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Mount Vernon Woods Park sign (via Fairfax County Parks Authority)

Mount Vernon Woods Park is set to add a playground, picnic shelter, multisport court, a field, and a skate park.

Design work is underway on the county-owned, 7-acre park on the southeast side of Huntley Meadows Park in Hybla Valley. The proposed improvements are based on the park’s 2015 master plan, which calls for a number of additions including a playground, a half-court, a skate park, on-site parking, a pavilion, and an open playing field.

The project is set to cost $2.5 million, which will come from the 2020 park bond, Fairfax County Parks Authority (FCPA) spokesperson Judith Pedersen told FFXnow in an email.

More detailed designs will be presented at a public meeting set for Sept. 8 at Mount Vernon Elementary School just south of the park.

The community will have a chance to comment on the designs both at the meeting and via email until Oct. 10.

The master plan was developed seven years ago to upgrade the 1960s-era park. The goal was to build “new, active facilities to be located in the park closer to Fielding Street to help create a more active and family-friendly park.”

A “neighborhood-scale skate park” is proposed in the southeast corner of the park with features for “both experienced and less-experienced users,” per the plan. This would be only the third county-maintained skate park.

Also proposed is a multi-use half court that could be used for activities like “basketball practice, one-on-one games, four square, hopscotch, or as an area for young children to practice riding a scooter or bike.” A fitness cluster, interpretive signs, and an open playing field are also part of the 2015 plan.

The master plan notes the need to upgrade access to the park as well, which currently doesn’t have easy pedestrian access, on-site parking, and out-of-date facilities.

FCPA has hired the engineering consulting firm Kimley-Horn, which has experience in the county, to assist with the development of the plans.

The designs that will be proposed next month to the public “generally follow” the approved 2015 Master Plan and any differences are “very minor,” Pedersen said.

A construction timeline and schedule will also be presented at the meeting in September.

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A new playground will be ready to go in December (via FCPA)

A new playground is on the horizon for Horsepen Run Stream Valley Park in Herndon. 

The Fairfax County Park Authority is expected to begin construction to replace the aging equipment. Demolition of the existing playground will begin the week of Sept. 19, according to FCPA. 

The new playground should be completed by the end of November and be ready for use this December.

The equipment — which is faded and rusting in many areas — has only seen minor repairs and upgrades since it was originally installed in the 1990s.

“The equipment has now exceeded its life expectancy and no longer meets currently safety guidelines,” the park authority said. 

The project is expected to cost $180,000, an estimate that includes the design, layout, drainage and demolition of the existing playground.

The project will also improve an accessible route from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation trail to the playground. 

While construction takes place, access will be available from Ashdown Forest Drive. Residents should expect construction traffic entering and exiting the park entrance to that location. 

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The dual W&OD Trail in Falls Church (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Within the next decade, Fairfax County could see pedestrians and bicyclists split up along its stretch of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, among other potential changes at its regional parks.

In a new, five-year strategic plan released last Tuesday (Aug. 9), the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority (NOVA Parks) proposes expanding the “dual trail” design introduced last year in Falls Church to other segments of the 45-mile, cross-county park.

The agency is targeting more urban areas — specifically Vienna, Herndon and Reston, and Arlington — for the expansion, which would turn the one-track W&OD Trail into two separate paths for cyclists and users on foot.

“This kind of improvement expands the capacity of the trail so that cyclists and walkers can have a safer and more enjoyable experience,” NOVA Parks communications director Kelly Gilfillen said by email.

According to the 2023-2027 strategic plan, which lays out its near-future vision and priorities for the 12,000-plus acres of parkland it oversees, NOVA Parks will partner with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to design and implement the dual trails.

While the plan calls for developing plans for Arlington County Dual Trails by 2024, it sets a goal of 2027 for designing the Vienna and Reston/Herndon sections.

“Most of Vienna, Reston, and Herndon are urban, so most of that area would probably be considered,” Gilfillen said. “We do not yet have those details planned. That will be part of our work over the next few years.”

The Fairfax County area is also home to four out of the five parks that the plan highlights for “signature” projects:

  • W&OD Trail Visitor Center: likely in Loudoun County, per ARLnow
  • Gateway Wetlands Park
  • Pohick Bay expanded camping and associated amenities
  • Occoquan indoor/outdoor Adventure Center
  • Hemlock Facility Update

NOVA Parks hopes to work with Fairfax City to restore the wetlands at Gateway Regional Park, a 1-acre rest stop at the corner of Pickett and Old Pickett roads, by 2024.

“This would be like a very small version of Huntley Meadows Park,” Gilfillen said. “NOVA Parks would restore the wetlands that were once a part of this park, which is adjacent to Accotink Creek. A raised boardwalk would feature interpretive displays for environmental education.” Read More

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Morning Notes

Lewinsville Park basketball courts in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

McLean Police Shooting Not Justified, Family Says — The parents of Jasper Aaron Lynch, who was fatally shot four times by a Fairfax County police officer during a mental health crisis call on July 7, said in a statement that the police “could have, and should have, handled this far differently.” Their comments came after the county police department released footage of the encounter. [WTOP]

Bailey’s Crossroads Car Dealership to Expand — “The Radley Acura dealership on Columbia Pike near Route 7 in Bailey’s Crossroads will undergo a major expansion. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning application Aug. 2 by Radley Management LLC to build a three-level parking garage with 307 spaces and an enclosed customer service drop-off addition.” [Annandale Today]

New Metro Safety Issues Raised — “Metro needs to inspect, clean, and protect Metrorail station rooms that house equipment that detects when trains are on tracks and helps the system avoid crashes, the agency’s safety oversight body said in a report released Thursday. The report further said that Metro had failed to follow through on inspections after the issue was raised in March.” [DCist]

County Pension Fund Doubles Down on Crypto — “Fairfax County, Va.’s $6.8 billion pension fund, the Fairfax County Retirement Systems, has received approval to invest $70 million across two crypto yield farming funds…The $1.8 billion Fairfax County Police Officers Retirement System has made a series of crypto investments in the past alongside the Fairfax County Retirement Systems” [CoinDesk]

Funds for Water to Historic Hall Approved — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board approved a Mastenbrook Grant request from the Great Falls Grange Foundation (GFGF) in the amount of $20,000 to help install a municipal-connected water line to service the Great Falls Grange…The overall vision for this site is to serve the community as a self-supporting gathering place, a location for classes and a place to hold special events.” [FCPA]

Decision on Maryland’s Beltway Toll Lanes Coming — “With the U.S. Department of Transportation poised to issue its decision on an ambitious Capital Beltway and I-270 toll lanes plan, Montgomery County’s top planner accused state highway officials of running roughshod over Maryland law,” echoing similar complaints leveled by McLean residents over Virginia’s 495 NEXT project. [Maryland Matters]

Poll: What Does “Alexandria” Mean to You? — “One of the very first stories on ALXnow discussed…the distinction between the City of Alexandria and the areas of Fairfax south of Cameron Run sometimes referred to as Alexandria. This past week, two businesses opening this month — a cannabis dispensary and a metal supermarket — identified themselves as ‘Alexandria’ branches of their respective chains despite the fact that both are opening in Fairfax.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:15 am and sunset at 8:17 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

I-66 construction in the Oakton area (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Two Face Drug Charges After Seven Corners Police Shooting — “Two men have been charged after an officer-involved shooting that occurred last night at approximately 10:45 p.m. in the 6100 block of Arlington Boulevard in Seven Corners…The officer involved in the shooting has been identified as an 11-year veteran assigned to the Street Crimes Unit.” [FCPD]

Local LGBTQ+ Student Group Speaks Out — Fairfax County’s Pride Liberation Project released a statement backed by more than 600 students criticizing a proposal from the state Department of Education that they fear will classify any references to LGBTQIA+ people and events as sexually explicit. The guidelines address a new law that requires parents to be notified when school materials include sexually explicit content. [The Washington Post]

Meet Reston Association’s New CEO — “On Thursday, July 28, the Reston Association board of directors voted unanimously to confirm Mac Cummins, AICP* as the next chief executive officer of the non-profit organization…Cummins sat for a Q&A with the Connection Newspapers on Friday, July 29.” [Connection Newspapers]

Police Chief Addresses Staffing Emergency — The Fairfax County Police Department declared a personnel emergency last week, requiring officers to work mandatory overtime to compensate for staff shortages. Chief Kevin Davis says the department’s 189 operational vacancies are exceptionally high, though 51 recruits currently in the academy will eventually join the force. [ABC7]

Back in Nature, Snake Found in Fairfax Is Healing — “K2C Wildlife Encounters, LLC, received a call on June 5 from a Fairfax resident who had a snake in their backyard that they wanted removed…The female, eastern ratsnake had a torn jugular vein, a hole in her trachea, a protruding eye, numerous lacerations, and broken ribs.” [Patch]

New FCPS Teachers Prepare for School Year — “Minutello and Edinborough are among the newest teachers in Virginia’s largest school system, and are starting at a time when staffing challenges are making headlines. The county had hundreds of vacancies at the end of the last school year, but 97% of staffing positions have been filled as of last week, Superintendent Michelle Reid said.” [WTOP]

Centreville’s Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Lot to Temporarily Close — “The parking lot and entrance for Cabell’s Mill will be closed from Aug. 8 through Oct. 7, 2022, for construction. Work related to the new Stewardship Education Center will include a larger parking lot that will include features and a design that will better control and filter water from rain and runoff from the adjacent neighborhood.” [FCPA]

State Sales Tax Holiday Starts Tomorrow — “The 3-day sales tax holiday starts the first Friday in August at 12:01 am and ends the following Sunday at 11:59 pm…During the sales tax holiday, you can buy qualifying school supplies, clothing, footwear, hurricane and emergency preparedness items, and Energy Star™ and WaterSense™ products without paying sales tax.” [Virginia Department of Taxation]

It’s Thursday — Humid throughout the day. High of 95 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:14 am and sunset at 8:18 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated at 3:55 p.m. on 8/4/2022) A developer that specializes in “live/work lofts” has set its sights on a pair of Merrifield office buildings being vacated by Inova Health System.

The buildings at 8110 Gatehouse Road and 2990 Telestar Road will be renovated and repurposed, respectively, as live-work units and workforce housing under a rezoning proposal that Fairfax County received from Madison Highland Live Work Loft Services LLC on July 25.

Madison Highland consists of the developers Madison Marquette and Highland Square Holdings. Formed in April to build more live-work communities in the U.S., it is also behind a live-work development proposed for the Skyline Center in Bailey’s Crossroads.

Inova had been using the Gatehouse and Telestar buildings as its corporate headquarters for the past 12 years, but the nonprofit is consolidating those operations on its main campus to the south, according to a July 22 statement of justification.

“This creates a unique opportunity to repurpose the newly vacant buildings…while furthering a number of important County policies,” McGuireWoods attorney Mike Van Atta wrote, citing the county’s goals to expand the availability of workforce housing and park space.

Inova confirmed that its Gatehouse and Telestar offices will be relocated to the Inova Center for Personalized Health (8100 Innovation Park Drive) this fall.

Fairfax County introduced live-work development as a new residential use with the revised zoning code adopted in 2021, defining it as:

A structure or part of a structure with areas specifically designed for occupancy by a single owner, tenant, or user to accommodate a residential dwelling unit and a flexible work space. This use does not include a home-based business that would be permitted in a single-family detached dwelling.

In its application, Madison Highland proposes turning the Gatehouse building into 210 live-work units that could range in size from 600 to 1,300 square feet. The individual units could be used as housing, offices, joint residential/office space “or any combination of those uses.”

The Telestar building, which was built in 1969, is being planned for up to 82 workforce dwelling units that will have one or two bedrooms. All units will be reserved for residents who earn 60% of the area median income or below.

Both buildings will be fully renovated, but their core structures “will be preserved to the extent possible,” the statement of justification says. The heights — six stories for the Gatehouse building and four for the Telestar building — will remain the same. Read More

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While the long-term vision for McLean Central Park continues to take shape, community members can expect to see a more immediate change later this month.

Work will begin in mid-August to replace an aging, wooden bridge in the park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd) with a fiberglass bridge that will last longer and require less maintenance, the Fairfax County Park Authority announced last week.

The agency has enlisted contractor AP Construction LLC for the project, which carries a price tag of approximately $116,200.

Since fiberglass doesn’t corrode like wood, manufacturers typically anticipate a 50-year lifespan for fiberglass bridges compared to 20 years for wood structures, according to FCPA Trails Program Manager Tom McFarland.

“Further, fiberglass trail bridges are lighter and easier to assemble than traditional bridges built from wood or steel,” McFarland told FFXnow by email. “The parts can be hand carried to the site and assembled using common hand tools. These bridges are also stronger than the typical wood structure.”

McFarland says the park authority typically uses bridges supplied by the Pennsylvania-based manufacturer Creative Pultrusions that can hold the weight of a 10,000-pound piece of equipment if needed.

“All of these factors make the fiberglass bridge a much more desirable and economical choice,” he said.

The McLean Central Park bridge replacement is projected to finish in late September, depending on the weather, according to the park authority.

During the project, portions of the park’s trail will be closed “as a safety precaution.” The park authority warns residents to expect “occasional traffic” at Martha Jane Street, which will be used as an access point for construction materials and equipment.

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Morning Notes

Why did the geese cross the park trail? (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Person Hospitalized After Vienna Shooting — “Officers are in the 8400 blk of Wesleyan St in Vienna for a shooting. Prelim info, a man shot a roommate inside the home. Victim taken to hospital w/non-life-threatening inj. Suspect is in custody.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Report: Police Declare Personnel Emergency — “Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis and senior staff declared a personnel emergency Thursday, according to a police source, which means mandatory overtime for police officers as FCPD grapples with an ongoing police officer shortage.” [ABC7]

Affordable Housing Projects Get State Funds — Virginia has awarded more than $27 million in state loans for affordable and special needs housing projects, including two in Fairfax County, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office announced last week. The county’s recipients were the Autumn Willow project near Centreville and the One University project by George Mason University’s Fairfax campus. [Patch]

Argument Leads to Stabbing in Centreville — A 32-year-old woman from Falls Church stabbed another woman in the 5700 block of Ottawa Road last Tuesday (July 26) after they got into a dispute, Fairfax County police say. The woman was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. The victim received treatment for injuries not considered life threatening. [FCPD]

Herndon Education Company Plans Reston Move — “Stride Inc. will start the school year in drastically smaller space in a new building. The Herndon educational-technology company is slashing its local office space by more than 80% — moving out of approximately 129,000 feet of office space in Herndon and into 22,000 square feet in a new office it will officially open this fall in Reston’s Plaza America.” [Washington Business Journal]

Instagram Account Shows Maintenance Issues at McLean HS — “The bio for the account @mclean.rot on Instagram reads, ‘The best single word to define this school is ‘gross.” With 71 posts, the anonymous student owner of @mclean.rot has been posting an unvarnished look at McLean High School since February, detailing for all a need for serious maintenance.” [Fairfax County Times]

Chantilly Park Gets Grant to Monitor Water — “Fairfax Water recently awarded Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Friends a Water Supply and Protection Grant in the amount of $1,437 in support of ECLP’s water quality monitoring program…This grant will provide funding for on-site water quality monitoring to address potential pollution threats from nearby construction projects.” [FCPA]

Kings Park Neighborhood Gets Spotlight — “Aside from the people and neighborhood celebrations, the amenities and surrounding businesses have also compelled residents to stay in the area. Charlotte Hannagan, a resident since 2014 and Kings Park Civic Association vice president of social outreach, noted that there’s so much within walking distance of the neighborhood.” [The Washington Post]

It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 84 and low of 71. Sunrise at 6:11 am and sunset at 8:22 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A family hits the mini golf course at Jefferson District Park in Idylwood (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Metro Promises Relief for Train Riders Next Month — Starting Monday (Aug. 1), the addition of more rail cars will speed up service on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines to every 15 minutes on weekdays instead of the current wait times, which can reach up to 20 minutes. Metro says it anticipates expanding those service adjustments to weekends in September. [WMATA]

Man to Plead Guilty to Herndon Murder — A Virginia man told a Fairfax County judge he wants to plead guilty to the 1987 killing of 37-year-old Eige Sober-Adler in Herndon after being indicted in the case in January. Charles Helem is already serving life in prison for strangling and killing his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Bentley, in Chantilly in 2002. [WTOP]

Reston Residents Frustrated by Car Burglaries — “Some angry Reston residents are complaining that the police are doing too little to stop a persistent car burglar repeatedly targeting their community…Neighbors say the same burglar has returned to the West Market neighborhood near Reston Town Center at least four times over the course of the year” [WUSA9]

New Sidewalks in Lincolnia Near Finish — “Work is wrapping up on #Lincolnia Road Sidewalk and Spot Improvement Project! This #FairfaxCounty Transportation project consists of 1,000 LF of sidewalk to connect pedestrian facilities along North Chambliss Street and Lincolnia Road from the Lincolnia Senior Center to Linmar Court” [Supervisor Penny Gross/Twitter]

Pittsburgh Bank Coming to Reston — “First National Bank is expanding in Northern Virginia. F.N.B. Corp. (NYSE: FNB) said Wednesday it has filed applications with the Order of the Comptroller of the Currency to open new branches in Reston and Arlington. The bank currently operates seven First National Bank offices in Northern Virginia and the District and said it expects to grow that total to 11 by 2024.” [Washington Business Journal]

Maintenance Set for Planned Tysons Trail — “Fairfax County supervisors on July 19 authorized the county’s transportation director, Thomas Biesiadny, to execute a perpetual agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for joint operation and maintenance of a new shared-use path in Tysons.” [Sun Gazette]

Idylwood Office Buildings Sold — “Dave Schaeffer, CEO of Cogent Communications, has acquired 7799 Leesburg Pike, a pair of 11-story office towers totaling 377,717 square feet in Tysons, Va. The sale price was $49 million, according to someone close to the deal…At the time of the sale, the buildings were 36 percent leased to seven tenants, including Tyson MRI and Imaging Center and the University of the Potomac Virginia Campus.” [Commercial Observer]

Reston Offers “Superhero” Triathlon for Kids — Coming this Sunday (July 31), the CORE Foundation will host its first-ever Reston Superhero Youth Triathlon at Ridge Heights Pool. Over 100 people have registered for the competition, which will feature running, swimming, and bicycling and have categories for para and adaptive athletes. [CORE Foundation]

Vienna Parks and Rec Registration Coming — “Get ready, get set for fall fun with Vienna Parks and Recreation! Explore the program guide and sign up for classes, camps and more adventures for the whole family! Registration for Town residents opens at 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 1. Registration for all others opens Monday, Aug. 8.” [Town of Vienna]

It’s Friday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 82 and low of 74. Sunrise at 6:09 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A popsicle melts at Capital One Center’s The Perch in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Dog Dies in Newington Townhouse Fire — Unattended cooking started a fire at a townhouse in the 6700 block of Red Bird Woods Court last Friday (July 15) that displaced one resident and caused approximately $93,750 in damages. County firefighters found a dog while searching the property that was given medical care but didn’t survive. [FCFRD]

Fairfax Nonprofit Helps Rescued Beagles — The Fairfax-based animal rescue group Homeward Trails is one of several shelters across the country helping the Humane Society find homes for beagles rescued from a Cumberland breeding facility. The nonprofit will place 1,500 of the dogs and has already received almost 1,000 adoption applications. [Washingtonian]

New Mental Health Crisis Hotline Available — “A new 9-8-8 crisis and support hotline is now active across the United States, including here in Fairfax County…Dialing either 9-8-8 or the existing [National Suicide Prevention Lifeline] number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), will connect you to behavioral health care and support 24 hours a day.” [Fairfax County Government]

GW Parkway Rehab Could Bring Traffic Cameras — “WTOP has learned that an upcoming major rehabilitation of the George Washington Parkway’s northern section will lay the groundwork — literally — for live traffic cameras along a 7-mile stretch of the roadway running from the Capital Beltway to Spout Run. Ground was broken for the project on Monday.” [WTOP]

McLean Baseball Player Drafted by New York Mets — “Add one more significant achievement, and likely the best of all, in a season full of big accomplishments and recognitions for Nick Morabito. The McLean resident and 2022 graduate of Gonzaga College High School recently was chosen in the second round (75th pick overall) of the Major League Baseball draft by the New York Mets.” [Sun Gazette]

Great Falls Bank to Expand — “Three-year-old Trustar Bank in Great Falls has raised $18 million in fresh capital and intends to use the proceeds to help fund its expansion across the D.C. region. The private placement…could be a prelude to an eventual initial public offering for the $560 million-asset Trustar.” [Washington Business Journal]

Annandale Park Field Named After Advocate — “In action at their regular meeting on July 13, 2022, the Fairfax County Park Authority Board voted to name rectangular field 6 at Pine Ridge Park in honor of Wanda Rixon at the request of the Fairfax Women’s Soccer Association (FWSA)…FWSA and Rixon played an instrumental role in the effort to retain Pine Ridge Park as permanent park land.” [FCPA]

DMV Stops by Tysons Library Tomorrow — “Looking to renew your license, get the real ID and more? The DMV is visiting the Tysons-Pimmit Library. Registration is required and an appointment can be made here. Please note the DMV takes a lunch break from 12:30pm-1:30pm.” [FCPL]

It’s Thursday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 89 and low of 78. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]

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