Fairfax County School Board member Megan McLaughlin will not be running for reelection in the Braddock District, as at-large member Rachna Sizemore Heizer sets her sights on the seat.
On Monday evening (Feb. 6), McLaughlin announced via a newsletter that she will officially “retire from this position” when her third term ends on Dec. 31, 2023.
“I have also been deeply honored by your tremendous support throughout my tenure,” McLaughlin wrote. “However after more than 15 years of service [including three terms as your School Board Member and previously as a community advocate], I believe it is the right time to provide an opportunity for others to carry on this important work.”
She told FFXnow in an email that the decision to retire “was very difficult” since advocating for students’ needs is the “best part” of public service.
“After 12 years, I will have done all that I can to help strengthen FCPS,” she said.
McLaughlin was first elected in 2012 and touts implementing later high school start times, establishing the Office of the Auditor General, and reforming student discipline practices to be less punitive as her biggest accomplishments during her tenure.
In 2020 and 2021, in the midst of Covid, McLaughlin advocated for schools to reopen. She called then-superintendent Scott Brabrand’s reversal of a decision to return to in-person learning a “breach of trust.”
For her remaining time on the board, McLaughlin told FFXnow that she looks forward to assisting Dr. Michelle Reid in her adjustment to being superintendent and adopting Fairfax County Public Schools’ new strategic plan.
“I will continue to champion stronger fiscal oversight of FCPS’ $3.5 Billion budget, and expanding access to Pre-K for our youngest learners,” she said. “And I will do my very best to help strengthen public trust and confidence in FCPS.”
With McLaughlin’s retirement, school board chair Rachna Sizemore Heizer announced this morning that she will run for the open Braddock District seat. She’s currently one of three countywide board members, but wants to represent her home district.
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past few years and excited to build on that progress because there is much more to be done,” she wrote in a statement. “Ensuring an inclusive and exceptional strengths-focused education for every child is more important than ever.”
When first elected in 2019, Heizer was the first Asian American woman and first Indian American person ever elected to a countywide position in Fairfax County.
Heizer said she’s “grateful” for McLaughlin’s 12 years on the board and thanked her for her attention to issues like restorative justice and student health as well as “her insistence that we pursue excellence in all we do on behalf of taxpayers and students alike.”
Heizer has been on the board for just over three years and touts her work expanding access to advanced academics, providing raises to teachers and staff, and shifting the school division’s culture to one that respects neurodiversity.
A Springfield gas station that has been owned by the same family since 1955 is getting a big makeover.
Applicant Capital Services, Inc. plans to convert four service bays into a two-story convenience store — an expansion predicted to result in roughly 900 additional trips in the area. An outdoor seating area, landscaping and stormwater management enhancements are also planned.
The increase in traffic, the gas station’s close proximity to a high-traffic area, and a planned pedestrian improvement project in the Braddock District prompted several amendments to the proposal.
“In what seemed to be a very straightforward application to exchange one accessory for another was complicated by the site’s location,” Braddock District Planning Commissioner Mary Cortina said.
The county and the applicant worked through a number of issues — including managing traffic from the gas station onto Braddock Road.
Cortina noted that traffic is already challenging in the Ravensworth Shopping Center where the station is located.
Braddock Road — which has expanded significantly since the gas station first opened — is also very close to the gas station.
The applicant’s representative, David Gill of Wire Gill, said the family is looking forward to expanding the “next phase of evolution for this family business.” The project was previously deferred after a July 27 public hearing.
Cortina said Capital Services agreed to restrict one entrance to be one-way-only and provide a pedestrian crossing in the area, a new landscape island, a dedicated loading space, a roof that could support solar equipment, and a parking space for electric vehicles.
Still, she noted that there is “very little room left” between Braddock Road and the gas station. County planners anticipate that the future Braddock Road multimodal project will continue despite space challenges.
That project will include a number of upgrades, like a pedestrian overpass west of Burke Lake Road and shared-use paths on both sides of Braddock Road. Design approval is anticipated in the spring.
Photo via Google Maps
Recent Gun Violence Leaves D.C. Area on Edge — “In the D.C. area in recent days, two shootings in crowded public spaces — at the festival on U Street and at a Fairfax County mall — reinforced that no one is immune from violence. As a result, some area residents have begun to pull back. People have started to think twice before going to concerts and the mall.” [The Washington Post]
Tysons Software Company Lays Off 54 Workers — “ID.me Inc. has laid off dozens of employees following a period of rapid growth and just months after the Internal Revenue Service halted use of ID.me’s facial recognition technology…The company had expanded rapidly during the pandemic to keep up with growing demand at the time” [Washington Business Journal]
Man Charged in Fairfax City Assault — “A Maryland man was charged in connection with an assault that took place Saturday afternoon on Main Street, Fairfax City police said in a news release. Ronaldo Thomas, 41, of Capital Heights, Maryland, was charged with one count each of strangulation and assault and battery in connection with the choking of a woman outside the Main Street Marketplace, police said.” [Patch]
Annandale Dollar Tree to Reopen — Construction appears to be underway to repair the entrance to the Dollar Tree in the Bradlick Shopping Center. The store has been closed since a car crashed through the glass doors in October, but signs posted on the new doors indicate the shop will reopen “soon” and is now hiring. [Annandale Today]
Still Crickets on Downtown Herndon Project — “It appears unlikely, virtually impossible, that Comstock could break ground on the Herndon Redevelopment Project before summer starts. A groundbreaking date was first anticipated in late 2019 with project completion possibly in 2021.” [The Connection]
Fairfax City Welcomes New Nail Salon — “Sure, it’s easy to find a nail salon in nearly every city. But one look inside Raizun Nail Spa in Fairfax City lets customers know this spacious and upscale business is different from the rest. ‘Their salon is absolutely gorgeous,’ said Danette Nguyen, the City’s assistant economic development director.” [The Connection]
Tropical Storm Ida Relief Still Available — “The Washington Metropolitan Area District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) reminds eligible business owners in Fairfax…to apply for working capital loans before the July 18 deadline. This disaster loan program is available to small businesses…and most private nonprofit organizations that were affected by the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida that occurred from Aug. 31 through Sept 4, 2021.” [Fairfax County Emergency Information]
Benches Dedicated to Former County Leaders — “Former Board Chairman and Braddock District Supervisor Sharon Bulova and former Braddock District Supervisor John Cook had benches dedicated in their honor at the Braddock District Office, which is also home to the Kings Park Library.” [Patch]
It’s Thursday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 75 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]
An affordable housing option for seniors will soon be available in an area of Braddock District where housing stock has been limited.
At a board meeting on Tuesday (May 10), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a financing plan to rehabilitate 120 senior affordable housing units and construct 60 new units at a project known as Little River Glen.
Financing on the project is expected to close in October. The county will likely begin once financing is secured following a two-year schedule.
“Accordingly, current projections would have completion in the fall 2024,” said Benjamin Boxer, spokesperson for FCHRA.
The project is spearheaded by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which owns Little River Glen I, a 120-unit building built in the 1990s and a senior center. FCHRA also owns an adjacent property that’s approved for 60 new senior affordable housing units, known in planning jargon as Little River Glen IV.
Both options will be restricted to seniors age 62 and above with incomes at or below 60% of the Area Median Income.
FCHRA is seeking multiple funding options for the project to move forward, including $7 million as a loan from the authority’s funding resources, $1.5 million from its operating fund, and $1.4 million in a loan from the county’s affordable housing development and investment fund.
Overall, the project requires up to $40 million in bonds to be authorized.
“Historically, the competing requirements tied to various funding sources have made it difficult to apply multiple resources to a project,” FCRHA Chairman Melissa McKenna wrote in a statement. “We’re proud of the fact that, over the last several years, we have led the way in rewriting the affordable housing playbook when it comes to the strategic investment of public resources to make it possible for projects like these to come alive.”
Both projects will be conveyed to LRG Apartments Limited Partnership, a limited partnership created and controlled by FCHRA as the sole controlling member.
Once completed, Little River Glen’s campus will see a boost in affordable housing options. It already includes Olley Glen, a 90-unit senior independent living building, and Braddock Glen, which includes 60 beds.
The existing community will get new cabinetry, upgraded kitchen appliances, new toilets, light fixtures, HVAC systems and bathtubs, and upgrades to the existing senior center.
A unique facility giving an array of services for older adults has opened at Braddock Glen.
The Wellness Center for Older Adults offers in-person and virtual services for people 50 and older as well as individuals with disabilities, similar to 14 other senior centers in Fairfax County. It offers exercise equipment; music, dance and art therapy; preventative health screenings; and other free resources, including access to computers.
“At the WCOA, ServiceSource is working alongside committed community partners to create a hub for wrap-around support, including recreation activities, technology access, educational presentations and programs and health screenings,” ServiceSource spokesperson Kendra Hand said in an email.
Opened in March, the center gives Fairfax County a new facility to support its growing senior population.
According to the county’s most recent demographic report, 22% of county residents were 55 or older in 2010. That increased to 26.8% in 2020 and is projected to peak at 28.3% in 2030.
The wellness center is scheduled to get a grand opening on May 19, with Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw and Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event will be livestreamed on the Fairfax County government’s Channel 16.
“The WCOA is unique in that it offers very inclusive services that are integrated into the center itself, so every individual is supported,” Hand wrote. “The programs at the center are adapted and modified to support every individual’s participation.”