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Holly Seibold and Karl Frisch are vying to become the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 35th House District (courtesy Laura Goyer Photography, Friends of Karl Frisch)

As early voting for the Congressional midterms continues, Democrats in Virginia’s 35th House District have a critical state race competing for their attention.

After longtime delegate Mark Keam resigned in early September, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee will hold a caucus on Saturday (Oct. 8) to select the its nominee for the vacated seat, which represents Tysons, Vienna, Dunn Loring and Oakton.

Competing for the nomination are Providence District School Board Representative Karl Frisch and Holly Seibold, founder and president of the nonprofit BRAWS.

Though the special election won’t be until Jan. 10, no Republicans have entered the race yet, and the district has gone blue in every election since 2003, suggesting that whoever wins this Saturday will be the new delegate.

The Democratic caucus will be unassembled, meaning voters can cast their ballot and leave. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at three different locations:

  • The Kilmer Center cafeteria (8102 Wolftrap Road, Vienna)
  • The Oakton Elementary School cafeteria (3000 Chain Bridge Road, Oakton)
  • The Patrick Henry Library meeting room (101 Maple Avenue East, Vienna)

Early voting will also be available at the FCDC headquarters at 8500 Executive Park Avenue, Suite 402, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) and from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday (Oct. 6).

All voters must fill out a certification form and sign a statement saying they’re “a registered voter, a Democrat, and that they do not intend to support a candidate opposed to the Democratic nominee in the next ensuing election,” according to the caucus rules.

Whoever wins the special election will serve the remainder of Keam’s term, which concludes in January 2024.

The candidates: Karl Frisch

Elected to the Fairfax County School Board in 2019, Frisch previously worked as executive director of the consumer watchdog organization Allied Progress, a senior fellow for the nonprofit Media Matters for America, and a Democratic staffer on the House of Representatives’ Committee on Rules.

The first openly gay person on the county’s school board, Frisch’s tenure has included the approval of new protections for transgender and gender-expansive students — a regulation currently being threatened by the state — and the naming of Mosaic Elementary School, previously known as Mosby Woods. Read More

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The Herndon Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

With the Silver Line Phase II opening still in flux, Fairfax County is being asked to pay another $40 million.

At its transportation committee meeting on Friday (Sept. 30), the Board of Supervisors got an update on the ramifications of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) agreeing in July to increase the budget for the Silver Line extension by $250 million.

The original project agreement calls for Fairfax County to pay about 16% of the asked-for overage, so with the quarter of a billion dollar budget increase, the county owes an additional $40.25 million.

All told, the county will have spent nearly a billion dollars — $960 million — on the second phase of the Silver Line, which will add six stations from Reston to Ashburn in Loudoun County.

In total, the project has cost just over $3 billion. The board is set to vote on the payment later this month.

While likely to approve the additional payment, several supervisors expressed frustration and annoyance with the need to throw even more dollars at a project that has been besieged by constant delays.

“I don’t think it’s a shock and it’s a tiny portion of the overall project,” Chairman Jeff McKay said. “But [the extra $40 million] has rightly angered a lot of folks given all the delays.”

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust also made clear he was not happy that the county is being asked to pay more.

“Have we asked ourselves if this is a good deal and the Airports Authority is not just…spending a lot of money to make a problem go away? And it’s our money that they are spending,” Foust asked staff.

He also asked if $960 million will be the final amount. However, county staff couldn’t guarantee that there won’t be any further costs, considering Phase 1 is still undergoing repairs after opening in 2014.

“We still have to reconcile Phase 1 and Phase 2…All parties have to be reconciled at the end of the project,” said Martha Elena Coello, head of special projects for the Fairfax County Department of Transporation. “We are still doing some work on Phase 1 and that needs to be completed. At the end, there will be a reconciliation of both those phases.”

McKay asked, seemingly rhetorically, what would happen if the county didn’t pay the extra money. Staff responded that it might become a “legal matter” since the payment is required by the signed project agreement.

“According to the funding agreement, this is not a ‘might be’ or ‘may be,'” he said. “It’s a requirement for the county. We don’t have the flexibility…without significant negative consequences.”

Still relatively new Metro General Manager Randy Clarke was given authority by the Board of Directors last month to set an opening date for the Silver Line extension. While no exact date has been announced, Clarke said safety certifications are expected this October, and Metro has updated its maps to feature the new stations.

At the same time, Clarke warned that opening the Silver Line could force service reductions due to a deficit in trains when currently shuttered Blue and Yellow Line stations south of Washington National Airport reopen.

That headache will be put off a little longer by an entirely different Metro problem. Last week, the transit agency announced that its new Potomac Yard station won’t open until 2023. As a result, the Yellow and Blue stations will be closed for another two weeks, until Nov. 5.

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Trailside Park (photo via Google Maps)

Fairfax County is seeking public input on plans that could put Trailside Park (6000 Trailside Drive) in Springfield in a new light and add more utility to the location.

A new master plan amendment would add field lighting to the eastern-most baseball diamond. The other two at the site are already lit.

The amendment is part of a broader effort to add lights to all fields around the county to increase utility throughout the year.

“The main objective in amending this master plan is to introduce athletic field lighting to all the fields,” the Fairfax County Park Authority said in a release. “The added lighting will allow extended evening use of the diamond fields during the fall and spring months and improve overall safety of the park.”

Tucked away southeast of the I-95/I-495 interchange, Trailside Park already had the baseball diamonds on the field when it was donated to the park authority in 1972, the release said.

Proposed change at Trailside Park (via Fairfax County Park Authority)

Adding lights to fields has been an occasionally contentious process, particularly in neighboring Alexandria. Last week, Fairfax County announced it would try to reduce light pollution in parts of the county.

The change seems unlikely to be as controversial at Trailside Park. As mentioned, two of the fields are already illuminated, and there’s a substantial swath of trees separating the fields from the residential neighborhood to the south.

“The Park Authority is inviting public comment on this proposed plan amendment for a 30-day period beginning Sept. 28, 2022,” the release said. “If you would like to provide comments or feedback, please send these by email to V2323@PUBLICINPUT.COM.”

The Park Authority Board is docketed to discuss the topic at a meeting on Nov. 9.

Photo via Google Maps

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Vienna Police (file photo)

Recent violent incidents around Vienna included a confrontation between a man and two others leaving his apartment and a battle between a local resident and an Amazon delivery truck.

The weekly Vienna Police Highlights offers a look at the calls for police around town, including notes on arrests and other incidents.

One of the more serious incidents this week involved a resident reportedly being assaulted in the 200 block of Cedar Lane on Thursday, Sept. 22, after confronting two men leaving his apartment.

“A resident reported parking his vehicle in the parking lot when he observed two men leaving his apartment,” the report said. “When he asked the men why they were in his apartment, they assaulted him and left the area in a vehicle.”

The wounds were treated on-site, and the report said it was later determined the two men leaving the apartment were acquaintances of a woman renting a room from the resident.

After obtaining a warrant charging assault and battery, a 23-year-old Vienna man was arrested and is being held on a $1,000 bond.

Another altercation occurred at 100 E Street SE when a resident attacked an Amazon delivery van.

According to the report, the incident took place on Sunday, Sept. 25, around 10 a.m:

An Amazon driver parked in a residential parking space in the townhouse complex to make a delivery. A resident of the complex became agitated with the driver and, as the driver was attempting to drive away, the resident kicked her vehicle causing damage to the door.

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Route 7 has a new eastbound lane between Reston Avenue and Riva Ridge Drive (via VDOT)

Drivers headed east on Route 7 in Reston can now get a small taste of what the road will be like once it’s fully widened.

A third eastbound travel lane opened along a 2-mile stretch of Route 7 (also known as Leesburg Pike) from Reston Avenue to Riva Ridge Drive on Friday (Sept. 30), the Virginia Department of Transportation announced.

A third westbound lane will open in the same area during the week of Oct. 10, VDOT says, noting that both lanes are arriving “ahead of schedule.”

This is the first segment of new lanes to be finished since construction began over three years ago on the project, which is expanding a 7-mile section of the corridor from four to six lanes between Reston and Tysons.

The $313.9 million project is also adding shared-use paths on both sides of Route 7, replacing the Difficult Run bridge, reconfiguring the Lewinsville Road intersection, and building a new pedestrian underpass at Colvin Run.

Work on the median and noise barriers between Reston Avenue and Riva Ridge will continue until mid-2024, when the full project is scheduled to be complete, according to VDOT’s project page.

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Fairfax County police car (file photo)

Fairfax County police are investigating a fatal shooting after someone allegedly fired multiple gunshots into a car parked in the Mount Vernon area yesterday morning (Sunday), killing one of the occupants.

Officers were called to the Old Mill Gardens apartment complex at Jeff Todd Way and St. Gregory’s Lane shortly before 7 a.m. after receiving a report of gunshots in the area, Fairfax County Police Department Lt. Dan Spital said at a media briefing.

According to police, the shooting followed “an altercation” between three occupants of a car in the apartment parking lot and an individual who approached the vehicle on foot.

“At some point, the individual outside of the car fired multiple rounds inside that vehicle,” Spital said. “At least one person was struck, and that is our victim.”

Still in the same car, an acquaintance drove the victim, a man, to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, where he was admitted with gunshot wounds to the upper body, police say. According to Spital, doctors determined that the man needed to be transferred to Inova’s Fairfax hospital, where he ultimately died.

Police believe the suspect and victim knew each other but are “still trying to determine the extent of that relationship,” Spital said. The suspect is likely a man, possibly the driver of a silver Nissan Maxima with Maryland tags seen “fleeing” the area, the FCPD says.

Police didn’t have any identifying information about the suspect beyond the description of the car seen leaving the area. However, the shooting is being investigated as a murder, according to Spital, who noted that “several rounds” were fired.

“It’s disturbing for this community, [on] a Sunday morning. I mean, it’s a time for families,” Spital said. “…The investigation has just gotten started, so our detectives, although they may not be on the scene here, are going to be working around the clock until they find the assailant.”

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue responded to a burned-up elevator motor at 226 Maple Avenue in Vienna on Saturday (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Metro Extends Blue Line Shutdown — The closure of all six Blue and Yellow Line stations south of Washington National Airport will now last until Nov. 5, instead of Oct. 22, as previously scheduled. Metro said Friday (Sept. 30) that “unexpected site conditions and remediation efforts” required the change, delaying the completion of the future Potomac Yard station in Alexandria. [WMATA, ALXnow]

Woman Killed in Annandale Hit-and-Run — “Officers investigating a fatal hit and run involving a pedestrian at Annandale Rd/Maple Pl in Annandale. The adult female pedestrian was taken to the hospital and succumbed to her injuries.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Herndon Man Charged With Leesburg Murder — “A man has been charged with second-degree murder and grand larceny following the death of a Leesburg, Virginia, man on Friday. Mario R. Hernandez-Navarrate, 19, of Herndon, Virginia, was apprehended Friday after being involved in a crash in the victim’s vehicle in Fairfax County, according to a police report.” [WTOP]

How to Help Those Affected by Hurricane Ian — “By now, many Fairfax County residents have seen the devastating images from Florida. It is natural to want to help. If you choose to donate in any way, here are a few ways to make sure your donation makes an impact.” [FCFRD]

Tysons Security Firm Helps With Hurricane Response — The Tysons-based security firm Global Guardian had a team of former CIA, FBI, and special forces members on the ground in Florida to help people caught up in Hurricane Ian last week. The company’s past work includes assisting with the evacuation of Ukranian refugees. [ABC7]

Overnight I-395 Lane Closures Start in Springfield — “The northbound I-395 general purpose lanes will have nightly lane closures at Edsall Road (Route 648), weather permitting, Monday night, Oct. 3 through Thursday night, Oct. 6 for bridge painting work…Each night, the left two lanes of northbound I-395 at Edsall Road will be closed at 10 p.m., followed by the left three lanes at 11 p.m.” [VDOT]

West Falls Church McDonald’s Eyes Renovation — “The second-oldest McDonald’s in Virginia – at 6729 Arlington Blvd. – is slated for a major upgrade to include a drive-through…Following a public hearing on Sept. 28, the Fairfax County Planning Commission deferred a decision on a zoning special exception until Oct. 12 to address concerns about the circulation pattern and parking.” [Annandale Today]

Longtime Mosaic District Tenant Goes Virtual — “Corporate employees at Merrifield’s Custom Ink LLC won’t need to go into the office again now that the company decided to offload its space. The 22-year-old custom-printing firm will seek to sublease its 73,000-square-foot corporate office in the Mosaic District and secondary 52,000-square-foot office in Reno, Nevada, beginning this fall.” [Washington Business Journal]

Silver Line Extension Sees First-Ever Train Operations — “Operator V. Bellamy (pictured below) pulling out from Dulles Yard to become the first train leaving Ashburn for simulated service today. Another great step in this milestone towards opening of the #SilverLineExtension.” [WMATA/Twitter]

It’s Monday — Possible light rain throughout the day. High of 56 and low of 47. Sunrise at 7:08 am and sunset at 6:50 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The West Falls Church Active Transportation Study area (via FCDOT)

The general public’s last chance to weigh in on Fairfax County’s ongoing study of the bicycle and pedestrian network in the West Falls Church Metro station area will come later than anticipated.

Two community meetings that had been scheduled for next week will instead be held on Oct. 26 and 27, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation announced yesterday (Thursday).

A virtual meeting has been set for 7:30-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, and county staff will also host an in-person meeting in Longfellow Middle School’s cafeteria at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27.

“The team felt like we had not given the amount of notice we had planned that we would ensure the most participation by residents and stakeholders in the community,” FCDOT told FFXnow. “This is the final round of community input and attendees will hear about the survey results on active transportation alternatives.”

Launched last December, the West Falls Church Active Transportation Study is intended to identify needed safety improvements and gaps in the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure within a 2-mile radius around the Metro station (7040 Haycock Road).

After paving the way for over 1 million square feet of new development, the county hopes the study will result in projects that can mitigate traffic and safety concerns raised by residents, some of whom have argued that the area can’t support the anticipated growth.

Replacing parking lots with housing, office, and retail construction, the proposed West Falls Church Metro redevelopment will include a new grid of streets that EYA — one of three developers involved in the project — has said should help alleviate pressure on the existing local streets.

However, that won’t address the missing sidewalks and lack of safe street crossings that community members highlighted during an initial round of public engagement on the transportation study in February.

The feedback will be used by county staff and a 13-person advisory group to develop recommendations for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on the future of non-motorized transportation in the area.

Adjacent to the Metro station redevelopment site, construction is underway on the West Falls project in neighboring Falls Church City, and plans were submitted last week for a major buildout of Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center campus.

Map via FCDOT

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Layout of the new self-storage facility being planned for Herndon (via Town of Herndon)

A new self-storage facility appears likely to replace a soon-to-be-demolished, four-decade-old warehouse in Herndon.

On Monday (Sept. 26), the Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission unanimously approved plans to construct a 30,000-square-foot Security Public Storage facility at 331 Victory Drive. The old warehouse currently on the site, located in a business park, would be demolished.

This came after a public hearing where a couple of neighbors shared their own approval for the project.

The new building will replace a warehouse originally built in 1982 that currently houses several tenants, including Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, which uses the space to build and store sets and props.

“This proposal will demolish an aging industrial building with a modern building that more efficiently uses the town’s limited space,” reads the staff report.

The project was first brought to the town’s Architectural Review Board back in April.

Renderings of the self-storage facility on Victory Drive in Herndon (via Town of Herndon)

Even with the commission’s approval, there remain several steps before demolition and construction can begin.

Next, the project goes to the Herndon Town Council for a public hearing. If it passes there, a site plan will undergo an administrative review, then return to the Architectural Review Board for another public hearing on the exterior. Finally, Security Public Storage can apply for building permits to start construction and demolition.

If and when all of that does happen, demolition and construction could take about a year to complete.

Several commissioners and neighbors said during the public hearing that the new building is expected to be an improvement over what’s there now.

A drive aisle will be removed, trash dumpsters will be shifted indoors, air conditioners placed on top of the building, and an on-site stormwater treatment solution will be installed.

Residents hope the changes will lead to less traffic, better landscaping, improved water quality, and a decrease in noise around the building, which borders about five single-family residences in the Van Buren Estates.

“Overall, we are very pleased with what the new building will be, removing the road, and moving the…trash dumpsters from the building,” one resident of Van Buren Estates said at the public hearing. “It’s definitely a big improvement.”

Residents and the commissioners still had some questions or concerns about the details of the plan. The length, material, and continuity of the fence dividing the self-storage facility from the residences as well as the landscaping were topics of discussion.

Some also wondered if the community actually needs another self-storage facility. With several multi-family developments in the pipeline for Herndon, Security Public Storage made the case that more self-storage would be needed.

While a couple of commissioners questioned that assertion, the project nonetheless proceeded forward.

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Duplexes are proposed to replace the Vienna Courts office condos (via Town of Vienna)

The Vienna Planning Commission made clear Wednesday (Sept. 28) that in concept, it’s in favor of redeveloping the Vienna Courts offices as duplex housing, but the lack of open space remains a sticking point.

After getting unanimous support for its proposed rezoning, developer BFR Construction Company merely eked out a win from the commission when it came to requested site modifications that it argued are necessary to build the planned residences.

The commission voted 4-3 to recommend that the Vienna Town Council approve reduced front and back yard setbacks, a lot area of 72,167 square feet, and an allowance for the development to cover 68% of the lot — slightly below the 70% that BFR is seeking.

“I don’t know if it’s this trade-off between additional parking and green space, but that’s where I would say I have remained a bit concerned,” Commissioner Jessica Ramakis said. “But again overall, [I] really appreciate all of the care in the proposal and that it would meet a need for having more units of this nature in the town.”

Initially envisioned as 30 residential units in 15 buildings, the Vienna Courts development was already tweaked to instead fit 28 units in 14 two-story buildings at 127-133 Park Street NE. The units will be 1,200 to about 1,900 square feet in size.

Developer BFR Construction has proposed building 14 duplexes with two units of housing each (via Town of Vienna)

The developer heard a desire for multi-family units in a variety of sizes “loud and clear”  from potential residents, BFR President Steve Bukont said after a public hearing where three Vienna residents voiced support for the project.

“I live in a fairly large, single-family home by myself now, unfortunately, and I’ve been looking for a place like this,” said Linda Wayne, who’s lived in the town for five years. “I’d like to continue to be in Vienna within walking distance of shopping, just all the amenities that Vienna offers.”

Wayne said the one-floor duplexes are preferable to a multi-story townhouse.

A 48-year resident of the Vienna area who lives alone after the death of her husband said the project “would be a very, very nice addition to our lovely town,” especially with its proximity to the Town Green and restaurants on Church Street.

The only neighbor to the property who appeared at the meeting was Stephen Cook, who confirmed that he will rebuild and live in his grandfather’s historic house at 135 Park Street. The 122-year-old home of local photographer T.R. Cook burned down in April.

Per Fairfax County property records, T.R. Cook sold the house to his grandson for $900,500 in December.

“I’m just happy to see that there’s generational ownership in town,” Commission Vice Chair David Miller said after Stephen Cook shared his plan. Read More

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