Fairfax County has harnessed the fiery power of the sun for two of its fire stations.
The Reston and Woodlawn fire stations are now home to rooftop solar photovoltaic arrays that will generate 17% of the electricity needed for the buildings to operate.
The facilities are the county’s first to get major rooftop solar installations, a milestone that local officials plan to celebrate with a ceremonial flipping of the power switch at the Woodlawn station this Wednesday (Sept. 27).
“Combined, the projects will generate 100 kW of power and provide about 17% of the electricity needed for the two stations,” John Silcox, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination (OEEC), said. “The projects are being managed through an energy performance contract with engineering consulting firm CMTA that will save the county nearly $13,000 in the first year.”
The projects support the county’s operational energy strategy, which aims to ensure that 50% of electricity generated by county facilities comes from renewable energy sources like solar by 2040, among other goals.
The Reston and Woodlawn fire stations were both recently renovated. The approximately $15 million new Reston station at 1820 Wiehle Avenue reopened in the spring of 2022, while the renovation of the Woodlawn station at 8701 Lukens Lane was completed in 2021.
More solar installations will happen at other county facilities this year, Silcox said.
The county has been pursuing a number of solar projects under a power purchase agreement (PPA) initiative announced in 2019, but collapsed lease negotiations with one of the contracted vendors, supply chain issues and rising material costs created complications.
After initially pursuing the Reston Fire Station project and others through the PPA initiative, the county opted instead to hire an energy efficiency firm to install the solar panels in conjunction with other energy upgrades.
Similar projects are in the works at the Sully Community Center, the Spring Hill Rec Center in McLean, the Pender building and the upcoming Springfield commuter parking garage. Another 17 sites are in line for installations next year, county staff told the Board of Supervisors at an environmental committee meeting in July.
OEEC Division Manager for Innovation and Sustainability John Morrill previously told FFXnow that PPA contracts — where the panels are provided by a private company that covers all installation, managment and maintenance costs — are better suited to large-scale projects, like a 40-acre array planned at the I-95 Landfill Complex in Lorton.
Facing financial constraints, Fairfax County hopes to defer some public safety projects as part of its bond referendum plan.
At a Fairfax County Planning Commission meeeting late last month, county staff announced intentions to establish a 2024 bond referendum for the Tysons Fire Station. The move would push a referendum for the Chantilly Fire Station from 2024 to 2030 and plans for the fire department’s well-fit training facility to 2030.
A significant portion of the bond program goes to required contributions toward Metro, county staff say.
“It eats into our capacity for other program areas,” Martha Reed, the capital programs coordinator of the Department of Management and Budget, said.
According to Reed, fire department officials were comfortable with postponing the planned project for a new Chantilly Fire Station. The building, which is currently aging, is surrounded by a new development. She also noted that there are early and preliminary talks to redevelop the fire station.
Public safety officials also said they were comfortable with delaying a referendum for a new police station in Tysons.
The county is considering including a new place for the Criminal Justice Academy in the 2024 bond referendum, which would push out a referendum for Tysons Police Station to 2030.
In other parts of the county, a new Chantilly Library was pushed out from 2026 to 2032.
The Tysons Fire Station is the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department’s top priority, according to a summary of the proposed CIP. The county has money for the project design, but not enough for construction, and funds from proffers were also delayed, Reed said.
The project deferrals reflect challenges with the county’s bond referendum plan — namely backlogs in unsold bonds. After they’re approved by voters, bonds must be sold within eight years unless the courts grant a possible two-year extension.
Challenges include restrictions on annual bond sale amounts, changes to projects after voter approval, and project delays, Reed said.
Additionally, the county has factored in a roughly 10 to 12% buffer to project costs due to inflation and escalating costs in construction bids.
A report by a joint county and schools CIP committee recommended devoting one penny on the real estate tax rate toward debt service payments.
The report, completed in 2021, also recommended gradually increasing the limit on annual General Obligation bond sales from $300 to $400 million. Bonds are typically what finance most capital projects.
The county is also exploring other sources for project funding. The old Mount Vernon High School redevelopment, for example, will be supported by Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority bonds. The Tysons Community Center relies on a partnership with the Dominion Square developers.
Bonds by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority are expected to be sold in fiscal year 2024, which begins on July 1.
But Dranesville District Commissioner John Ulfelder said he was concerned about the Tysons police station’s deferral “in light of current events” in the area, namely the recent fatal police shooting at Tysons Corner Center.
“My concern is there is a fair amount of crime in Tysons, or certainty it gets publicity,” Ulfelder said.
The county will revisit its CIP with the commission on March 29, followed by public hearings before the Board of Supervisors on April 11, 12, and 13. The final version will be adopted on May 2.
The one-story fire station on Sleepy Hollow Road in Seven Corners is now coming down after standing for almost half a century.
Demolition work began last week on Station 28 at 2949 Sleepy Hollow Road to make way for the construction of a new, larger facility on the same site, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department announced Monday (Dec. 12).
Firefighters and other personnel moved out of the 8,518-square-foot building back in February, relocating operations to 6637 South Street. The temporary firehouse was previously utilized by the Jefferson Fire Station until that permanent station opened in October 2021.
Originally opened in 1977, the Seven Corners Fire Station had just two vehicle bays and lacked locker rooms and other accommodations for female employees, according to FCFRD.
The replacement station will be 13,513 square feet in size with two stories, three vehicle bays, additional locker room and bunk space, and a storage outbuilding.
Construction was once expected to begin in the fall of 2021, but the county didn’t open bids for a contractor until this past April, ultimately awarding the contract to Roanoke-based Branch Builds Inc. As of September, the project carried an estimated cost of $15.9 million — exceeding the $13 million it received from a public safety bond in 2018.
The difference will be covered by the county’s Public Safety Contingency Fund and a reserve fund specifically intended for escalating construction costs, according to the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.
FCFRD says construction will begin in the “not-too-distant future” with completion now expected in late 2024.
Last week, demolition began on Station 28, Seven Corners. Station was opened in 1977. Construction of a new station, on site of old one, is slated to begin in the not-too-distant future. Personnel and equipment will operate out of a temporary fire station down the street. #FCFRD pic.twitter.com/a5WOnuQdRq
— Fairfax County Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) December 12, 2022
Sidewalk Projects Planned to Address Route 7 Pedestrian Safety — Virginia and Fairfax County officials are working to add sidewalks along Route 7 in the Culmore area of Bailey’s Crossroads. Prioritized sites include the Liberty gas station where a pedestrian was hit and killed by a vehicle in December, prompting safety advocates to campaign for improvements. [Annandale Today]
Person Rescued from Lincolnia House Fire — “Units arrived on scene with smoke visible and fire on the second floor. Two of three occupants evacuated the home prior to fire department arrival. One occupant was trapped in a bedroom. Crews rescued the occupant via a ground ladder — unharmed!” [FCFRD]
Former FCPD Officer Sentenced in Daughter’s Death — Jason Michael Colley pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree assault in Frederick County Circuit Court last week in connection to his 6-month-old daughter’s death in 2017. Sentenced to a combined 50 years, he will serve eight in private home detention and serve five years of supervised probation on the condition that “he not engage in physical punishment of children.” [ABC7]
Old Dominion Drive Closed for Two Days — “Old Dominion Drive (Route 738) will be closed to through traffic between Balls Hill Road (Route 686) and Route 123 (Dolley Madison Boulevard), weather permitting, from 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9 to replace stormwater pipes…Traffic will be detoured via Balls Hill Road, Lewinsville Road (Route 694) and Route 123 back to Old Dominion Drive.” [VDOT]
Two Charged in McLean Church Burglary — Two men were reported forcing entry into the Faith Bible Presbyterian Church (6901 Haycock Road) through a window at 5:17 p.m. on July 31. Officers found the 18-year-olds inside the church, taking property. They were both charged with burglary and property destruction, and one of them was charged with providing false identification to law enforcement. [FCPD]
Reston Assault by Teens Under Investigation — “Officers from the Reston District Station of the Fairfax County Police Department are investigating an assault that occurred Wednesday night in the South Lakes area, according to the weekly crime report. Around 10:45 p.m., a group of teens stole property and assaulted a person in the 11900 block of Barrel Cooper Court…The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries” [Patch]
Renovation of Merrifield Fire Station Complete — “After a little over two years, the renovation at Station 30, Merrifield, is complete. [Thursday], crews moved back in. Station was totally operationally during the renovation with a trailer for personnel in back. The reno included an addition of 440 square feet.” [FCFRD/Facebook]
Graffiti by Soldiers Revealed at Historic Fairfax Farmhouse — “Between March 1862 and June 1863, hundreds of Union soldiers left their enduring marks in charcoal, graphite or crayon on the walls of the attic and first and second floors of Historic Blenheim, a brick 1859 farmhouse and 12-acre estate on what is now Old Lee Highway.” [WTOP]
It’s Monday — Humid throughout the day. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:17 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]
Virginia Reports Second Case of Monkeypox — “The patient is an adult male resident of the Northern region of Virginia who was exposed out of state. The Virginia patient did not require hospitalization and is isolating at home. To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided.” [VDH]
Discrimination Lawsuit Details Issues at Annandale Apartments — “The Fairfax County Circuit Court heard a case [Friday] that shined a light on the filthy and inhumane conditions at Fairmont Gardens in Annandale. Dean Sanchez, a former leasing agent, is suing the Donaldson Group, the company that owns the apartment complex…Sanchez reports the apartments are infested with mice, bedbugs, roaches, and mold.” [Annandale Today]
Man Arrested in McLean Charged in Capitol Storming — “A U.S. Naval reservist who was assigned to an agency that operates spy satellites told an undercover FBI agent that he stormed the U.S. Capitol with members of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group and has espoused anti-government and antisemitic ideologies, federal authorities said in court records unsealed on Thursday.” [NBC4]
Lawsuit Alleges FCPS Mishandled Sexual Assault Complaint — “Lawyers for a former Fairfax County student recently filed an amended complaint against the Fairfax County School Board outlining allegations of an unsafe environment that led to repeated sexual harassment and sexual assaults of the student.” [Inside NoVA/WTOP]
Metro Introduces $2 Weeknight Fares — “Lower-priced unlimited Metrorail and Metrobus monthly passes are now on sale for travel beginning July 1, providing more flexibility and value to customers who may no longer be commuting five days a week. And beginning Monday, June 27, all customers traveling on Metrorail after 9:30 p.m. on weekdays will benefit from a flat fare of $2 per one-way trip.” [WMATA]
Police Investigate Fairfax City Shooting — “The founder of a non-profit that builds schools for girls in Africa was found shot to death inside his Fairfax city home Friday morning.” [NBC4]
Falls Church Abortion Clinic Plans Expansion — “Falls Church Healthcare Center is working to expand capacity because they suspect they’ll soon get more out-of-state patients. They are looking to add more appointments, considering adding an extra day for scheduling and hiring nurse practitioners to deliver care.” [DCist]
New Lorton Fire Station Gets Grand Opening — “The new $14 million fire station is significantly larger, has energy efficient and environmentally sustainable features, and was outfitted to comfortably accommodate both male and female members of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and the volunteer fire company.” [On the MoVe]
It’s Monday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 80 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]
Baby Born at Reston Fire Station Makes Visit — “Today, Station 25, Reston, B-Shift hosted Baby Ivy, who made her entrance into the world in Station 25 parking lot recently, and her big brother, mom and dad. 25-B were thrilled and presented the family w/station shirt/patch. Baby Ivy brought some goodies for the shift!” [FCFRD/Twitter]
TJ Students Reflect on First Year Under New Admissions System — “As the adults did battle in courtrooms, students such as Sarah Castillo were reconsidering their options. Hundreds of students who had neither thought of applying to TJ, nor felt they had a chance of acceptance under the old admissions system, now took the plunge — and some of them, including Sarah, got in.” [The Washington Post]
Burke House Fire Leads to Over $500K in Damages — Smoldering embers dropped in a pile of sawdust ignited a house fire in the 8900 block of Arley Drive on Thursday (May 26) that displaced two people and resulted in $516,075 in damages. Firefighters at the scene saw “heavy fire” through the two-story house’s roof, and one resident got minor injuries. [FCFRD]
Over a Quarter of Primary Mail Ballots Returned — “We’ve had about 28% of #votebymail ballots returned so far in the Democratic primary for the 8th Congressional District. Return your ballot now or #voteearly in person at the Fairfax County Govt. Center” [Fairfax County Office of Elections/Twitter]
West Falls Church Restaurant Closed Permanently — DC Steakholders owners Usman and Lilly Bhatti said in a May 4 message that “inflation, staffing shortages, and rising food costs have taken a toll on our business,” noting that their food trucks and catering business will continue. The restaurant first opened on Arlington Blvd. in April 2019 and served burgers and frozen custard. [Annandale Today]
Reston Food Delivery Business Plans Expansion — “Frolick is a fresh take on food delivery, offering a rotating menu of chef-prepared meals — delivered for now only in Northern Virginia but soon expanding to D.C. and then, perhaps, well beyond…Frolick was born in the summer of 2021 with a big assist from GateGroup, the Swiss-based airline catering giant whose North American headquarters is in Reston.” [DC Inno]
Future Springfield Town Center Hotel Site Sold — “PREIT…announced execution of a purchase and sale agreement for 11 outparcels that will generate gross proceeds in excess of $32 million. The Company also executed an agreement of sale for a vacant parcel at Springfield Town Center set to be developed into a hotel site for $2.5 million as the Company executes on its vision of delivering one-stop destinations for the communities it serves.” [PREIT]
Jefferson Manor Kids Start Pet Directory — “Two sisters in Alexandria, Virginia, created a directory of all the neighborhood pets to raise money for good causes and bring the community together.” There have been 144 different pets submitted to the directory so far. [NBC4]
Free Fishing Day This Weekend — The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources is helping people learn how to fish with an event from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. this Saturday (June 4) at Burke Lake. Equipment and bait are provided, and attendees don’t need to purchase a fishing license. [DWR]
It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 87 and low of 73. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:30 pm. [Weather.gov]
Firefighters at the Reston Fire Station on Wiehle Avenue were met with a different kind of task this morning (Tuesday).
A crew of fire fighters helped deliver a baby around 8:30 a.m. today. According to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, the parents were on their way to the hospital, but the baby simply could not wait.
The car pulled up in the station’s parking lot, and everything was history after that point. After the birth, the fire department provided transportation to the hospital, and both mom and baby are now doing well.
There is no word yet on the little human’s name.
Special delivery! 🍼 Fire Station 25, Reston, B-Shift delivered a healthy baby girl in the parking lot of station around 8:30 this morning. Parents were headed to hospital but baby could not wait! 👶🏼 Fortunately they saw the station, drove in, and notified shift! Congrats all! pic.twitter.com/xEgDrYnNqS
— Fairfax County Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) May 17, 2022
Fairfax County staff are moving ahead with a project to relocate the Penn Daw fire station and Fort Belvoir’s Eleanor Kennedy Shelter.
The new facilities will be built on the site of the former Hybla Valley Nursery (2801 Beacon Hill Road), which the county bought for $3 million in 2020, meaning the existing fire station would move one block south.
“[W]e are currently in the process of contract negotiations with an architectural firm, so concepts have not been drafted yet,” Fairfax County public works spokesperson Sharon North said in an email Tuesday (April 5). “We are currently planning for zoning approvals in Spring 2023 and permit approvals in Spring 2024.”
Construction could start in late summer 2024 and be complete at the end of 2026, county staff said.
The project is being funded by approved bond money, including $10 million from a public safety bond in 2015. A total of $15.4 million has been set aside for the fire station, according to the county’s proposed fiscal year 2023 budget. A 2016 approved bond included $12 million for the Eleanor Kennedy shelter.
The county has said the new shelter will have 50 emergency shelter beds and 20 single-occupant permanent supportive housing units. The new fire station will accommodate 23 staff.
The planned facilities reflect the county’s push for more robust development along the Richmond Highway corridor, including in the Penn Daw Community Business Center. In February, the county board approved a private housing development by Shields Avenue to the north, and the branding for a planned bus rapid transit service was unveiled.