The Town of Herndon is moving forward with a multi-million-dollar contract to restore more than 1,000 feet of Sugarland Run Stream.
At a Herndon Town Council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday), the council is expected to vote on awarding a nearly $964,000 contract to KBS Earthworks, Inc. to complete the project.
Public bidding on the project closed on Sept. 9. The lowest bidder — Geomorphic Restoration — did not respond to the town’s request for additional documentation.
“The next lowest bidder KBC Earthworks, Inc., has been found to be responsive and responsible,” John Irish, deputy director of the town’s public works department, said in a statement.
The project includes restoring 1,100 linear feet of the stream, along with 250 linear feet of three tributaries on the town’s property. The design also includes pedestrian access to the east side of the project.
The trail will remain open during restoration, but the portion of the trail central to the site will be replaced during the construction project.
“Stream restoration will include but are not limited to constructed riffles, rock cross vanes, rock toe revetments, plunge pools and rock outfall channels,” a staff memo says.
The project has been in the works for years. Stream restoration creates a stable channel using natural materials to restore the function, dynamics and structure of the stream to the maximum extent possible, according to the town.
A project timeline was not immediately available.
A major piece of the Town of Herndon’s vision for development around the Herndon-Monroe Metro Station has officially been approved.
The Herndon Town Council unanimously voted to approve Lerner Enterprises’ proposal for the Parkview development, which would bring a little over one million square feet of development to the north entrance of the Herndon-Monroe Metro Station.
Town of Herndon Mayor Sheila Olem said she was confident that the project brings the town vision for its transit-oriented core to life.
“You always put really high quality facilities in,” Olem said to the development team.
The plan includes three buildings that could take two possible forms: a mixed-use development with two residential towers and an office tower or three office towers.
In the first mixed-use option, both residential towers would be oriented towards Herndon Parkway and Worldgate Drive, standing 225 feet and 275 feet tall. The office building would be 275 feet tall.
Both options include between 10,000 and 12,500 square feet or retail.
The office-only option would include three office towers that are 225 and 275 feet tall.
A major feature of the plan — and the subject of vigorous discussion — was creating a pedestrian-centric environment. A central plaza will connect the three towers in both development options.
The proposal has been in the works for years. After an initial filing in 2019, the development team pared down the project with less density and reduced building heights.
The 5-acre site is currently home to an office building that was built in the 1980s and surface parking.
Lerner is one of two developers that will contribute funds to help construct the Herndon Promenade, a planned public open space that will usher Metro users into the town.
Lori Greenely, the development’s land use attorney, said that the project was “challenged by significant transportation structure on all four sides” of the property.
“It either furthers the vision adopted by the council or it furthers the ability of pedestrian or bikes to get to Metro or is furthers the traffic,” Greenly noted.
She said the development team incorporated transportation infrastructure improvements to ensure the project was pedestrian-friendly.
Discussions will continue on how to best establish a sense of place in the development.
With the opening of phase two of the Silver Line expected in October, local governments are preparing public services to connect efficiently to the new stations.
In the latest initiative, the Herndon Town Council is poised to approve a $410,000 contract to build a new trail connection to the Herndon Metro Station. The proposal is set for a vote at a council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).
The 8-foot-wide asphalt trail would run from Worldgate Drive through the existing Metro station pavilion entrance, according to the town’s Deputy Director of Public Works John Irish.
Irish noted that the project has been long in the works as part of the county’s capital improvements plan for years.
“We’ve spend years trying to get easements to construct this,” Irish said.
The project was bid out to A.P. Construction, LLC. The trail would be open to pedestrians and bicyclists. A timeline for construction and completion was not immediately available.
Since 1991, people outside the Town of Herndon have been able to take advantage of its parks and recreation scholarship program, which awards fee waivers to participants enrolled in federally-funded, low-income programs.
A proposal before the Herndon Town Council aims to restrict eligibility for that program to town residents. If adopted by the council, the move would align with neighboring jurisdictions that offer fee waivers to residents only.
The program was temporarily put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, according to Cindy Roeder, the Herndon Parks and Recreation Department director.
If the proposal is approved, participants ages 17 and under would be eligible for a 50% fee reduction and participants 18 and older would receive a 25% reduction.
At a meeting on Tuesday (July 5), council members and staff expressed support for the changes, noting that area jurisdictions have similar models in place.
“That is a good basis for why we wanted ours this way as well,” Roeder said.
Councilmember Signe Friedrichs said jurisdictions throughout the state offer robust programming for residents, giving non-residents many options for recreational programming and services.
“If every single other jurisdiction only gives to discounts to their own residents and we are one of the most highly taxed districts in Northern Virginia, I don’t see why we would not follow suit in that area,” Friedrichs said.
Currently, the town plans to allocate $10,000 to the program for fiscal year 2023.
Councilmember Pradip Dhakal, who called the program a step in the “right direction,” suggested upping the cap to $20,000 to meet demand. Staff noted that changes to allocations are flexible.
The town’s parks department has managed the fee waiver program since 2010, including collecting scholarship funds and verifying eligibility. Before then, the nonprofit Cornerstones — then known as Reston Interfaith — handled the program but later withdrew because it didn’t align with the organization’s mission.
Town Manager Bill Ashton II said a discomfort with holding on to other people’s financial records — which is currently required for the town to manage the fund — also motivated the search for a new model.
Elections in the Town of Herndon could see some big changes as early as next year.
At a meeting earlier this week, Herndon Town Council began preliminary discussions on changes to elections, including the possibility of increasing and staggering the terms of office and instituting term limits.
Staff are also exploring the creation of town voting districts or wards, but council members said they would need to court significant public feedback before considering possible changes.
Any changes to the elections process could require updates to the town’s charter, town code and an amendment to the state’s constitution.
For example, increasing the terms of office would require amendments to the town charter and the town code, while staggered terms would only require an amendment to the town charter.
Term limits would require an amendment to the town charter and the state’s constitution. Town voting districts only requires an amendment to the town code.
If the town proceeds with any changes, the council will consider moving the legislation to the General Assembly. An ordinance, which must first be adopted by the town council, has to be forwarded to state legislators before Dec. 1 to be considered in the next session.
The earliest changes would go into effect is July 1, and the earliest town council terms would change is November 2024.
Councilmember Sean Regan said he would only want to move forward with the discussion if town residents favor changes. Other council members said they were unsure if it was worth investing town staff and resources into the endeavor.
Overall, the council leaned on exploring four-year terms on a staggered basis.
“We want to go with the voice of 24,000 people,” Regan said, adding that he wants to find out what the “pulse of the people” is on possible changes.
Currently, Herndon has no voting districts. Proceeding with proposed boundaries would require pre-clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Most council members were wary of the proposal.
Councilmember Pradip Dhakal said he was concerned that proceeding with voting wards may not be suitable for a small town like the Town of Herndon.
“It seems so complicated for a small town,” concurred Councilmember Signe Friedrichs.
She also cautioned that it may be too early to consider changes, given the looming Dec. 1 deadline for submitting legislation.
Olem said separating the town into districts could result in divisiveness, with residents from specific areas pitted against each other.
Councilmember Jasbinder Singh — who originally pitched the idea — said the redevelopment of downtown Herndon takes up too much focus from the town and that more representation for other parts of town is needed.
“The energy is taken by the downtown,” said Singh.
Town Attorney Lesa Yeatts cautioned that opening the charter for amendments could result in other changes at the hands of General Assembly members.
“Sometimes, the General Assembly can take liberties and they can amend in ways that once its open, it’s open,” Yeatts said.
However, she noted that it’s much more likely that the General Assembly would deny or accept the proposal, not offer major changes.
The Herndon Town Council is exploring ways to improve safety and security in the town, possibly through increased police presence.
The idea, pitched by Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila at a quarterly strategy meeting late last month, could involve more foot patrols in the community, primarily an effort to curb traffic-related issues.
Del Aguila says that for a small town like Herndon, safety and security can be enhanced with visibility and is less contingent on policing and enforcing.
“The bigger question is, if this is truly a desired need for us, how many police officers would we need? What would that entail?” he said.
Councilmember Signe Friedrichs said a “culture of impunity” is particularly problematic on the town’s roads, pointing to “drag racing along H-mart.”
The town is limited in its ability to install red light cameras and other similar traffic-calming methods by statute, according to town staff.
In light of the town’s limitations, Councilmember Sean Regan said Herndon could also explore installing more devices that indicate the vehicle’s speed.
According to del Aguila and other council members, part of the challenge to making law enforcement approachable is that the police officers are interacting with a growing Spanish-speaking population, which can lead to barriers born out of communication gaps.
Police Chief Maggie DeBoard said she is aware of the issue and recently hired Hispanic police officers. The department also encourages officers to undergo language training.
Overall, Mayor Sheila Olem said the town’s police officers are generally very “well-received” in the community.
The Town Council’s discussion will be followed by a staff analysis looking at next steps, including how many police officers would be needed to expand the department’s presence and what such an initiative would entail.
The council discussed other priorities at the quarterly meeting, including the possibility of making some motor vehicle services more permanent.
Residents of Leona Lane in Herndon are seeking the town’s help to rectify long-term parking issues in the area.
The neighborhood is constrained by limited curbside parking, limited space for emergency vehicles, sight line issues, and trash and litter, according to residents. They also say they’ve had trouble getting town services like trash, recycling, and snow and leaf removal.
After investigating the matter, Town Manager Bill Ashton II said he discovered residents of an adjacent neighborhood have been taking up most of the available parking space along Leona Lane from the intersection with Marjorie Lane and its associated cul-de-sac.
An April petition from the Runnymede Manor Homeowners’ Association with 14 signatures made its way to the town, asking officials to consider creating a residential parking permit zone on Leona Lane. The Herndon Town Council is considering the proposal — which would restrict parking from midnight to 7 a.m. daily — at a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).
“Staff will work with the homeowners to implement the program in the affected areas and will watch carefully to determine if additional action should be taken,” Ashton wrote in a statement.
The town’s engineering staff found that restricting parking is necessary for safety reasons. They recommended removing 13 spaces to improve sight lines and access for emergency vehicles as part of the parking zone.
The implementation of the parking zone is the first planned step in rectifying ongoing issues in the neighborhood.
Ashton said town staff will monitor the area to determine if implementing parking restrictions shuffles issues to another section of Leona Lane.
The zone would only apply to Leona Lane from its intersection with Marjorie Lane to the cul-de-sac where Leona ends.
A vote is expected on June 14.
Down the road, Herndon residents may not have to travel as far to access services by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The Herndon Town Council is exploring the possibility of bringing permanent DMV services to the town — an initiative that was broadly discussed at the council’s quarterly strategy meeting late last month.
It’s not the first time council members have floated the idea.
At a strategy meeting earlier this year, the council directed staff to research the possibility of more permanent services in the town.
In response to that directive, Town Manager Bill Ashton III told the council on May 26 that a partnership to bring the DMV to Herndon Fortnightly Library was underway — similar to services provided prior to the beginning of the pandemic.
“This location is ideal because of the ample parking conveniently located in downtown right off the [Washington & Old Dominion] Trail and it has an adjacent bus service to the library,” Ashton said.
Ashton noted that this option was less costly and provided services without the need for other resources.
But Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila said he thought the council was seeking more permanent offices for DMV, possibly on town-owned property.
“That was my understanding of what was requested,” del Aguila said.
Ashton said he thought the council was seeking a more short-term alternative and would look into the matter.
Councilmember Signe Friedrichs encouraged her colleagues to ensure that prioritized initiatives discussed during council meetings were clear and did not leave room for interpretation by staff.
“We need to be a lot more specific on these things…Do we really want to do this?” she said.
The discussion on the issue is preliminary — a feature that Councilmember Sean Regan emphasized is a part of the “iterative” process the town must pursue before long-term planning.
He noted that key information — including whether there is an unmet need and the DMV’s input on the issue — are needed before the possibility of a vote is considered.
Councilmember Pradip Dhakal encouraged town staff to explore the issue further.
“If we have something consistent and predictable, people will know and start following,” Dhakal said.
Herndon will have to wait a little longer to see whether the local Residence Inn will be redeveloped into residential units.
At a Herndon Town Council meeting on Tuesday (May 24), the council deferred a decision on the project, which converts the aging facility into a 170-unit project with at least half of the units set aside as workforce housing.
The applicant’s representative, Ken Wire, said the deferral was necessary because the applicant was not able to sufficiently gather formal feedback from neighboring residents and stakeholders. Wire said some notices about the project were not sent out in time.
The issue was caused by a planning fluke, Wire told the council.
The council has been working with the applicant to sort through a number of details, including beefed-up proffers, for the project. The plan includes 72 new bicycle spaces, a new cycle station facility, and improvements like ADA-friendly crosswalks and $10,000 for bus stop improvements.
Wire said the applicant first came to the Town of Herndon with this project in 2019 to redevelop an asset that was built 32 years ago and “doesn’t fit its purpose.”
“The good news about this sister is that it does lay out quite well for housing units,” Wire said.
Roughly half of the units will be available to residents who earn up to 80% of the median area income.
Developer Comstock Companies is working with the town to transform 4.7 acres of land into a mixed-use town center with 273 residential apartments, 17,000 square feet of retail space, an arts center and a 726-space parking garage.
Comstock has submitted a new schedule for the project, which was expected to break ground this spring after being pushed further out from last year.
At a Herndon Town Council meeting on Tuesday (May 10), town manager Bill Ashton II said attorneys for Comstock and the town are negotiating the schedule and financing package.
“They are on the cusp of going to lending but there are some things they need to iron out before they can get there,” Ashton II said at the meeting.
The town is actively working on this issues, which were not publicly discussed. Comstock has also required some changes to a building permit based on site plan revisions that will be submitted to the town.
Comstock told FFXnow in a statement that no updates were available to share.
Ashton provided the update at a meeting following questions from Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila.
“There’s a lot of rumor mill and conspiracies out there,” del Aguila said.
The cost of the $101 million project increased by $25 million due to issues related to materials, labor, and workforce restrictions caused by the pandemic.
When asked about the project, a spokesperson for the town deferred to the discussion at the meeting.