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Fairfax County police car lights (file photo)

(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) A 20-year-old woman was killed and three other people were injured in a vehicle crash early this morning (Thursday) in Franconia.

The single-vehicle incident occurred around 12:25 a.m. on Manchester Blvd at Beulah Street, Fairfax County police reported.

According to police, a 2005 Toyota Solara was traveling east on Manchester near Silver Lakes Boulevard when it left the roadway and struck a telephone pole before coming to a stop.

An officer on patrol found the vehicle with its passenger side wrapped around a utility pole, trapping two occupants. The front-seat passenger, identified as Lorton resident Danight Girmay, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Toyota’s driver, Sara Flores, 20, of Lorton, and the two male passengers seated in the back of the vehicle were transported to a hospital. One person’s injuries were initially considered life-threatening, but their condition was later upgraded to non-life-threatening.

Manchester was closed until 5:30 a.m. for the crash reconstruction team and utility pole repairs.

The Fairfax County Police Department announced around 2:30 p.m. that Flores will be served with a warrant for driving under the influence when she’s released from the hospital.

“Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit determined speed was also a factor in the crash,” the department said. “Additional charges are pending. Details of the investigation will be presented to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for review.”

Girmay is the third person killed in a vehicle crash in Fairfax County this year who wasn’t a pedestrian. At this point in 2021, the county had recorded one such fatality, according to police.

Angela Woolsey contributed to this report.

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Morning Notes

A grassy field outside Wolf Trap National Park’s Filene Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Annandale Chick-fil-A Opens Today — “Chick-fil-A will open Thursday, April 7, at 7130 Little River Turnpike, Annandale…To celebrate the grand opening, the restaurant will surprise ‘100 local heroes making an impact in Annandale with free Chick-fil-A for a year.'” [Annandale Today]

Starkist HQ in Reston Now OpenRelocating from Pittsburgh, the tuna manufacturer opened its new corporate and administrative headquarters at 1875 Explorer Street in Reston Town Center on Tuesday (April 5). The office can accommodate more than 70 employees, and the company is marking its arrival with a community distribution event for the Reston-based nonprofit Feed the Children. [Starkist]

Commonwealth’s Attorney Expands Diversion for Non-Violent Crimes — “Under the program, called Taking Root, Fairfax prosecutors and defense attorneys can jointly recommend to judges that certain people accused of crimes be assigned to intensive programming instead of being prosecuted…The new program expands on existing diversion programs in Fairfax that have narrower eligibility requirements.” [DCist]

Masks No Longer Required at GMU — “In a message to the school community posted Tuesday, university president Gregory Washington announced GMU had switched to a mask-optional policy on all its campuses. He said the decision reflected low transmission and positivity rates in Fairfax County and nearby communities.” [WTOP]

Great Falls Group Has Ideas for Beltway Bridge Design — “When the construction dust settles, the orange cones are gone and work crews have relocated to snarl traffic elsewhere after completion of the 495 NEXT Project, the Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA) hopes an extra-nice-looking bridge will take Georgetown Pike over the Capital Beltway.” [Sun Gazette]

Vienna Could Get Specialized License Plate — The Town of Vienna plans to introduce a town-themed license plate after the Virginia General Assembly unanimously approved a bill from Del. Mark Keam letting localities cover the fees for the first 350 prepaid orders required by state law. The law takes effect on July 1, and the town council will then move to decide on a design. [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Squirrels Trigger Car’s “Check Engine” Light in Franconia — “Craftsman Auto Care — Alexandria, an auto repair shop at the Festival at Manchester Lakes shopping center, found three baby squirrels sleeping under the hood of a customer’s vehicle…As for the check engine light, it turned out that the babies’ mother squirrel had chewed through wiring in the vehicle.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Rain until evening. High of 55 and low of 46. Sunrise at 6:45 am and sunset at 7:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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For years, Fairfax County officials have conceded that county services in the Kingstowne area are scattered and its facilities small and outdated.

The county hopes that a multi-million-dollar project for a new government campus and library will help shift that narrative.

Construction is expected to begin this summer on the 90,000-square-foot project, which will house the Franconia Governmental Center, the Franconia Police Station, and Kingstowne Regional Library. The building will occupy a county-owned site between Beulah Street, Silver Lake Boulevard, and Interparcel Road.

“The design of the facility is complete, and we are currently in the process of getting bid authorization from the Cap Deputy Director,” said Sharon North, a spokesperson for the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.

North declined to provide a construction cost estimate because the project has not gone out to bid yet. That will happen in late March or early April.

Expected to be complete by 2024, the project is being funded partly through a $23 million public safety bond from fiscal year 2015 and a library bond referendum in fiscal year 2020.

The campus is expected to be the new home of an Active Adult Center with 7,200 square feet of space — nearly double its current size — and a 10,000-square-foot child care center for infants and preschool.

The Kingstowne Regional Library’s footprint will expand from 15,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. It will include more space for seating, four group study rooms, a teen zone with a gaming station, and extended hours for public meeting rooms.

Three public meeting rooms are also incorporated in the campus. A 182-space parking garage is planned for the public, along with a 172-space garage for the police station.

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Inova Health Systems still hopes to begin construction on its planned Franconia-Springfield expansion in 2023, even after encountering delays in Fairfax County’s rezoning process.

The nonprofit health care provider spent more than $40 million in 2020 to acquire property in a residential area near its Inova HealthPlex at 6355 Walker Lane, turning the site into a 21-acre campus.

To accommodate the development, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors initiated a process in February 2021 for amending the county’s Comprehensive Plan. However, a scheduled public hearing on the proposed amendment before the planning commission is currently deferred, with a new date yet to be determined.

First announced in May 2020, the project is part of a region-wide overhaul by Inova to expand access and services, improve facilities and reinvest its nonprofit resources. Construction on an Alexandria expansion began in November.

The existing 145,000-square-foot health care complex in Franconia will remain, but three six-story medical buildings will be added to the site, under Inova’s proposal.

Plans call for two new towers with 425,000 square feet of space combined and 125-150 hospital patient beds, as well as the relocation of an emergency department, allowing the facility to provide other services, according to Tim Sampson, a land use attorney representing Inova.

The expansion also includes a 140,000-square-foot outpatient center and parking garage.

“The existing HealthPlex will be fully integrated into the new campus,” spokesperson Tracy Connell said in a statement. “The ER will move to the hospital and that space will be filled with another medical service.”

At a later point, a hospital wing and an approximately 80,000-square-foot office building could be added.

Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said at an online community meeting last September that the expansion would serve the area’s need for more beds and facilities.

If the project gets the county’s approval, Inova expects construction to begin next year and finish in 2027.

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Morning Notes

A boat on Lake Audubon in Reston (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Trucker Convoys Could Affect Capital Beltway — Traffic on the Capital Beltway could become clogged in the coming weeks as truck drivers plan to descend on D.C. to protest Covid-related health rules. One convoy reportedly left Scranton, Pennsylvania, yesterday (Wednesday), but the organizer has backed off plans to shut down the Beltway. [NBC4]

Police Union Unhappy with Proposed Budget — The Virginia Police Benevolent Association Fairfax County Chapter president criticized the proposed county budget for not giving officers 15% raises, saying this could worsen vacancies. Board Chairman Jeff McKay countered that the plan presented on Tuesday (Feb. 22) increases the average police pay by 8%. [ABC7]

Peloton Closes Franconia Warehouse — The New York-based exercise equipment company has shut down its operations in Fleet Industrial Park at 6304 Gravel Avenue, affecting 81 employees, according to a notice filed with the Virginia Employment Commission on Feb. 8. [Washington Business Journal]

Ad for Next FCPS Superintendent Ready — “This week, our superintendent recruitment consultant finalized the outline of what the FCPS community is looking for in the next superintendent based on feedback from families and staff. You can read the qualities in a recently released advertisement.” [FCPS]

Herndon Seeks Applicants for Diversity Committee — The Town of Herndon is now looking for applicants to fill 11 seats on its newly created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. The group will recommend policies and activities to foster diversity as well as ways to address concerns of minority residents and businesses. [Town of Herndon]

Vienna Issues Bonds for Capital Projects — The Vienna Town Council issued $12.5 million in general obligation public improvement bonds on Tuesday (Feb. 22) that will be used to fund sidewalk, paving, parks, and water infrastructure projects. Work on those projects could begin as soon as the winning bid is closed on March 8. [Town of Vienna]

How Chantilly School Is Using Covid Relief Funds — “Rocky Run [Middle School] educators reviewed standardized testing data, teacher recommendations and work samples to decide which students to target for services and materials funded by the federal money.” [FCPS]

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The Franconia Governmental Center (via Google Maps)

County officials are moving one step forward in redeveloping the Franconia Governmental Center (6121 Franconia Road) into affordable housing.

Earlier this month, the county issued a formal request for proposals — known in planning jargon as an RFP — for the site, which is home to the 25,800-square-foot center.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized a land transfer in early March to allow the project to proceed. The property was conveyed to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCHRA).

The entity is currently seeking a qualified developer to design, construct, and own the affordable housing site under the terms of a “long-term, nominal fee ground lease” from FCHRA.

While specifics of the development are not yet known, the site cannot host more than 120 residential units. A county spokesperson told FFXnow that the scope, cost, and nature of the project will depend on the selected developer.

All proposals are due by April 14. The county plans to select a developer in the summer.

“Once a developer is selected, they would begin a comprehensive community engagement process in tandem with initial land use actions required as part of the county’s land development process,” said Ben Boxer, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

Built in 1992, the building is home to Franconia District Police Station, the Lee District supervisor’s offices, and the Franconia Museum. County officials have stated that the site is “functionally obsolete” due to limited parking and lack of suitability for modern-day police operations.

The center’s services will be relocated to a new Kingstowne Governmental Center, which will be built on a parcel between Beulah Street and Silver Lake Boulevard in Kingstowne.

This is not the first time that the county has contemplated redeveloping county-owned land into affordable housing.

In late January, the board transferred its 1,300-space surfacing parking lot at the Government Center Campus to FCHRA for affordable housing. The county is also exploring the possibility of permanently dedicating public land to affordable housing.

Image via Google Maps

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