Tysons, VA

NOVA Parks is planning to host a dedication of a new greenhouse entrance to Vienna’s Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in a small ceremony next week.

The new greenhouse will be dedicated as the Volgenau Conservator, named after the Volgenau Foundation that has funded the programs at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.

According to NOVA Parks:

This beautiful greenhouse is the first main feature people will see as they enter the gardens from the Visitor Center. Overlooking the two lakes at the renowned public garden, the Conservatory was funded by a generous gift from the Volgenau Foundation. Meadowlark has grown into the premier garden of Northern Virginia. Its annual Winter Walk of Lights that normally sees over 70,000 visitors, opens early this year on November 11. With staggered online tickets, this show is expected to be more popular than ever this year as a safe outdoor attraction for the whole family.

The ceremony to dedicate the new greenhouse is scheduled for next Tuesday, Oct. 20, though in an effort to keep groups small the dedication will not be open to the public.

Photo via Meadowlark Botanical Gardens/Facebook

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The Dead Run stream restoration completed in-part last year is continuing with improvements planned for the stretch of waterway between Georgetown Pike and Churchill Road in McLean.

Last year’s project revitalized the dream in McLean Central Park, combatting erosion and re-greening portions of the stream to be better suited to local wildlife.

The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services Stormwater Planning Division has scheduled a virtual meeting to discuss the project on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 6:30 p.m.

The Fairfax County government website said the upcoming expansion of that restoration will tackle the part of the stream north of the earlier improvements and include re-greening along one of the main tributaries.

“The project is a continuation of the stream restoration that was completed through McLean Central Park,” the Stormwater Planning Division said on its website. “It will begin at Churchill Road and extend to Georgetown Pike. The tributary behind the Saint Luke Serbian Orthodox Church is included in this scope of work.”

Stormwater Planning Division said part of the project’s goals is added protection to nearby properties at risk from the negative effects of erosion.

“Property will be protected by providing a stable stream bed, banks and alignment, which will reduce the rate of stream bank erosion and channel migration; trees at risk of falling will be removed or protected where possible; native vegetation will be installed to hold soil in place and provide habitat,” the Stormwater Planning Division said. “Health and safety will be protected via improved water quality, protection of public utilities, such as sanitary sewer lines, within the floodplain and stabilization of stream banks.”

The project design is expected to be completed by July 2021.

Image via Fairfax County

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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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With the weather turning and more locals looking to take their workouts indoors, the Park Authority has announced a series of changes to the reservation system as the RECenter continues to reopen.

“As we move forward with our phased approach to RECenter operations, we need your help to assure that we can continue to operate safely in an ongoing pandemic,” the Park Authority said. “Beginning this fall, our RECenters will begin to offer a modified class program schedule and swim team pool rentals. Balancing these additional member needs with the requirements to assure appropriate COVID-19 safety measures will be more important than ever. Please help us ensure that we can make the most of our limited space so that all members have the greatest access possible to our facilities.”

The Park Authority asked that people only place reservations for times they will be in the facility, and call ahead to cancel if they can’t make it.

“We ask that you cancel at least 24 hours in advance so we can remove your reservation and make it available to other members,” the Park Authority said.

Starting on Monday, Oct. 5, the online reservation page is going through some changes to reflect an increase in capacity.

New reservation titles will be available for:

  • Fitness Center Tickets
  • Lap Swim/Water Walking Tickets
  • Recreation Swim Ticket
  • Aqua Flex Ticket

Under the new system, the reservation will be held for 30 minutes, after which it will be made available to others on a walk-in basis. Two no-shows result in a call from the Park Authority.

“Our primary goal remains the safe accommodation of as many current members, class participants and contracted swim organizations as possible under current COVID-19 standards,” the Park Authority said.

Reservations can be made online.

Photo via Google Maps

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While a new $112 million bond referendum is on the ballot for November, further planning for Salona Park in McLean will remain on hold.

The 2020 bond will include money for design planning of Salona Park, though the planning will remain paused pending approval of the Langley Fork Park master plan.

Planning for Langley Fork Park will be contingent on the completion of a land exchange that has been years in the making with the National Park Service that includes Langley Oaks Park.

“We need to figure out what’s going to be at Langley Oaks Park, and then we can really finish planning Salona based on what would go on in this other park,” said Judy Pederson, public information officer for the Fairfax County Park Authority. “Once the master plan is approved, then we will start to plan out Salona Park and that master planning process.”

As the process moves along and eventually reaches the planning phase for Salona Park, there will be more community discussion to find a middle ground with members of the public on the eventual development of the park.

Consideration during the planning process for Salona Park will weigh the previous planning efforts, community input, and take into account the current conditions at the site and whether the needs of the community have changed over the years.

“It’s really going to depend on what’s right for the community and what kind of consensus we can find,” Pederson said. “So that’s the great unknown.”

Salona Park was granted to the Fairfax County Park Authority under a conservation easement in 2005. Plans for Salona Park were previously discussed in 2012, but were not solidified due to a divergence in public opinion over whether the park should be preserved in a natural state or used as an athletic field.

Following community input and approval from the Board of Supervisors for the county, the master plan will also need to be approved by the county’s planning commission.

“There are just too many unknowns for us to really prognosticate on the timing,” Pederson said. “All I can say is that we’re ready to start. And we just will be working with the supervisor to figure out what the first next step will be.”

Photo via Google Maps

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A new $112 million bond referendum on the ballot this November could help finance a series of improvements to parks and recreational facilities around Tysons and McLean.

Several recreation centers around the County are slated for improvements and renovations as part of the bond, including extensive renovations at the Providence RECenter.

A report on RECenters from 2018 found that the Providence one, which was built in 1982, is not equipped to handle the growing need nearby. The facility is only 48,655 square feet, one of the smallest in the system despite having the second largest number of nearby residents served by the facility. The report recommended that Providence and three other RECenters be expanded to suit the climbing need.

The report notes that the Providence RECenter’s market is predominately older adults with a modest household income.

The bond could also finance upgrades to Ruckstuhl Park in Idylwood and McLean Central Park in McLean. The bond could also help advance design work at the long-awaited recreational additions to Salona Park in McLean.

Photo via Fairfax County

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This afternoon, the Vienna Town Council unanimously approved the use of outdoor gathering space for churches, schools and other non-commercial entities during the ongoing pandemic.

The ordinance will allow groups to socially distance and meet under safer conditions by avoiding indoor spaces with less air circulation.

A town attorney said that the council made the ordinance as broad as they could, as to make it inclusive for groups that need it.

“The good news is that if we left anything out in a rush, the good news is that it will come back before you,” the attorney said to the council, noting that they will have to vote to readopt it in 60 days.

Mayor Linda Colbert said at the meeting that she was greeted this morning before the vote by students from Green Hedges at her weekly “meet the mayor” event. The kids and their headmaster all encouraged the council to vote yes on the proposition.

The council also received emails and correspondence from church groups in the area, pushing for the changes, according to the town clerk.

“If you can get the kids out of the classroom and out into the open air, I think is safer in general,” councilmember Nisha Patel previously said.

The change comes after the council approved to extend the use of outdoor space for commercial businesses yesterday.

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Falls Church’s Sunset Cinema is coming back for its 17th year with new safety measures due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The annual event screens movies at Cherry Hill Park. This year, the movies will start at 7:45 on Fridays.

The event will be held in a socially distant format with spots marked across the lawn. Up to 20 households are permitted, and people must bring their own seats, blankets, snacks and masks, the city recently announced. 

The movie lineup is:

  • Sept. 18: “Moana” 
  • Sept. 25: “Onward” 
  • Oct. 2: “Remember the Titans” 

People must pre-register for the free movies. Registration for city residents starts on Monday, Aug. 24, and on Monday, Aug. 31, for non-city residents. Households can only register for one Sunset Cinema event.

Space is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to the city. In the case of inclement weather, registrants will be notified of a movie make-up date.  

Image via the Falls Church website

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The City of Falls Church unveiled a new permit to help businesses and nonprofits to use outdoor space for classes and events.

The city announced yesterday (Tuesday) that the Temporary Outdoor Commercial Activity Permit will tentatively be available until Oct. 1, with the possibility that the end date might get extended.

Eight areas in the city are available to rent, including the Cherry Hill Park Basketball Court, designated grass area at Cherry Hill Farmhouse/Park and Mr. Brown’s Park. Normally, Mr. Brown’s Park is the only city park that businesses and organizations can rent for commercial activity.

Rentals are $20 per hour, along with a $200 security deposit. Applications are accpeted on a first-come, first-serve basis, the city said, noting that the permit does not apply to outdoor dining or service related to food or alcohol.

When using the outdoor space, people must follow the governor’s orders to social distance, wear face coverings and disinfect areas.

“We recognize that a lot of city businesses and non-profits are looking for ways to create safe environments for their customers and supporters,” Danny Schlitt, the parks and recreation director, said in a press release. “If they feel that open air venues help them safely deliver a service or program, then we want to help by temporarily allowing the rental of our parks. We are all in this together!”

Photo by Bradley Brister/Unsplash

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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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