As Fairfax County explores ways to improve the flow of traffic on Dolley Madison Blvd., the McLean Citizens Association sees an opportunity to also address safety issues at the Ingleside Avenue intersection.
The residents’ group urged the Fairfax County Department of Transportation last week to consider installing a traffic signal there or at the adjacent Elm Street intersection as part of the county’s ongoing Dolley Madison Corridor Study.
“Installation of a traffic signal at either location would heighten safety for pedestrians and bicyclists,” MCA President Scott Spitzer wrote in a letter approved by the board of directors on Wednesday (July 6). “A signal at the Dolley Madison/Ingleside intersection would also address concerns raised by residents who are unable to turn left from Dolley Madison Boulevard onto Ingleside Avenue during rush hour traffic.”
Though they’re the size of neighborhood streets, Ingleside and Elm connect downtown McLean to the residences north of Dolley Madison (also known as Route 123) as well as the Dolley Madison Library, McLean Central Park, and McLean Community Center.
Traffic backups on Route 123 routinely block Ingleside in particular, making it “almost impossible” for drivers to turn into or out of the street, one MCA board member said during last week’s meeting.
“I certainly have had experience trying to take a left on Ingleside and having to wait minutes because nobody will let you in,” Glenn Harris, who chairs MCA’s transportation committee, said.
If a traffic light isn’t possible, given the proximity of Old Dominion Drive, MCA says it would support a flashing pedestrian beacon and “enhanced crosswalks” at either the Ingleside or Elm intersection.
There are currently striped crosswalks across Dolley Madison on the east sides of both intersections, but Elm Street has no sidewalks, and Ingleside only has a sidewalk on the west side.
For drivers on Ingleside, even a right turn onto Dolley Madison can be tricky, thanks to trees that block their sightlines, an MCA board member noted.
The McLean Community Center wants to update its policies, and its counterpart in Reston has emerged as a possible model.
The MCC governing board has started exploring a possible revision of the memorandum of understanding that dictates its relationship with the Fairfax County government.
Many of the changes floated at the board’s March 23 meeting are straightforward tweaks, such as using gender-neutral pronouns, allowing more flexibility for virtual meetings, and updating the name of the tax district that funds the community center from “Small District 1” to “Small District 1A.”
However, suggestions that MCC replace its board elections with a preference poll — the process used by Reston Community Center — and review its public comments protocols are more concerning, McLean Citizens Association President Scott Spitzer says.
The association argued in a letter signed by Spitzer and approved by its governance committee that MCC would risk ceding authority to the county by revising the MOU, which delineates the governing board’s responsibilities for handling programming, finances, capital projects, public meetings and other duties.
“The MOU works. They ought not to open up a discussion with the [Fairfax County] Board of Supervisors to revise it at this time,” Spitzer told FFXnow last week, proposing that the community center instead make any necessary updates through its internal policies.
The MCC board raised the idea of revisiting the MOU in September but didn’t vote to look at it until Feb. 23. Aside from an addendum made in 2007, the agreement hasn’t changed since it was originally signed in 1984, according to Board Chair Barbara Zamora-Appel.
Board members Shivani Saboo, who serves as treasurer, and Suzanne LeMenestrel volunteered to lead the review.
Zamora-Appel did not return a request for comment from FFXnow, but according to a statement shared by MCC, she emphasized at the beginning of the March 23 meeting that the proposed draft was based on individual board members’ suggestions, not from the board as a whole.
“We are very early in any discussion of potential changes, and we will not move forward any proposed changes unless and until we have had sufficient input, discussion, Board decisions, pros and cons, and discussions with Fairfax County officials,” Zamora-Appel said. Read More
Fairfax Station Doctor Sentenced for Fraud — Physician Leonard Rosen was sentenced on Friday (March 18) to two years of probation, with six months of at-home confinement for his involvement in an $8 million fraud scheme where doctors prescribed expensive drugs to patients in exchange for bribes from pharmacists. [The Washington Post]
Connolly Announces Reelection Bid — “On Thursday, March 17, during his 28th annual St. Patrick’s Day Fete, held online, [Rep. Gerry] Connolly announced he would seek reelection to represent Virginia’s 11th Congressional District…The newly-drawn 11th District lies within the boundaries of Fairfax County…and includes Tysons, Fairfax City, Chantilly, and Reston.” [Potomac Local News]
Georgetown Pike Lane Closure Starts Today — “Great Falls: On Mon 3/21-Fri 3/25 for several hours beginning at 9AM daily, Georgetown Pike (Rt 193) will be down to one lane on the Difficult Run bridge for ongoing pedestrian crossing work. Crews will continue to stage in the @fairfaxparks lot.” [VDOT Northern Virginia/Twitter]
McLean Neighborhood Installs License Plate Readers — “Due to the fact that some high-profile people live in the area, FOX 5 is not disclosing the location to respect their privacy. Residents like Phil Horvitz, who is also an HOA board member, have been rattled after seeing an increase in crime, so they installed three high-tech license plate reader cameras.” [FOX5]
Person Assaulted with Pipe in Lincolnia — A person waiting for a rideshare vehicle in the 6200 block of Little River Turnpike on March 14 was assaulted with a metal pipe by a man who got out of an unknown vehicle. The victim was transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and police say it doesn’t appear to have been a random act. [FCPD]
Fairfax County Firefighter Develops Behavioral Health Program — “A daily routine immersed in life-or-death situations can take a mental toll on first responders, and ‘The Mental Mayday’ program teaches members of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia how to ask for help. It was developed by 10-year veteran of the department Lt. Adam Bartman.” [WTOP]
Fairfax Station Park to Get New Playground — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will soon begin the Popes Head Park playground replacement project, which will require closure of the playground during the construction period. Contractors will be mobilizing on site shortly, with active construction activities beginning at the end of March 2022.” [FCPA]
McLean Citizens Association Changes Presidents — “Scott Spitzer, who has served as MCA First Vice President, was elected President to replace Rob Jackson. He said, ‘Rob Jackson’s deep knowledge of community issues, his wisdom and guidance, and his repeatedly answering the call to serve MCA and our community will be missed by all of us. We thank him for his exceptional public service.'” [MCA]
It’s Monday — Clear throughout the day. High of 65 and low of 40. Sunrise at 7:12 am and sunset at 7:23 pm. [Weather.gov]
Fairfax County Public Schools is moving forward with plans to convert the Dunn Loring Administration Center into an elementary school, despite questions from some school board and community members about the project’s urgency.
The Fairfax County School Board voted 10-0 with two abstentions on March 10 to let staff re-negotiate an existing architecture and engineering contract with the firm Samaha Associates, initiating a planning process that typically takes about two years, according to FCPS Executive Director for Facilities and Transportation Services Jessica Gillis.
The vote also authorized staff to use $2 million from a 2019 schools bond that had been designated for an Oakton-area elementary school until the community objected to the use of Blake Lane Park as a site.
Led by Providence District Representative Karl Frisch, the school board agreed in January 2021 to reallocate the $36.8 million for that project to repurpose the Dunn Loring Center, which currently hosts special education services and programs for parents.
While Dunn Loring Elementary School will serve a different area than the Blake Lane site would have, FCPS staff say it will provide needed capacity relief as the system braces for an expected influx of students from new development in Tysons and Merrifield.
“This is the long game for us, to ensure that we have enough space within this region as we anticipate enrollment growth in this particular Tysons area,” FCPS Chief Operating Officer Marty Smith said.
Though the school board supported the repurposing again on Feb. 10 by including it in a new capital improvement program, some members expressed reservations at last week’s meeting after receiving a letter from the McLean Citizens Association that questioned its prioritization over other projects in areas that face more immediate crowding challenges.
Citing enrollment forecasts in the new CIP, the MCA Board of Directors noted that the five elementary schools in the Marshall High School pyramid, where the Dunn Loring school will be located, are all currently between 72 and 99% capacity, and their student populations are projected to decline over the next five years. Read More