the 1960s and was significantly renovated this year using funds provided by the Economic Development Authority (EDA),” according to city documents. “The park is currently being used for events such as live music, yoga lessons, and children’s entertainers.”

The city’s Planning Commission is set to review the proposed name — and any other suggestions — at its meeting next Monday (Aug. 5). The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and make a decision on Sept. 9.

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The Mile, a proposed mixed-use development in Tysons, received approval from the Fairfax County Planning Commission last night (Wednesday).

The massive development aims to transform 38 acres of office park east of Tysons Galleria into 10 mixed-use buildings with residential, retail, office, hotel and storage locations.

The development is unique with its multitude of parks — six in total spanning more than 10 acres. The largest one — Signature Park — would encompass an entire block in the development, the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s staff report said, adding:

The Signature Park includes 216,200 square feet (approximately 5 acres) and encompasses the entire land area of Block E. The Signature Park is intended as a regional facility intended by the Plan to serve the greater Tysons area and will include a large open lawn area, a performance stage, gaming areas, picnic areas, a children’s play area, walking/jogging trails, and a water feature. The proffers provide for the possible dedication of this Signature Park to the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA).

Before the vote, Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner, the commissioner for the Providence District, said that he worked with the applicant to resolve seven issues in the staff report.

“This is a complicated project of very high significance for the future of Tysons, so it’s taken some time to work itself through,” he said.

Of those issues, Niedzielski-Eichner commented on three — architectural diversity, payment to the county’s Housing Trust Fund and sidewalks.

He said that the developers will ensure variety with the 10 buildings, which will be constructed over 10-20 years.

“It feels important this level of commitment to diversity of architecture, particularly the skyline, so that the future Planning Commission has a clear narrative on how each building proposed will be different from other buildings on the property,” he said.

As for the fund, Niedzielski-Eichner said that the developers increased their contribution to $1.50 per square foot. Meanwhile, he said that he expects Signature Park and the retail to be a “magnet for future activity.”

Niedzielski-Eichner praised the project for how its urbanization of Tysons.

The development is scheduled to go before the Board of Supervisors next Tuesday (July 16).

Images via Fairfax County Planning Commission

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Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park may soon get a makeover with new lighting, landscaping and better access.

In a unanimous vote on last Monday (July 1), Vienna Town Council members decided to proceed with a grant application for Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park updates.  

The 45-mile-long park is popular with runners and cyclists. Rooted in history, the park follows the old path of the railroad which closed in 1962.  

Director of Parks and Recreation for the town Leslie Herman presented a proposal to the council before the vote.

Herman brought forth safety concerns over four main crosswalks and lack of suitable light in the evenings. She also introduced an idea to remove invasive foliage in the area and replace them with native plants. 

Though Herman was not sure if improvements would increase the use of the trail, she said updates would improve safety for community members who regularly use the path. 

A few of the councilmembers expressed concerns over potential problems with light pollution disrupting neighborhoods along the trails. In response, Herman and the councilmembers bounced around ideas of dimmable LED lighting and motion censored lights. 

“Ambiance is extremely important, especially when we are talking about a trail that people seek out because it has a natural feel to it,” said Councilmember Pasha Majdi. 

The first section of the trail to be updated would start at the community center and move toward Ayr Hill. 

The Recreational Trails Program Grant is modeled after an 80/20 matching reimbursement program. The Parks Department plans to match the required 20% through the Capital Improvement Plan.

Though the maximum amount of money given to a singular grant is $500,000, Herman suggested the town could reapply in order to complete other sections if needed. The next step in the application process is to get a final estimate of costs.   

Photo via Wikipedia, map via NOVA Parks 

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Raglan Road Park between Tysons and Vienna just got a little bigger.

The Fairfax County Park Authority added another acre to the park by buying one acre at 8608 Raglan Road, according to a Fairfax County press release last Wednesday (June 19).

The additional land is meant “to help meet the future recreation needs of the growing Tysons area,” according to the county.

Raglan Road Park, a forested area adjacent to the Old Courthouse Spring Branch Stream Valley, has long been slated for more recreational facilities, and the recent opening of the new Vesper Trail signaled that more amenities might be on the way.

Photo via Facebook

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The Mile, a proposed mixed-use development, is looking to make Tysons North greener.

The development aims to transform 38 acres of office park east of Tysons Galleria into 10 mixed-use buildings with residential, retail, office, hotel and storage locations.

But unlike some developments proposed and built in Tysons, The Mile is planning on adding six new parks totaling more than 10 acres.

The largest one — Signature Park — would encompass an entire block in the development, the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s staff report said, adding:

The Signature Park includes 216,200 square feet (approximately five acres) and encompasses the entire land area of Block E. The Signature Park is intended as a regional facility intended by the Plan to serve the greater Tysons area and will include a large open lawn area, a performance stage, gaming areas, picnic areas, a children’s play area, walking/jogging trails, and a water feature. The proffers provide for the possible dedication of this Signature Park to the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA).

The development also includes a dog park, linear park, recreation park and two urban parks.

At the Planning Commission’s hearing on the project last night (June 19), the commissioners debated whether or not private ownership of Signature Park would open up the possibility of the developers trying to build on that land later on.

Vice Chairman James Hart said that he doesn’t want Signature Park to be privately owned — like most parks are in Tysons, according to Planning Commission staff — saying, “It could become something else five years later.”

Commissioner John Carter, who oversees the Hunter Mill District, said that any changes to the park would put the project over the density limits.

The developer’s representative reaffirmed to the Planning Commission that the developers plan to offer Signature Park to the Fairfax County Park Authority.

John Ulfelder, the planning commissioner for the Dranesville District, raised a concern that was unrelated to the parks: the project’s uniform rooflines.

“In 2010 when we adopted the Tysons Plan, the expectation was we would get a variety of creative and innovative and attractive architecture throughout Tysons,” he said. “As it got developed, I’ve been a little disappointed with what we’ve seen thus far.”

Ulfelder asked to defer the decision on the project to give Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner, the commissioner for the Providence District who was absent, time to review the project.

The Planning Commission decided to defer the decision on the development to July 10.

Images via Fairfax County Planning Commission

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If you’re considering bringing a new pet into your life, DC Shiba Inu Rescue (SIR) is planning a nature hike in McLean with some adoptable dogs.

DC SIR is planning a nature hike at Turkey Run Park in McLean from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. At least four adoptable shibas are planning to attend.

The adoption event is public with no paperwork required.

According to Nathalie Abutaha, president and founder of DC SIR, the group holds monthly adoption events at local boutique pet stores, but the group wanted to try something new for the more shy dogs:

These small spaces can be overwhelming to our shy and fearful dogs. Typically, our more fearful dogs would forgo the busy and crowded monthly events, and they would only have one or two meets with final applicants at their foster home. However, we thought this would be an excellent way for the public to meet some of our rescues who are typically too fearful or stressed to attend the monthly events. Nature walks are beneficial to dogs and people, plus we can create a positive experience and have fun with our dogs while meeting new people. Our Organization regularly does monthly adventures for our alumni (kayaking, hiking, camping, etc.,) but we thought we could try a public hike for our potential adopters.

Photo via DC SIR/Facebook

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