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The Lake Accotink dam in Springfield (staff photo by David Taube)

A 42-year-old man from Lorton faces criminal charges after allegedly sexually assaulting a kid at Lake Accotink Park, the Fairfax County Police Department announced today (Wednesday).

According to police, Louis C. Allen approached the victim at a playground in the park (7500 Accotink Park Road) around 6 p.m. on Saturday (May 21). He “unlawfully touched” her multiple times, first while talking to her in the play area and again after following her into the water when she left to avoid him.

“The victim advised family members of the assault,” the FCPD said. “When family members confronted the man, the suspect got into a vehicle and left the area.”

The assault was reported to police that day, and the family was able to provide identifying information on the man using cell phone footage, including the registration number for his vehicle, according to the FCPD.

FCPD detectives obtained a warrant for aggravated sexual battery and arrested Allen yesterday (Tuesday) with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service. Allen was also served with three outstanding warrants: two counts of failure to appear and one for simple assault against a family member.

Allen is currently being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.

The FCPD says anyone who might have information about the case or any other incidents of inappropriate sexual contact involving Allen can contact its Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be submitted to Fairfax County Crime Solvers.

“Victim advocates from our Major Crimes Bureau’s Victim Services Division have been assigned to this case to ensure the victim’s family is receiving appropriate resources and assistance,” the police department said.

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The National Museum of the U.S. Army will be open to the public for Memorial Day for the first time (courtesy NMUSA/Flickr)

As a holiday, Memorial Day is a bit of a contradiction.

Coming on Monday (May 30), the actual day is a somber occasion, tracing its origins back to the post-Civil War era as a way to honor military service members killed in war. With the weather heating up and schools winding down, however, Memorial Day has long also been treated as an unofficial kick-off for summer.

After a couple of more subdued years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Memorial Day 2022 will have plenty to offer Fairfax County residents, whether you plan to spend the weekend commemorating a loved one or are just itching to relax and eat some barbecue.

The National Army Museum

The National Museum of the U.S. Army will be open to the public for Memorial Day weekend for the first time since it launched at Fort Belvoir on Veteran’s Day in 2020.

In addition to holding a remembrance at 10 a.m. and a moment of silence at 3 p.m. on Monday, the museum has a full slate of activities planned throughout the weekend:

  • Poppy Paper Flower-Making: Craft red poppies out of paper for a special Memorial Day display, and learn how the flower came to symbolize remembrance for fallen service members
  • Operation Safe Passage: A role-playing experience where players train to provide a humanitarian response to a simulated earthquake. 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Normally reserved for groups, the activity will be open to children 7 and older with an adult. Advance registration is required.
  • Hands-On History: Explore Army equipment and uniforms from different eras between 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. each day.
  • “Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day”: Screenings of the documentary about World War II veterans who return to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day will be followed by Q&A sessions with filmmaker Charlotte Juergens. Registration required.
  • The Army Historical Foundation Book Sale: New and used military books will be on sale Friday through Sunday (May 27-29) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Viva! Vienna!

After slimming down last year, the Town of Vienna’s annual Memorial Day weekend festival returns bigger than ever with the addition of a Backstage Brewfest.

A charity event organized by the Rotary Club of Vienna, Viva Vienna will unfold in its familiar location along Church Street, which will be closed to traffic between Lawyers Road and Mill Street on Sunday and Monday. Read More

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Justice High School’s football field (via FCPS/Facebook)

More than half of Fairfax County’s public high schools have no permanent restrooms for their outdoor athletic facilities, leaving players and spectators to endure the stench and claustrophobia of port-a-potties.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors hopes to rectify the situation, unanimously approving a board matter to consider funding for new bathrooms at 15 schools in the coming fiscal year 2023, which starts July 1.

“We owe it to these schools to get them up to this standard for purposes of equity and public health and bottom-line fairness, so I hope we can support this and get this done as quickly as possible,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay, who introduced the measure yesterday (Tuesday).

Fairfax County Public Schools has 28 high schools and 559 athletic fields that are used by the general community as well as students.

However, FCPS didn’t provide permanent stadium bathrooms when many schools were built, and the following schools have yet to get upgrades, despite growing concerns that port-a-potties are inadequate for facilities that can seat as many as 15,000 people:

  • Annandale
  • Chantilly
  • Edison
  • Hayfield
  • Justice
  • Lake Braddock
  • Lewis
  • Marshall
  • McLean
  • Mount Vernon
  • Robinson
  • South Lakes
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • West Potomac
  • Woodson

“The School Board and the Board of Supervisors have been partnering for some time to identify a path forward to address the need and provide stadium bathrooms,” an FCPS spokesperson said by email.

Directing county staff to include the projects as a consideration item when revising the adopted FY 2023 budget this fall, McKay called the lack of permanent bathrooms an equity concern in terms of geography, income, and gender, noting that the schools where this is an issue are spread across the county.

“Permanent bathroom facilities at stadiums should be standard, not a matter of where you live,” the board matter said.

He credited Megan McLaughlin and Karen Corbett-Sanders, who respectively represent Braddock and Mount Vernon districts on the school board, with advocating for facility improvements.

Expressing support for “the anti-Port-a-John board matter,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said outdoor bathrooms were one of the most anticipated benefits of recent renovations at Herndon High School.

According to Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, West Potomac High School has been in need of permanent stadium restrooms since he was the PTA president “a couple of decades ago.”

“It frankly got down to economics, how you find the dollars to make this work,” Storck said.

The county estimates that approximately $15 million will be needed for all 15 projects. Exactly where that money will come from remains a question mark, but the Board of Supervisors suggested the costs will be shared between the county government and FCPS.

The board told staff to work with FCPS to determine how the costs will be split using data from a Synthetic Turf Task Force report published in 2013.

McLaughlin said in an emailed statement that she was “thrilled” to see the Board of Supervisors unanimously approve McKay’s board matter.

“This ongoing facility issue has been an important concern for many years among our principals, student activities directors, coaches, athletic boosters, student athletes, families, and County recreation leagues,” she said. “The lack of permanent bathroom facilities impacts students everyday with respect to PE classes, sports practices, and band practices. It also impacts spectators and County residents who use and/or visit our fields.”

McLaughlin said she and Corbett-Sanders, who were part of a working group convened by McKay on the topic, plan to submit a similar request for funding to the school board.

Photo via FCPS/Facebook

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Traffic from 2019 on eastbound Dolley Madison Boulevard at the Great Falls Street intersection in McLean (via Google Maps)

Fairfax County has some ideas for short-term fixes that could ease congestion on Dolley Madison Blvd. through McLean, but if traffic grows significantly further down the road, a more substantial overhaul may be needed.

For the first time in almost three years, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation returned to the community with updates on its efforts to address gridlock in the corridor between the Dulles Toll Road and Old Dominion Drive.

At a meeting on May 11, county staff shared revised traffic data and recommendations that they said take into account the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on people’s travel habits as well as infrastructure projects, like the Jones Branch Connector, designed to divert traffic from local roads.

According to the presentation, traffic in the D.C. suburbs is near pre-pandemic levels, with average daily volumes since July returning to about 90% of where they were in 2019, FCDOT project manager Maggie Qi reported.

However, aside from noticeable dips in March-April 2020 and this past January, traffic volumes have stayed relatively level over the past two to three years, and the county anticipates that people working from home will continue to slow growth, at least in the near-future.

“At some point, the ultimate solution would wind up being an interchange, but if we can find a way to keep volumes steady, we may be able to avoid that,” Qi said.

Building off of a 2010 Tysons Neighborhood Study, the Dolley Madison corridor study has been underway since 2017 — long enough that its definition of “short term” has shrunk from 10 to five years, with 2027 as the end of the planned timeframe.

Identifying the Lewinsville Road/Great Falls Street intersection as the corridor’s most problematic, particularly during afternoon peak hours, FCDOT has developed eight possible solutions, six of which come from the last community meeting in 2019:

  • Concept 1: Three continuous lanes on eastbound Dolley Madison, providing additional capacity with a new lane after the Dulles Toll Road
  • Concept 2: Builds on the first concept by extending the three lanes through Lewinsville/Great Falls
  • Concept 3: Eliminate left turns from Balls Hill Road onto Lewinsville, which could get another lane
  • Concept 4: A “partial jughandle” with restricted left-turns from Dolley Madison onto Old Dominion in both directions and onto Ingleside Avenue for eastbound traffic
  • Concept 5: Widen Lewinsville/Great Falls to add two exclusive left-turn lanes, allowing the traffic signal timing to become more efficient
  • Concept 6: Three westbound travel lanes on Dolley Madison from Old Dominion to Lewinsville

Though staff said that it would significantly reduce congestion, the sixth concept is no longer being considered after residents expressed strong opposition, since it would limit access to adjacent neighborhoods from Dolley Madison. Read More

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Members of the advocacy group Moms Demand Action join the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to designate June 3 as Gun Violence Awareness Day (via Fairfax County/Flickr)

(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A Fairfax County School Board member plans to advocate for adding security vestibules at schools in the wake of the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in nearly a decade.

Melanie Meren, who represents Hunter Mill District on the board, will introduce a motion at a meeting tomorrow (Thursday) requesting that Fairfax County Public Schools develop a plan to fund and install vestibules at all facilities, she said in social media posts last night (Tuesday).

Meren says she previously worked on the proposal when she joined the school board in 2020 to provide an additional layer of security on top of the intercom that most FCPS facilities use to grant entry.

“Security vestibules are a strategy for preventing intruders from gaining access to schools,” Meren told FFXnow by email. “A security vestibule requires visitors to be verified by staff in a secured sign-in area, before doors are electronically opened that grant the visitor access to the building.”

According to Meren, FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand has estimated it would take $15 million to install the enclosures and related electronic systems in facilities that don’t already have them.

Meren intends to put forward the motion as part of the school board’s scheduled vote to approve the fiscal year 2023 budget. She suggests the money could come from county funds left over from this current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, as well as state and federal funds that FCPS gets for security upgrades.

“This work is long over due,” Meren wrote. “Though yet again, public schools are responsible for addressing and funding responses to a public health crisis — gun violence is a public health crisis — while our mission is to educate children for a successful future.”

Meren was one of several Fairfax County elected officials to make public statements in response to yesterday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old killed 19 children and two teachers.

The flags outside the Fairfax County Government Center have been lowered to half-staff and will remain there until sunset on Saturday (May 28).

The shooting reportedly started around 11:32 a.m. CDT — just two hours after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to designate June 3 as Gun Violence Awareness Day. The school board is set to take the same action when it meets tomorrow.

“As a parent, I am heartbroken for the families in grief tonight and angry that, as a nation, we have not made much progress protecting innocent people, most especially children,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement. “Our children deserve a world that puts their health and wellbeing at the forefront.” Read More

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There’s nothing like a two-year-long pandemic to drive home the importance of access to quality health care services.

Reston Hospital Center was planning a new emergency department in Tysons before COVID-19 showed up, but the pandemic heightened the sense of urgency around the project, particularly as hospitals continue to see increased demand, Tysons Emergency Medical Director Saad Amin says.

“With Covid having come around, it’s been a real important endeavor that HCA [Virginia] and Reston Hospital have been trying to get done,” Amin said, referring to the company that owns the hospital. “We’re very excited to have this open to the community.”

Tysons Emergency hasn’t opened just yet, but it’s expected to by the end of May. HCA hosted an open house and power lunches this past Thursday and Friday (May 19-20) to introduce community members to the nearly 14,000-square-foot facility.

Located at 8240 Leesburg Pike, just east of the Route 123 and Route 7 interchange, the standalone emergency room features 10 private exam rooms, including one where the furniture is bolted down for cases that raise behavioral health concerns.

Other amenities include on-site lab testing, imaging technology, a resuscitation room, a triage room near the waiting area, and a decontamination room with doors that can control the air flow and separate occupants from the rest of the ER.

Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the facility is expected to accommodate about 22 patients on a typical day, according to the staff. The main ER has a TV with real-time data tracking the number of patients and wait times for both Tysons and Reston Hospital.

Serving both adults and children, Tysons Emergency will start with one physician and a support nursing staff on site at all times, but the staffing will increase as more patients come in, Saad says.

Like a standard emergency room, it will be equipped to address life-threatening, critical situations, such as heart attacks and drug overdoses, as well as more routine issues, like a stubbed toe or animal bites.

“We can handle anything that comes in through that door, and we’ll get them to the correct level of care afterwards,” Saad said.

Patients who need to be admitted for a more long-term condition will be transferred by ambulance to Reston Hospital (1850 Town Center Parkway), at no cost. There is also complimentary valet parking with 60 spaces available, saving visitors from the stress of finding a spot themselves, according to Tysons ER Director Kimberly Riley-O’Bannon.

As Tysons’ population has grown, so has the need for medical and emergency services to support those residents.

In February, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine opened a primary care office just to the north in McLean, and the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department added a new Scotts Run fire station last fall to serve Tysons East. Plans to relocate and add capacity to Fire Station 29 are now in the works.

Riley-O’Bannon says Tysons Emergency staff have met with all of the fire stations in a 20-mile radius to familiarize them with the new facility, which is expected to shorten travel times for first responders.

“The hope is they’ll come here and be able to drop off their patients and get back out into the community,” Riley-O’Bannon said. “That’s a big selling point for them, so they’re very anxious for us to open.”

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Voters cast ballots in a McLean Community Center Governing Board election (courtesy MCC)

(Updated at 12:15 a.m. on 5/25/2022) The McLean Community Center saw a noticeable uptick in participation for its latest governing board election.

A total of 2,504 ballots were cast to determine three new adult board members and two teen members, MCC reported in its preliminary results. That is roughly four times the 606 voters who turned out for last year’s election.

There were 2,381 voters and 123 youth voters. 2,064 people voted absentee, while 440 people cast their ballot this past Saturday (May 21) during McLean Day.

The turnout still represents just a fraction of the 18,000 households in Small District 1A — Dranesville, the special tax district that funds the center, but MCC says it was glad to see more residents get involved.

“We are happy with the increased participation,” MCC spokesperson Sabrina Anwah said. “As the center’s programs continue to expand and become more inclusive, we hope to experience more and more involvement of the patrons that we serve.”

The 2022 governing board race was unusually crowded, drawing 12 candidates — nine adults and three teens.

Kristina Groennings led the field for the adult seats with 1,531 votes. She will be joined on the board by Anna Bartosiewicz (1,403 votes) and Ari Ghasemian (1,400 votes).

Max Blacksten, who currently represents the McLean High School boundary area on the board, was defeated by two votes in his bid for reelection. He will be succeeded by Sarah Tran, while the Langley High School area will be served by Charlotte Loving, who unsuccessfully campaigned for the seat in 2021 but ran uncontested this year.

Tasked with making policy, programming, and budget decisions, the MCC Governing Board’s typically unassuming proceedings have been shaken up over the past year by conservative backlash to a “Drag Storybook Hour” for children that the center co-sponsored with the Dolley Madison Library last June.

According to The Washington Post’s account, tension over the Pride Month event turned the 2022 board elections into a referendum on MCC’s efforts to promote equity and diversity with its programming, which has become a priority under new Executive Director Daniel Singh.

Groennings, Bartosiewicz, and Ghasemian had expressed support for Fairfax County’s One Fairfax equity policy and were backed by members of the county’s Democratic committee, according to the Post. The other candidates included former Trump administration official Katherine Gorka.

(Correction: The election winners were not endorsed by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, as previously stated. They got support from individual committee members, but the FCDC didn’t officially endorse any candidates, since this was a nonpartisan election.)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted today (Tuesday) to formally appoint the election winners to the governing board.

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A visitor walks into Capital One Hall in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

For a second year in a row, ArtsFairfax will hold its annual celebration of the local arts community on Oct. 28 at Capital One Hall, which also happens to be one of this year’s award recipients.

The Tysons performing arts venue will receive the Jinx Hazel Arts Award, the top honor from ArtsFairfax, the nonprofit Fairfax County arts agency announced last Tuesday (May 17).

The 2022 Arts Awards will also honor philanthropists Gary and Tina Mather, actor and former Reston Community Center assistant technical director Mark Brutsché, and George Mason University’s Fall for the Book festival, which will get a new Innovation Award.

“We are delighted to honor the remarkable contributions of this year’s Arts Awards honorees, who have all demonstrated a deep commitment to our community and to making Fairfax arts and culture more accessible,” ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda Sullivan said in the news release.

According to ArtsFairfax, the awards ceremony draws approximately 300 patrons every year. The 2021 awards were among the first events hosted by Capital One Hall, which opened on Oct. 1 at 7750 Capital One Tower Road.

Proceeds from the awards support the nonprofit’s activities, which include artist residencies, grants, promotion of local arts and cultural organizations, and advocacy for the arts.

ArtsFairfax announced on Thursday (May 19) that it had received a $55,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to expand its artist residency program, which currently places professional artists in middle schools across the county to help educate students.

With the grant, the nonprofit says it will bring artists to a public elementary school, a public library, a county park, a community center, and an affordable housing development.

“By placing professional artists in communities with less access to arts, artists in residence can share their art form and spark creativity for participants of all ages,” ArtsFairfax said.

Here’s more from ArtsFairfax on this year’s Arts Awards recipients: Read More

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Shipgarten is coming to Scotts Run in Tysons (courtesy Shipgarten/Instagram)

(Updated at 9:15 a.m. on 5/25/2022) Land ho! After over two years of anticipated arrivals dashed against the rocky shores of the COVID-19 pandemic and various construction-related challenges, Shipgarten will dock at last in Scotts Run near the McLean Metro station on Thursday (May 26).

The team behind Alexandria’s Hops N Shine will introduce their new concept to the Tysons development with a soft opening for Tysons Biergarten, which will serve beer and German food out of a converted shipping container from 3-9 p.m. through Sunday (May 29).

Shuttle buses will be available to pick up visitors from the McLean Metro station and 1700 Old Meadow Road, and transport them to Shipgarten. (Update: The shuttle bus route has been corrected after this article previously stated it would travel from the McLean Metro to 1700 Old Meadow Road.)

Shipgarten thanked supporters for their patience when announcing the event on social media yesterday (Monday).

“We are just as exciting to build a community around Shipgarten as you are!” the business wrote. “We want to be your destination for a casual get together, happy hour, drink specials, corporate and private events, special occasions, sporting events, awkward first dates, proposals, and ultimately a good old fashioned good time.”

Shipgarten has been in the works since 2019, when the original Tysons Biergarten ended its run as a pop-up near the Greensboro Metro station.

The concept was supposed to open in the spring of 2020, but the rollout was prolonged by “a mix of everything,” from the pandemic to issues with getting contractors to the site, Creative Bar Concepts LLC Managing Partner Matt Rofougaran told FFXnow.

Now that Tysons Biergarten is ready, though, the community can expect 7581 Colshire Drive to get lively fast. Over the next few weeks, it will be joined by three other eateries, all inside reconfigured shipping containers:

  • RollBär — Asian fusion cuisine and Japanese whiskey, coming in early June
  • Salamati — fast-casual Persian food, described by Rofougaran as “Moby Dick meets Chipotle”
  • Waffles & Tacos — custom Belgian waffles and street tacos

The venue will also host a kid’s playground and a music pavilion with live entertainment, trivia, comedy, arts and crafts, karaoke, and other activities.

Rofougaran says the team decided to start with Tysons Biergarten, since it has an established fanbase, and many workers from the previous pop-up have returned.

However, he’s excited to debut new concepts like Waffles & Tacos, which replaces the planned Chalkboard BBQ.

“As time went on, we kept on thinking [about] what people like,” Rofougaran said. “We want to come up with something creative and fun, so these are the ideas we came up with. We think this is what’s really going to be successful.”

More food, drinks, and events will be added over the coming weeks, with the hours of operation eventually extending from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.

Like the Greensboro Metro site, Shipgarten is a pop-up, so it won’t stick around forever. Located on currently undeveloped land opposite the Mitre 4 building, the site is part of Scotts Run’s “Taylor” block, which is planned for over 1 million square feet of primarily residential and office development.

Construction is currently underway on Skanska’s Heming apartment building, set to be completed next year. Master plan developer Cityline Partners also recently got Fairfax County’s approval to turn vacant land on Anderson Road into a temporary park.

Rofougaran says there isn’t an exact timeline yet for when Shipgarten will have to vacate the site, but it will hopefully stay for the next couple of years.

“The beauty is it’s been made out of shipping containers and tents,” Rofougaran said. “We can take everything and move it down the street.”

Photo courtesy Shipgarten/Instagram

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Skyline Plaza in Bailey’s Crossroads (via Google Maps)

One person is dead, and two others have been taken to a hospital in the wake of a two-vehicle crash this morning (Tuesday) in Bailey’s Crossroads.

The crash involved Honda Accord going northbound on South George Mason Drive that hit a Volkswagen Jetta turning into Skyline Plaza, the Fairfax County Police Department said at 6:28 a.m.

According to police, a passenger in the Volkswagen died at the scene. The drivers of both cars were transported to the hospital.

South George Mason’s northbound lanes and one southbound lane were closed for about two hours while first responders cleaned up the scene. The crash remains under investigation by detectives with the FCPD’s Crash Reconstruction Unit.

This is the fourth non-pedestrian fatality from a vehicle crash in Fairfax County this year, following a death in Franconia on May 12, according to FCPD records.

Photo via Google Maps

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