As the Tysons plan reaches its 10-year anniversary, Supervisors John Foust and Dalia Palchik spoke candidly to the McLean Citizens Association last night (Wednesday) about some of the challenges facing the Tysons plan today.
While many of the issues were Tysons-specific, they are also challenges the entire region faces as Northern Virginia becomes more urbanized:
- Affordable Housing
For some of these, the recent pandemic has both brought the issues into focus and helped present new opportunities.
“One of my favorite topics is walkability,” Palchik said. “[We’re] looking now at how we make Tysons more walkable.”
Palchik pointed to a recent success in temporarily closing a section of Tysons Blvd to allow for more cycling and walking. Palchik pointed to it as a step in the right direction, but said it also took a lot of work to make it happen.
“It took a month to get Fairfax and the Department of Transportation to agree on a location,” Palchik said. “I hope to see more flexibility to create a sense of place.”
Palchik pointed to the planned pedestrian and bike bridge going over the beltway as another upcoming walkability success. Tysons is also slated for more investments to connect the blooming city’s street grid.
“Sometimes, new streets can feel in conflict with existing conditions, but [we’re] trying to make it more walkable,” Palchik said. “Change can be hard, but we’re looking at the upsides and really listening.”
Palchik and Foust both repeatedly praised the foundation of the Tysons plan, but said there are things that need tweaking.
“One issue that continues to bother me is the fact that we don’t have a plan for delivering school facilities in Tysons yet,” Foust said. “We have gotten a proffer of land for an elementary school. That’s an issue that’s going to head up, going forward.”
Palchik said the county needs to be more flexible on how schools are built, for example, building smaller schools with less grade levels than traditional elementary, middle, and high school models.
“We’ve been working on proffers, because the county can’t buy land,” Palchik said. “We’re looking at being more flexible, knowing this area is urbanizing. Can we get five acres? Can portions of development be dedicated to classrooms?”
Foust said another issue that’s really been prevalent during the pandemic is the lack of affordable housing in the area.
“Our challenge is delivering housing for 80% below and 60% below [Area Median Income],” Foust said. “We’re working on that challenge to increase the amount of housing that is truly affordable.”
COVID-19, Foust said, has hopefully helped to highlight the role essential workers play.
“COVID, if nothing else, has opened up our eyes to who is truly our essential workers, and they’re not the people making the income that can put you in a luxury apartment in Tysons,” Foust said. “They’re the kind of people working in the department stores and grocery stores, the service providers, and they deserve to live in the community where they work.”
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
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
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. 15)
- Mayor @ Your Service — 7:30 p.m. at Vienna Town Hall (127 Center Street S.) — Mayor Laurie DiRocco will have a presentation and conversation about Town programs and initiatives, Vienna history, or other topics of interest, the website said.
Thursday (Sept. 17)
- The Thursday Evening Book Group (Online) — 7 to 8 p.m. — The Thursday Evening Book Discussion Group meets on the first Thursday evening of each month. Discussing The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer, the group will meet via Zoom. Email Marshall Webster, [email protected], to request the Zoom link.
Friday (Sept. 18)
- Mayor’s Walk –9:30 a.m. at Vienna Town Hall (127 Center Street S.) — Walk and talk the town with Mayor Linda Colbert.
- Vienna Virtual Bingo Fun (Online) — 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.– Join Town of Vienna’s Program Coordinator, Kathy Blevins, for a fun hour of bingo through Zoom, the website said. Email [email protected] to register or call 703-255-7801 for more information.
- Sunset Cinema: Moana (Reservation Required) –7:45 p.m. at Cherry Hill Park (312 Park Ave.) — Sunset Cinema returns with the showing of “Moana.” This event is limited to 20 families in a reservation system, the website said. To register, use this website.
Saturday (Sept. 19)
- Falls Church Farmers Market — 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at City Hall Parking Lot (300 Park Ave.) — Enjoy fresh, local produce, meat, dairy, flowers & plants, honey, music, and so much more at the Falls Church Farmers Market, the website said.
- Vienna Farmers Market –8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Vienna Community Center Parking Lot (120 Cherry Street SE ) — Sponsored by the Optimist Club of Greater Vienna, the Vienna Farmers Market features approximately 30 vendors from across the region offering locally sourced fruits, vegetables, and homemade eats, the website said.
Photo via Falls Church Farmers Market/Facebook
Northern Virginia is rolling back COVID-19 restrictions on businesses as residents are under a “safer at home” recommendation. As the weather continues to warm up and more people head outside, people are finding limited transportation options.
In late May, staff photographer Jay Westcott captured what transportation looks like now in Tysons: cyclists and pedestrians along the W&OD Trail in Vienna and closure signs at the Tysons Corner Metro station.
Westcott spotted a dog named Cora watching her owner Chad exercise in the parking garage at Tysons Corner Center. He photographed Leesburg Pike, almost empty of cars, by the malls and empty parking garages around Tysons.
Let us know how you’ve been getting around Tysons and if the pandemic has impacted your transportation choices by commenting below.
With sunnier and warmer days ahead, a portion of Tysons Blvd is poised to become a space for cyclists and pedestrians looking for more room to social distance.
Robin Geiger, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Transportation Department (FCDOT), mentioned the plans during a town hall with county officials yesterday.
“We’re going to close a portion of Tysons Blvd to allow for safer biking and pedestrian access for exercise, to increase social distancing, so people can get around Tysons,” Geiger said.
The upcoming closure is part of a pilot project with Tysons Partnership, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, Geiger said. While Geiger did not say when the partial road closure is expected or which portion will be closed, she said that FCDOT will announce more information soon.
Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik praised the project, saying that “it does take quite a bit of coordination” for the county and VDOT to work on road projects.
“I’m just thrilled,” Palchik said.
Closing roads to give cyclists and pedestrians more space during the pandemic has been gaining traction around the U.S., WAMU reported.
“I know bikes are being sold quite a bit these days,” Palchik said, adding that “we take this opportunity to improve our bikeability and walkability.”
Image via Google Maps
Foot traffic in McLean will soon have a clearer path thanks to a new project updating several sidewalks.
Around 13,000 square feet of sidewalk at 250 locations around McLean will be updated, according to a press release. The updates are a part of a McLean Community Revitalization District project.
Backing the project, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said walkability is one of his priorities.
“These repairs will extend the useful life of our infrastructure and make it safer for our community to conduct business, run errands, recreate, and enjoy exploring downtown McLean,” Foust said in a press release.
The area around the intersection of Old Chain Bridge Road and Old McLean Village Drive is one of the places slated to receive a sidewalk facelift, according to the press release.
Sidewalks were chosen for the project based on criteria including excessive cracks, severe cross slopes and missing sections.
“Over the last few years, several other infrastructure improvements have been made in the area to make McLean a more walkable and bikeable community,” the press release said.
Construction was expected to begin in April and will likely be finished by the end of June, depending on the weather, according to the press release.
Photo courtesy Fairfax County
In the spring, Vienna and Herndon want locals to take part in a biking and walking event featuring raffle tickets for prizes.
“Caboose to Caboose,” which will take place early May, aims to encourage people to shop, dine and explore their town and the other one. The towns want people to go from caboose to caboose — Vienna’s is at 234 Dominion Road, while Herndon’s is at 777 Lynn Street.
The total roundtrip distance is 16.6 miles, and people who don’t want to make the whole trip can stop halfway if they want, the flyer says.
Google estimates that the bike ride one-way takes 50 minutes, while walking would take roughly three hours on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail.
The towns’ parks and recreation departments came up with the idea during a meeting in October, Amy-Jo Hendrix, who works in Vienna’s parks and recreation department, told Tysons Reporter.
Participating restaurants and businesses in both towns will give out raffle tickets during the event. Brandy Wyatt, another employee in Vienna’s parks and recreation department, said that all of the raffle tickets will be mixed together.
“There are a variety of things that are on the raffle,” Wyatt said, adding that people can expect the prizes to include store gift cards and sports tickets.
The first 200 registered participants will receive a t-shirt representing their town — blue for Vienna and red for Herndon, according to the website. The town that gets the most people to register for the event will win the “Mayors Cup.”
“I want to win!” Mayor Laurie DiRocco enthusiastically told attendees at the Vienna Business Association’s event last week.
Admission is $10 for people ages 15 or under and $18 for people ages 16 and older. People interested in participating can contact Vienna’s parks and recreation department at 703-255-6360.
The event will take place rain or shine on Saturday, May 2, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Photo via Lisa Emrich/Facebook
Happy Friday! Here are the latest stories about the Tysons area that the Tysons Reporter team has been reading:
Remembering a McLean Teacher — “Rita Olson, beloved music and science teacher at The Country Day School, has passed away. After a courageous battle with cancer for the past six months, Rita passed away peacefully early Saturday morning.” [Patch]
Business Leaders Say School Matters — “Business and nonprofit leaders gathered for the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Regional Economic Outlook event last week had one thing on their mind: keeping the region’s workforce growing for the area’s expanding businesses. To do so, they said, two things will be necessary — regional collaboration and high-quality education.” [Inside NoVa]
Tysons Restaurant Lands “Most Romantic” List — “A handful of Northern Virginia and D.C. restaurants are on the OpenTable ‘100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America for 2020’ list” including Eddie V’s at 7900 Tysons One Place. [Patch]
Online Grocer Leases HQ Space in Tysons II — “Ocado Solutions is opening a new headquarters office in Tysons, Virginia, in a deal announced just weeks after the company disclosed plans to open one of its first robot-powered fulfillment centers in suburban Washington, D.C.” [Costar]
How Can Tysons Become Walkable? — “Tysons is evolving from suburb to city, but try to walk around and it still feels disjointed, with very long walks from one block to the next. Filling in these spaces is a growing network of non-street paths, including elevated walkways and mall promenades.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.
My kids spent most of the weekend outside enjoying our early spring — thanks Punxsutawney Phil!
I grew up in Upstate New York, so I’m no stranger to cold winter weather, but I will admit I don’t mind these mild January/February days! We live in an area that’s covered in secret wonders to explore, whether by yourself, with your dogs, or with you family.
There are some great options to get outside, walk off that Superbowl Hangover, keep up with your New Years resolutions and keep everyone sane from feeling cooped up inside.
Here are some of my favorite walking trails near Tysons:
- The obvious, The W&OD Trail — You can jump on at so many junction points around town and make a day of it. Walk, run, bike etc to a nearby restaurant (like Caboose or Church Street Pizza), or head to the Community Center in Vienna, Spacebar in Falls Church or take it to Arlington and go explore the new Ballston Quarter.
- Roosevelt Island — Located just off the GW Parkway in Arlington, we did this walk on New Years Day with my kids. It’s quiet, an easy walk, and a dose of some history to remember. If you like to skip rocks, the trail is surrounded by the Potomac River, so easy ways to walk down to the water and throw rocks, enjoy a beautiful view of Georgetown, and let the kids or dogs run.
- Meadowlark Connector Trail — A small portion that diverges from the W&OD and leads you directly to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
- Great Falls — Either the Virginia or Maryland side will offer a wonderful walk/hike and beautiful views. We love to pack some sandwiches and walk from one end to the other and find a big rock to sit on in the sun and enjoy the sounds of the falls. It’s really a beautiful thing to see and such an escape from our daily D.C. life, commute and chaos!
- Scott’s Run Nature Preserve — Located in McLean just off Georgetown Pike, it also has some beautiful water views and cliff views of the Potomac River. We did this hike on New Years Day 2019 and I think we saw a total of 1 other person in 2 hours. It was such a nice quiet way to spend a few hours. Parking can be tricky if you don’t know where you’re going, so plan ahead.
Did I miss your favorite hidden spot? Share it with me below!
New walkways are coming to McLean this year.
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said in a newsletter that work on a rectangular rapid flash beacon at Chain Bridge Road and Wasp Lane is expected to be finished in March.
Then, a walkway will get constructed on the south side of Dolley Madison Blvd from the intersection of Great Falls Street and Lewinsville Road to the McLean Metro station. That work is slated to get done in April.
Other walkway projects expected to finish in April include, according to the newsletter:
- East side of Georgetown Pike — south of Colonial Farm Road and on the east side of Route 123 and Potomac School Road
- North side of Kirby Road from Birch Road to Corliss Court
Finally, a walkway coming to the south side of Chesterbrook Road, spanning from Chesterford Way to Maddux Lane, is set to get completed in August.
Map via Fairfax County