ACLU of Virginia Sues Over Optional Mask Order — The civil rights organization filed a lawsuit against Gov. Glenn Youngkin yesterday (Tuesday), saying that his executive order making face masks optional in schools “shows a reckless disregard for students with disabilities.” The move comes as Fairfax County Public Schools prepares for a hearing in its joint lawsuit in Arlington County Circuit Court at 1 p.m. today (Wednesday). [WUSA9]
County Launches Black History Project — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and public school system are collaborating on a Black/African American Experience Project to capture, share, and preserve those aspects of the county’s history. The effort includes collecting oral histories, supporting student activities and research, and identifying options for new historical markers. [Fairfax County Government]
Tysons Software Company Expands — “Tysons’ Appian Corp. has been on a fierce hiring spree, and now it’s adding more space to accommodate those new employees. The low-code software company, which has seen demand for its products grow during the pandemic, is taking on two additional floors at its headquarters in the former Gannett building at 7950 Jones Branch Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]
Funding Approved for Vienna Stream Restoration — “The second phase of the Bear Branch stream-restoration project in Vienna will move forward, following unanimous approval Jan. 25 by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The project…is designed to reduce nutrients and bolster water quality in the Accotink Creek watershed.” [Sun Gazette]
Metro Offers Hiring Bonus to Bus Drivers — “Metro is offering up to a $2,500 pay incentive as part of a new campaign to hire more bus drivers. Metro, like transit agencies and other industries nationwide, is facing a staffing shortage due to the pandemic and is looking to hire nearly 70 bus drivers needed to meet the current bus service schedule.” [WMATA]
The Vienna Town Council unanimously approved moving forward with the second phase of a project to restore Bear Branch stream on Monday (Dec. 6).
Originating north of Cottage Street and cutting through Southside Park, the stream has experienced “major erosion and stream bank failure,” according to project documents.
This portion of the project aims to restore approximately 1,900 linear feet of stream banks from Cottage Street SW down to I-66, running parallel to Patrick Street SW and George C. Yeonas Park.
The project will use natural channel design techniques to reduce sedimentation and improve the stream’s water quality while stabilizing the eroded banks.
The town council voted on Monday to approve an agreement to committing Fairfax County to providing half the funding for the project, which carries an estimated cost of $2.52 million cost.
The other half of the funding will be covered by a stormwater assistance grant that Vienna applied for from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in November 2019.
The grant, which has now been awarded, comes from the state’s Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF), which gives matching grants to local governments for stormwater management efforts that address cost efficiency while committing to reducing water quality pollutants.
“As we have with all of our stream restorations, we are partnering with Fairfax County through their storm water funds,” Vienna Director of Public Works Mike Gallagher said during Monday’s meeting. “And they are funding 50% to match the DEQ 50% to make a full project.”
Funding for the first phase of the project was approved by the Vienna Town Council in August 2019 and by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in September 2019.
After receiving nine proposals and reviewing three finalists, Vienna awarded a design contract of up to $427,003 to Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions on July 6, 2020.
A survey of the site subsequently began in July 2020, and a citizen meeting was held on Dec. 15 to present and discuss concept plan design.
Following the Vienna Town Council’s vote on Monday, the county still needs to approve the new funding agreement before the project design is finalized and built.
“We’re probably talking at least 18 months from now to have something installed, implemented, between design and starting construction,” Gallagher said.
Political Anxieties Drive Tensions at McLean Bible Church — “The leaders of McLean Bible, one of the D.C. region’s largest and most high-profile evangelical churches, are facing attempts from its own members to spread disinformation to take control of the church, Pastor David Platt warned the congregation in a sermon earlier this month…Platt said he believes the recent controversy has been a collision of several things, including racial tensions and political tensions.” [The Washington Post]
Vienna to Hold Meeting on Nutley Shared-Use Path — “Property owners were notified Monday about an upcoming meeting to discuss design of the Nutley Street shared-use path and Hunters Branch stream restoration projects. The Town of Vienna’s two projects are in design and focus on the area of Nutley Street south of Maple Avenue. A virtual meeting on both concepts will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 4.” [Patch]
Fairhill Elementary Announces New Principal — “Grateful to have been on hand this afternoon when Mr. Cooper was announced as the new principal of @FairhillES. Looking forward to seeing him put his proven track record of success to work at this amazing Blue Ribbon School! #GoTigers” [Karl Frisch/Twitter]
Meet Internet Inventors Vinton Gray Cerf and Robert E. Kahn — “The indisputable inventors of one of the greatest planet-changing instruments of all time live a few minutes apart in McLean and have lived in Northern Virginia for four decades…The impact of the internet on life as we know it is profound and ongoing, but did you know until right now whom to credit — or blame?” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Northrop Grumman Hires Sustainability Chief — Northrop Grumman Corp. has hired Michael Witt as its vice president and chief sustainability officer, effective Aug. 9. Witt was most recently working at Dow, serving in several executive positions. Northrop Grumman didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry seeking comment. [Northrop Grumman]
Fairfax County is designing restoration plans for an eroded stretch of Little Pimmit Run from Franklin Park Road to just upstream of Kirby Road in McLean.
The $9.23 million project will address 7,100 feet of degraded stream channel in addition to about 1,250 feet of tributaries, which will be restored so that they tie into the main channel of Little Pimmit Run.
“The water has a lot of energy and it’s causing a lot of erosion,” project manager Fred Wilkins said during a recent meeting.
According to Wilkins, the project aims to slow the speed of the water, which will protect infrastructure and area vegetation. It will also restore the ecology of the stream and the surrounding area, while preventing sediment and pollutants from flowing from Little Pimmit Run into the Chesapeake Bay.
Identified in 2019, other problems caused by the ongoing erosion include undercut banks and compromised trees, the county’s project page says.
Wilkins says another goal of the project is to protect infrastructure.
“There are multiple locations where we have sanitary pipes that cross the stream bed, and in some cases, the water can move debris that can damage the sanitary crossings, as shown during the 2019 storm, which caused emergency repairs to be needed,” he said.
Last but not least, the project manager said the county aims “to give the community something to enjoy.”
The project will unfold in two phases, starting with a stretch of stream from Franklin Park Road to Chesterbrook Road that runs parallel to Solitaire Lane. The second phase picks up north of Chesterbrook Road and goes away the way to Kirby Road.
Right now, county officials are deliberating the future alignment of the channel. Once one is chosen, concept designs should be ready to be submitted this September 2021. A community meeting is slated for November.
There will not be a construction timeline until the designs are completed.
The project straddles private property and county property, and will require coordination between the county and property owners, Wilkins said.
People in the area can expect to see flagging and survey markers over the next several months, according to the county’s project website.
“Survey markers do not necessarily mean that the marked tree will be removed,” the website said.
This restoration work joins another stream restoration project along the channel between Forest Lane and North Albemarle Street, along with a sewer realignment project, emergency wastewater stabilization, and a Fairfax County Department of Transportation sidewalk project, Wilkins said.
The project is being funded through the county Stormwater Service District.
Images via Fairfax County
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
Vienna officials want to fix the erosion along a stream of Bear Branch Tributary.
The Vienna Town Council is set to vote on awarding the design contract for the stream restoration project, which will improve roughly 1,900 linear feet of the stream and its banks from Cottage Street SW downstream to I-66, according to town documents.
In total, the project costs approximately $2 million. In September, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved giving roughly $1 million to the town for the project.
“Town DPW staff will lead and manage the project, and Fairfax County staff has pledged support with plans and review if requested,” according to town documents.
Earlier this year, town staff reviewed nine design proposals and narrowed their selection to the one from Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc. The town is set to vote on awarding the contract to the firm tonight.
A recent stream restoration project in Tysons is supposed to help fix erosion but a few residents and environmental advocates in the area worry that it will be detrimental to local wildlife and foliage.
The Old Courthouse Spring Branch at Gosnell Road Stream Stream Restoration Project runs loosely along Route 7 and is currently under construction to restore roughly half a mile of the natural stream channel, replace old sewage lines and decommission an old stormwater pond, according to Fairfax County’s website.
In the months leading up to this project, several nearby residents and visitors to “Tysons Last Forest” have protested the project — not because they want to stop it, but because they want the wildlife and nature to be protected.
The area, which consists of more than 40 acres of open space, is home to birds, deer, owls, small mammals, foxes, hundred-year-old trees and even a bobcat or two, according to Fairfax County.
Local resident Jack Russell, who is a long-time visitor to the park, said he isn’t aware of either an ecological or environmental impact report for the project, which he said concerns him.
Tysons Reporter reached out to Shannon Bell and Charles Smith from the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services Department for comment but haven’t received a response yet.
Russell said he is already noticing the negative effects of the work done by crews, recounting how Fairfax County workers destroyed a fox’s den. “I watched the fox just walk around in shock,” he said.
Though the work on phase one began in November 2019, Russell and his wife retroactively organized a Facebook page and town hall in January to educate people on the project. The meeting attracted roughly 50 people from around the area, Russell said, noting that Fairfax County representatives attended the meeting, including a liaison from the office of the Hunter Mill District Supervisor.
During the January town hall, Russell was able to share his grievances with Bell and Smith.
“The people who are managing phase one and phase two of the Tysons Forest project couldn’t be nicer people and they’ve listened but they rolled in with bulldozers and backhoes and just clearcut 1,500 feet of old trees,” Russell said.
Fairfax County documentation already notes that ecosystems in the area are fragile. “The natural areas of the district are extremely fragmented, with significant portions of edge habitat and few large tracts remaining,” the report, which was published in 2011, said.
Ultimately, Russell said he and other local advocates have a few key demands.
Though they understand that stream restoration is important for the health of the area, he said they want to:
- minimize the loss of trees and habitat in the area
- delay work on the second phase until damage from the first phase is re-planted and healed
- create “animal-friendly zones” including native plant species and hollow logs for dens
- be a “shining” example nationally for how animal habitats can be enhanced
According to Fairfax County, the project will be completed in 2021.
Russell said he hopes the issue will receive more attention and that Fairfax County will reevaluate the environmental impact of its ongoing projects.
Photo courtesy Jack Russell
Fairfax County will provide an extra $160,000 to help the Town of Vienna kick off a stream restoration project.
The county’s Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to approve the additional funding at their meeting on Tuesday.
The extra funds will go toward the design and construction of the Northside Park Piney Branch Stream Restoration Project.
Located in the Town of Vienna and the Difficult Run Watershed, the project will restore roughly 1,400 linear feet of the stream on Piney Branch by improving the water quality and providing more nutrients, according to county documents.
“The town will administer the design and construction of the Project. Partnering with the Town on this project will save the county the time and administrative costs that would be incurred if the county were to implement the project under its stormwater program,” according to the county.
Back in 2017, the county board gave $660,000 to the town to partially fund the project. After the town received six bids in December, “the total project estimate has increased by $333,006 due to higher than originally estimated construction bids,” according to the county.
The vote on Tuesday means the county will provide an additional $168,006 to the project, which now has a total estimated cost of $1.6 million.
The project is also being supported by an $825,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, according to county documents.
“The town will reimburse the county funds that are not expended in accordance with the terms of the attached agreement,” according to the county.
Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors wants to team up with the developers behind a Tysons East development on a stream restoration project in Scotts Run.
The partnership between the county and Cityline Partner would let the developer fund part of the project, satisfying its proffered conditions for its Scotts Run project, which would bring a hotel, apartments, office buildings and retail space right next to the McLean Metro station.
When the county approved Cityline’s rezoning application in 2013, the developer agreed to design and construct a stream restoration project in the Scotts Run Stream Valley Park, which is owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority, according to county documents.
More from county documents on the proposed agreement:
As part of the Stormwater Capital Improvement Program, the county has finalized designs and is ready to construct a stream restoration project in a section of the Scotts Run that is contiguous with the Cityline Plan (County Project). The county and Cityline want to implement the Cityline Plan and the County Project concurrently…
Under the proposed agreement, the County will solicit bids for the construction of the combined Cityline Plan and the County Project, and, based on the bid, Cityline will choose whether to fund its proportional share of construction costs or construct the Cityline Plan independent of the County Project.
The county says that combining the stream restoration projects will help the work will get done faster and lower construction costs.
“Additionally, stormwater improvement and stream restoration projects for Tysons are included in the adopted Scotts Run Watershed Management Plan and are part of the Fiscal Year 2020 Capital Improvement Program,” the county documents added.
The board is set to vote on the proposed project agreement tomorrow (Tuesday).
Restoration recently finished on a stream in McLean as part of Fairfax County’s larger efforts to improve water quality and reduce flooding.
Restoration started at Bull Neck Run, a stream just north of Tysons, in 2018 and included improving the ecological function of the stream and extracting nitrogen and phosphorous from the soil.
Before the project, the banks of the stream were eroding and the stream bed was identified as instable.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust celebrated the project’s completion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday (Oct. 21).
“Projects like this will help ensure the health of our watersheds for generations to come and I look forward to continue working with the community on these improvements,” Foust said in a press release.
The project cost $1.6 million and was funded through the county’s stormwater service district.
Lewinsville Coalition, a local advocacy group, provided input during the project’s design and construction, along with pushing for trails to stay open while work was underway, according to a press release from Foust.
“The work involved restoration of approximately 2,000 linear feet of Bull Neck Run and several tributaries and will remove 800 pounds of nitrogen and 71,000 pounds of suspended solids per
year,” according to the press release.
Work to restore the native trees along with other landscaping is expected to wrap up next month.
The project is the latest stormwater project completed.
Upcoming projects include the restoration of Dead Run toward Georgetown Pike and work on Tucker Avenue in Falls Church.
Photo courtesy John Foust