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:
- Lake Braddock
- Mount Vernon
- South Lakes
- Thomas Jefferson
- West Potomac
“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
A private elementary school in Vienna has big plans for the future, but it needs the town’s permission to realize them.
Green Hedges School is looking to add a new gymnasium, playgrounds, and an athletic field on its 4.3-acre campus at 415 Windover Avenue NW. The proposed expansion will also involve renovations to the main school building and the demolition of “several smaller buildings,” according to the Town of Vienna’s summary.
With portions of the main building — known as Kilmer Hall — now close to 50 years old, Green Hedges officials believe the time has come to pursue upgrades, as the school nears its 80th anniversary.
“The time is now to update our facilities, just to get them ready for the next 80 years, as I like to say,” Head of School Jennifer Bohnen said. “So, that’s part of it, just to make sure that our facilities are the best they can be for our students and our faculty.”
According to Bohnen, the school hopes to add a second floor to Kilmer Hall and construct a separate gym building. Right now, indoor athletic activities are held in a multipurpose room that also hosts theatrical performances, music classes, and student assemblies.
The proposed playground will replace equipment installed 20 years ago with a more “immersive,” hands-on facility “that is developmentally and age-appropriate” for all of Green Hedges’ students, who span toddlers to middle schoolers, Bohnen says.
“Our playground is going to feel much more natural, so it really fits in with the environment,” she told FFXnow, noting that the playground is planned instead of an underground recreational facility that was approved in 2017 but never built.
Buildings slated for demolition include a two-story residential house on Nutley Street and the school’s one-story Grace Hecker Rice Art Center, according to current and conceptual site plans submitted to Vienna.
Before any work can start, however, the school has to get the Vienna Board of Zoning Appeals’ approval to amend the conditional use permit that lets it exist in an otherwise entirely residential neighborhood.
Started in 1942 at its founders’ Arlington home, Green Hedges School relocated to its current site in Vienna’s historic Windover Heights district in 1955. It currently serves 190 students, starting at age 2 through eighth grade.
As part of the expansion project, the school is asking to bump up that enrollment cap, which has been in place since 1985, to 225 students. An increase in the 42 full-time employees allowed and additional parking spaces have also been requested.
The school can provide parking for up to 54 vehicles under an approved 2007 site plan, but it currently only has 48 spaces, according to the town.
“Green Hedges is thriving right now,” Bohnen said. “We’re in an all-time high with enrollment to amazing Vienna families, and…it’s an exciting time.”
The Vienna Planning Commission will discuss Green Hedges’ proposal during a work session at 6:30 p.m. today (Wednesday).
“Beltway Accord” Still a Mystery — More than two years after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and then-Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans to rebuild the American Legion Bridge, an actual, documented agreement remains elusive. Conflict over Maryland’s Capital Beltway toll lanes project has been a source of anxiety in McLean, where officials broke ground on the I-495 widening last month. [Maryland Matters]
Advocacy Groups Meet Incoming FCPS Superintendent — “On Friday, April 15, representatives of several advocacy groups met with Dr. [Michelle] Reid, as well as Fairfax County School Board Chair Stella Pekarsky and Vice Chair Rachna Sizemore Heizer, to discuss their concerns about the superintendent selection process.” [FCPS]
Registration Opens for Kids’ Summer Program — “The Fairfax County Park Authority is accepting registrations for Rec-PAC this summer at 30 elementary school locations across Fairfax County. Rec-PAC is an affordable, structured, six-week summer program for children in grades one through six featuring a different theme each week.” [FCPA]
New Concourse Planned at Dulles Airport — “A new 14-gate concourse at Dulles International Airport could open as soon as 2026 under plans outlined Wednesday…The $674.7 million project…would be the most significant upgrade to the airport in more than a decade. The planned 400,000-square-foot building would replace the single-story structure that handles regional and commuter flights at Dulles.” [The Washington Post]
Reston Station Adds Wealth Management Firm — Comstock announced on Tuesday (April 19) that the office and private investment firm Cresset Manager has signed a lease agreement for 11,500 square feet on the ninth floor of 1900 Reston Metro Plaza. The company is expected to relocate its D.C. area office, currently in Reston Town Center, to the new space in the third quarter of 2022. [Comstock]
Annandale Baseball Diamonds Renamed — “On Saturday, April 16, 2022, the Fairfax County Park Authority joined the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Annandale-North Springfield Little League (ANSLL) to rename the Pine Ridge Park baseball facilities to the Kehrer Baseball Complex…The change was made to honor two longtime ANSLL volunteers Darryl and Dawn Kehrer.” [FCPA]
Design Update Coming on Richmond Highway Bus Service — The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will host three in-person meetings this spring on Richmond Highway BRT. The first one is scheduled for April 28 at Bryant High School and will provide updates on the design and intersection improvements at North Kings Highway and Shields Avenue. [FCDOT]
It’s Thursday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 66 and low of 44. Sunrise at 6:25 am and sunset at 7:53 pm. [Weather.gov]
Testing is slated to begin on Thursday (April 7). A small drill rig will be used to complete the work via the cluster’s parking lot.
The work is the last step required by Fairfax County to move forward with the field’s redevelopment. It’s also required prior to site plan approval.
Reston Association plans to repurpose the field into a more welcoming community area to activate the site.
A pathway is planned on the perimeter, along with a walkway that cuts through the entire area. Features include a rain garden, library book share, major landscaping, and mile markers throughout the site.
A groundbreaking date has not yet been determined. RA needs the county to approve the redevelopment plan, because it will affect a major area.
“Once this testing has been completed and hopefully is within requirements, RA should be cleared with an approved minor site plan,” RA spokesperson Mike Leone told FFXnow. “If not, we might have to reconfigure a few minor things in the design to bring it to code.”
RA worked with neighboring property owners and associations to reactivate the site, which has not been used to its fullest extent in past years. The Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition encouraged RA to repurpose the ball field, which is no longer used by the Reston-Herndon Little League.
Kimley-Horn Associates has been working with RA on the project.
This work is related to the redevelopment of the field, and we require this test boring to fulfill the county’s requirements prior to site plan approval.#Reston #EnjoyReston #HunterWoods pic.twitter.com/kAzBJiTs4o
— Reston Association (@RestonOnline) March 31, 2022
Defamation Trial Over Domestic Violence Op-Ed Starts Next Monday — “Johnny Depp, 58, and Amber Heard, 35, who were briefly married from 2015 to 2017, are set to begin their long-anticipated defamation trial with jury selection that day. The trial is expected to last through the end of May, and the case has drawn national and international attention.” [Inside NoVA]
D.C. Area TV News Anchor Dies — “For decades, Bruce Johnson’s voice could be heard emanating from TV sets around the Washington region, delivering the day’s news with both gravitas and humor. Johnson, who spent 44 years at local CBS affiliate WUSA9, died of heart failure Sunday morning, according to the station.” [DCist]
Vienna Softball League Raises Funds to Repair Field — “Caffi Fields, three fields that are home to the Vienna Girls Softball League, undergo annual maintenance with thousands of dollars costs shared between the league and Town of Vienna. But the league says more extensive repairs are needed to make the fields more usable, prompting the launch of a community fundraiser.” [Patch]
Letter Highlights Herndon’s Ties to U.S. President — “President John Tyler (1790-1862) was born in Charles City County, Virginia, located along the James River, west of Williamsburg. His family had long roots in Virginia, dating back to Colonial Williamsburg…Their descendants, however, reached all the way to today’s Herndon.” [Herndon Historical Society/Patch]
Springfield Girls Hockey Team Competes in Nationals — The St. James girls hockey team was the only Virginia group competing in its division at a youth national championship tournament this past weekend. They played on Thursday (March 31), Friday (April 1) and Saturday (April 2) in West Goshen, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. [USA Hockey]
County Joins “City Nature Challenge” — “The challenge begins at 12:01 a.m. local time on April 29 and runs through 11:59 p.m. on May 2. Residents can take part by going outdoors in their neighborhood, backyard or a park, then look to see what’s there and take photos of wild plants, animals and fungi. Upload the photos through a free app provided by iNaturalist.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
Goat Gets Stuck in Fence at Frying Pan Farm — “There’s always that one kid. Some farm visitors noticed that one of our goats had decided to move to the next pasture and got stuck in the fence. Eric to the rescue! He’s worked at the farm long enough to know this game and easily helped free the goat from the fence.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]
It’s Tuesday — Rain throughout the day. High of 59 and low of 47. Sunrise at 6:48 am and sunset at 7:37 pm. [Weather.gov]