Post Content

Morning Notes

A woodpecker perches on a tree branch (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPS Proposes Limiting Phone and Social Media Use — “Proposed updates to school policies in Fairfax County Public Schools would ban students from using social media sites for non-academic purposes during school hours and define when cellphones can be used during the school day.” The phone policy has already been implemented at Herndon middle and high schools. [WTOP]

Falls Church Development Under Construction — Developer Insight Property Group will break ground today (Friday) on its 2.7-acre Broad and Washington project, which has been in the works since 2015. The mixed-use development will eventually include a 50,000-square-foot Whole Foods, 339 residential units, space for the theater nonprofit Creative Cauldron, a public plaza, and ground-floor retail. [Falls Church News-Press]

Police Officer Saves Glued Snake — “This little snake is alive and free tonight thanks to @FairfaxCountyPD’s Animal Protection Police Officer McLemore! The snake was caught in a glue trap, and it took time, care, and mineral oil to free him. Thank you for rescuing this little guy!” [Fairfax Animals/Twitter]

Metro Police to Increase Presence — “The Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) says they are increasing their visibility on trains, buses, and in stations to help deter crime…Crime has not spiked on Metro recently, but it certainly has not dropped at the same proportion that ridership has.” [DCist]

Vienna Plants Tree for Arbor Day — “Help Vienna celebrate the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day by planting a tree with us tomorrow, Friday, April 29! We’ll plant a white Dogwood with the help of local Girl Scout Troops 1489, 50056, and 50157. The event starts at 5 p.m. next to the Vienna Community Center front entrance.” [Vienna Happenings]

Meeting Planned on Mount Vernon RECenter Project — The Fairfax County Park Authority will update the public at a meeting on Wednesday (May 4) on its expansion plan, which will require a two-year closure starting early 2023. Staff will explain the project schedule, including the timing of the recently approved facility closure due to supply chain issues and key infrastructure system failures. [FCPA]

Tornados Becoming More of a Risk in D.C. Area — “While it has been 20 years since the La Plata disaster, its occurrence is a reminder that the D.C. region is vulnerable to devastating whirlwinds on par with those of famed tornado alleys in the Great Plains and Deep South. The D.C. region also sees much more frequent tornadoes of lesser strength.” [The Washington Post]

Consulting Firm Workers Help Clean Reston — “As part of Earth Day last week, employees from Virtual, Inc. picked up trash and helped to beautify the area surrounding their offices at 11130 Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston…Virtual is a professional services firm that works with associations and technology standards groups that are forming, growing and changing, according [to CEO Andy] Freed.” [Patch]

Registration Open for Hunter Mill Bicycle Tour — “Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting the 2nd annual Tour de Hunter Mill on Saturday, May 14, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event, including a five-mile family route and a 18-mile route, begins in the Town of Vienna at the Town Green, located at 144 Maple Ave. East.” [Hunter Mill District Office]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 62 and low of 38. Sunrise at 6:14 am and sunset at 8:01 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments
Rendering shows an expansion and a renovation for the Mount Vernon RECenter (via Fairfax County)

The Fairfax County Park Authority will temporarily shutter the aging Mount Vernon RECenter for two years, starting in early 2023,.

The park authority board approved on the move on Wednesday (March 23). The closing will fast track a project to expand and renovate the facility, creating a bigger fitness center and adding a second ice rink.

Failing systems meant the facility needed rental equipment to keep its ice rink operational, which officials say could be costly.

The project was slated to cost $63.2 million to $67.2 million after the park authority received higher-than-expected bids from contractors, putting it $22.5 million to $26.5 million over budget. The FCPA plans to rebid the project this year.

“Due to pandemic-caused supply chain problems and impacts to the construction industry, the lowest apparent bidder submitted a bid price that was $18.2 million higher than the engineers’ estimate,” staff said a planning and development committee meeting report. “The low bid for the entire project was $50.2 million.”

Linwood Gorham, the FCPA Board’s Mount Vernon District representative, said the local hockey community has been understanding and professional about the impending shutdown.

“They’re optimistic because they think they will have two sheets of ice sooner rather than the original plan,” he said.

The Mount Vernon Senior Men hockey club has the ice from 7:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. on Sundays, but the group’s organizer, John Kashishian, says his players haven’t discussed alternatives yet.

He told FFXnow that, while the facility is in need of repairs — locker rooms, for example, can flood when it rains — the ice is excellent, and the time is perfect for his players.

“We’ve been around since the early 1970s,” said Del Daigle with the Potomac Senior Men, which plays on Thursdays from 7:15 -8:45 p.m. “We’ve weathered Covid. We’ll weather this.”

The park authority had allocated $40.7 million for the Mount Vernon RECenter upgrades, originally planning to keep it open during construction. But a failed chiller and other complications led staff to reassess their options and recommend the two-year closure.

FCPA Deputy Director Sara Baldwin said money will be redirected from other projects for the renovation, including $16 million from the Audrey Moore RECenter in Annandale. Discussions for an upgrade of that facility, the county’s oldest, are still ongoing.

Those reallocations would have no impact on the schedule to deliver the projects, according to the park authority.

0 Comments
Rendering shows an expansion and a renovation for the Mount Vernon RECenter (via Fairfax County)

The Mount Vernon RECenter could shutter for two years as part of a multi-phase expansion and renovation worth tens of millions of dollars.

The Fairfax County Park Authority is expected to vote Wednesday (March 23) on a staff proposal that recommended the temporary closing. If approved, the facility would close starting in early 2023, the authority told FFXnow.

Constructed in 1979, the facility’s infrastructure is faltering, but an expansion and renovation could cost over 55% more than planned, with the total project poised to cost $63.2 million to $67.2 million.

“We are very concerned with the systems failing and us having to have an emergency shutdown,” Fairfax County Park Authority Deputy Director Sara Baldwin said.

Some $4.7 million of $40.7 million allocated for the upgrades has already been spent.

The facility currently features a pool, fitness center, and year-round ice rink, popular with youth and adult hockey players. The expansion proposes expanding a fitness area and adding a second sheet of ice designed to NHL standards.

FCPA staff have considered “phased” closures that could last three years or more, among other options, but that could result in millions of dollars in lost revenue each year.

If the center is fully closed in the interim, which could shorten the length of construction, the park authority expects to expand hours at the George Washington RECenter about four miles to the south.

Concerns over repairs, funding voiced

According to a staff presentation during the park authority board’s March 9 meeting, the aging Mount Vernon RECenter, located at 2017 Belle View Boulevard, currently requires frequent repairs and about $4.9 million in critical maintenance needs.

Problems range from a failing roof to a rink dehumidification system that recently crashed as well as a chiller that broke last summer. A rental chiller is currently on a flatbed trailer outside and could cost the authority $200,000 per year.

Linwood Gorham, the board’s Mount Vernon District representative, said the issues facing the rec center signal a long downward spiral for the authority’s finances.

“We need more funding for parks,” he said. “We’re in desperate times moneywise.” Read More

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list