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Fairfax Planning Commissioners and Tysons-based developer Cityline Partners are at a stalemate over the inclusion of workforce housing in the newly proposed Arbor Row high-rise.

Last week, commissioners opted to postpone their vote on a proposed 23-story, 270-foot residential tower at Arbor Row, set to house up to 240 units and 8,500 square feet of retail space, after county staff voiced objections about the developer’s refusal to include workforce dwelling units in the new building.

Instead, Cityline Partners has proposed either building workforce housing several miles away or making a one-time cash contribution between $4.17 and $.76 million to the county’s housing trust fund program.

“Overall, the applicant’s proposed fixed cash contribution even with a one time adjustment is not in conformance with the comprehensive plan and does not fully address the affordable housing need generated from this development,” Department of Planning and Development staff member Sunny Yang said during the April 3 Planning Commission public hearing. “So, for all these reasons, the staff is not supportive of this application.”

Initially approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2012, Arbow Row spans 19.4 acres near Tysons Galleria on Westpark Drive. The development originally envisioned 2.6 million square feet of mixed-use development, including residential, retail, hotel, and office space.

Two residential buildings, including the Monarch condominiums and Nouvelle apartments were completed last summer. The Mather, a two-building senior living facility, has finished one of two planned high-rise apartment buildings.

However, the developer decided to scrap the office building, also referred to as “Block C2,” following a decreased demand for office space.

“An office [building] is not gonna happen — we don’t believe — anytime soon,” Lynne Strobel, a land use attorney with the law firm Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, told commissioners during the public hearing last week. “I don’t think any of us believe that. There’s no demand.”

In addition to a new residential high-rise, the developer plans to build several amenities, including a 3-acre park, urban plaza, playground, lawn area, pavilions, and public art, according to the application.

Although commissioners commended the applicant on the design, they concluded more work needed to be done to figure out a solution to the issue of incorporating workforce housing in the project, increasing the cash contribution or moving the proposed offsite housing closer to the Tysons Corner Metro Station.

“The intent of the [workforce dwelling unit] program is to get the units at the same time and to create these mixed-income communities, and that’s that’s the problem,” Hunter Mill District representative John Carter said. “The other issue is to get the units in the same neighborhood close by and when I hear things like five miles away. It’s concerning.”

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Two “Poetry Beneath the Stars” writing workshops are planned at Turner Farm Park for 2024 after a strong turnout for last year’s inaugural event (courtesy of ArtsFairfax)

National Poetry Month has arrived, bringing a new slate of free poetry readings and other events at Fairfax County parks.

For the final year of her tenure, Fairfax County Poet Laureate Danielle Badra has organized a second “Poetry in the Parks” initiative, inviting community members to experience linguistic and natural beauty at the same time.

Announced Monday (April 1) by ArtsFairfax, the series will kick off on April 27 with a “National Poetry Month Reading” at Green Spring Gardens (4603 Green Spring Road) in Lincolnia. D.C. area writers Camisha L. Jones, Emilia Philips, Benjamin Renne and Marcielo Shirley will participate in the reading, which is scheduled for 1-2:30 p.m.

Subsequent months will see the returns of a “Pride Month Poetry Reading” and two “Poetry Beneath the Stars” events, which were both included in last year’s inaugural “Poetry in the Parks” series.

Brought back “by popular demand,” the “Poetry Beneath the Stars” writing workshops will be held on May 4 and Aug. 17 from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at Turner Farm Park (925 Springvale Road) in Great Falls. Attendees will craft verse about the cosmos while viewing it through telescopes in the park’s Roll Top Observatory.

This year’s Pride Month poetry reading will bring Badra, Gowri Koneswaran, Brian Teare and other LGBTQ+ poets together on June 1 from 1-2:30 p.m. to highlight the role of poetry in the queer community. The event has shifted to Green Spring Garden after previously being hosted by Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly.

“Poetry in the Parks brings together nature lovers and poetry lovers in an incredible way,” Badra said in a press release. “Last year, we had professional stargazers with a newfound admiration for poetry, and poets who were first-time visitors to a featured park creating outstanding verses. It was such a beautiful melding of worlds, which is ultimately the goal of each Poetry in the Parks event.”

The three “Poetry in the Parks” events in 2023 were attended by more than 120 people, according to ArtsFairfax, which partnered with Badra and the Fairfax County Park Authority for the program.

As part of the 2024 series, Badra will also unveil new permanent plaques with poems about nature at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park and Riverbend Park in Great Falls.

“As a long-term expression of Poetry in the Parks, the plaques will invite park visitors to reflect on their environment, with the additional opportunity to submit a poetic or artistic response to the plaque through a link on the ArtsFairfax website,” ArtsFairfax says. “Selected submissions will be featured in a digital collection.”

Appointed in November 2022, Badra became Fairfax County’s second poet laureate, following in the footsteps of “How to Prove a Theory” author and Northern Virginia Community College professor Nicole Tong. ArtsFairfax created the two-year position in 2020 as a way to promote poetry in the community.

The search for Badra’s successor will begin when applications open on April 15. ArtsFairfax will hold a virtual information session to discuss the poet laureate program from noon to 1:30 p.m. on April 23.

Repairs are needed to clear pipes that carry wastewater from McLean through Scott’s Run Nature Preserve and across the Potomac River (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 3:30 p.m. on 3/29/2024) Clogged-up pipes will force Scott’s Run Nature Preserve to close for more than a month, starting later this week.

Contractors will begin work on the “emergency project” to clear and repair wastewater pipes in the McLean park this Thursday (March 28), the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services recently announced.

The 385-acre park at 7400 Georgetown Pike will be closed throughout the project’s first phase, which is expected to take about six weeks and will remove an estimated 80 tons of sediment from the pipes, according to DPWES.

Also known as siphons, the pipes carry wastewater from McLean across the Potomac River and into Maryland, connecting to a DC Water interceptor through Carderock National Park.

“During a recent inspection two of the three pipes at the wastewater siphon were found to be non-operational,” DPWES said in a news release. “An emergency repair is necessary, as there is no reasonable bypass alternative if the last pipe fails, which would mean millions of gallons of sewage per day going into the Potomac.”

According to the project page, the park needs to close during the project so construction crews and equipment can access the trails without creating conflicts for visitors or pushing pedestrians off-trail, which would damage the natural environment.

Work will take place Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., depending on the weather. The closure will apply to all trails and the east and west parking lots.

In addition to removing sediment, which will be transported out of Scott’s Run daily by truck, the project will involve replacing valves and cleaning the siphon barrels. The siphon barrel cleaning will be done in Carderock National Park.

The Scott’s Run siphon emergency project area map (via DPWES)

A second phase of work focused on maintenance repairs is expected later, requiring another park closure, but the exact timing will be determined after “additional investigations are made during the cleaning process,” DPWES said.

In total, the work at Scott’s Run is expected to take three months, though the overall project has an anticipated timeline of six to nine months.

DPWES says no other properties should be affected by the project, and traffic into and out of the Scott’s Run parking lot will be “limited” after the contractors arrive Thursday morning.

“Materials and construction equipment for the project will be safely stored onsite,” the project page says. “Additionally, Fairfax County McLean District Police have been notified of the project and will be monitoring traffic patterns in the area to ensure safety of residents and commuters.”

The county says it’s identifying “methods to optimize and enhance its inspection and cleaning procedures to reduce the likelihood” that an emergency response of this level will be needed in the future.

Correction: DPWES says 80 tons of sediment are being removed from the Scott’s Run pipes, not 80,000 tons as first reported.


Fairfax County staff aren’t sold on a development proposal to replace a planned office building in Scotts Run with a dual-branded Hilton hotel.

Developer Cityline Partners is seeking to construct a 17-story hotel building with a four-level parking garage at the intersection of Dolley Madison Blvd and Anderson Road in the Tysons neighborhood.

Totaling 263 units, the hotel will be split between Home2 Suites, which is designed for extended stays, and Canopy by Hilton, a boutique brand that draws “on the spirit and character” of the local area, according to the rezoning application. Hilton partner KM Hotels would manage the facility.

Issues with proposed service entrances for the site and a lack of park space, however, have led county staff to recommend that the Board of Supervisors and planning commission reject the application.

The planning commission was scheduled to discuss the application yesterday (Wednesday) but agreed to defer the public hearing to May 1, giving the developers more time to address staff’s concerns.

The challenges stem in part from the decision to split the 1.78-acre site known as the Westgate Block into two portions. Approved in 2013 as a single 18-story office building, the block will be divided into the Hilton hotel and a future residential or office building under the new proposal.

“From a design perspective, dividing the block into two distinct development areas creates unnecessary design challenges in circulation and access that would not otherwise exist with a unified development,” county staff said in a Feb. 29 report.

According to the application, the hotel’s primary vehicular entrance will be on Anderson Road, but a 36-foot-wide driveway for trash and loading activities is proposed on Platform Avenue, a planned “Main Street” for the Scotts Run development that will connect Anderson Road to South Dartford Drive.

The addition of a service entrance on Platform Avenue would disrupt the established vision of a retail-lined, pedestrian-oriented local street by “creating additional conflict points and detracting from the pedestrian experience,” county staff said.

Scotts Run developer Cityline Partners says the doors to the trash and loading area for Hilton’s hotel will blend in (via Fairfax County)

Cityline has offered to provide “high-quality” screening doors for the trash and loading area that will blend in with the surrounding building, along with bollards, decorative planters and other design and safety enhancements. But staff say the look and location are “still not optimal” for pedestrians. Read More

The Glade tennis courts in Reston are slated for a full renovation (via Reston Association/YouTube)

(Updated at 8:32 a.m., March 5) Infrastructure damaged by a storm at the Glade Tennis Courts in Reston is set for repairs that are expected to wrap up in the fall or spring.

In an update released Friday (March 1), Reston Association Capital Projects Director Chris Schumaker said RA plans to complete a full-court renovation, including new fences and LED court lighting, for the facility.

RA also plans to repair a damaged underground irrigation system that hydrates the clay courts, Schumaker said. The system was damaged by a storm in 2018.

The courts at 11550 Glade Drive will remain closed for the duration of the renovation period. Schumaker estimated reopening in the fall or early next spring.

Meanwhile, renovations at the North Hills pavilion (1400 N Village Road) are set to wrap up in mid-April. They include accessibility improvements, new parking areas, a pathway linking the parking lot and the pavilion, new grill stations and park furniture.

RA also plans to make the parking lot ADA compliant and provide an accessible pathway to link the parking lot to the pavilion.

Remains of two murdered teens were found in Holmes Run Stream Valley Park in Lincolnia on March 2, 2017 (via Google Maps)

A man who helped murder a 14-year-old in Holmes Run Stream Valley Park nearly eight years ago will spend a quarter-century in prison for his role in the crime.

Edwin Orellana Caballero was sentenced yesterday (Wednesday) to 25 years in prison — the maximum possible sentence — by U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr., the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced.

A member of a local branch of the transnational gang MS-13, Orellana Caballero pleaded guilty to maiming in aid of racketeering activity in November.

Orellana Caballero was 16 years old and a resident of Alexandria when he joined other MS-13 members in attacking the 14-year-old — who’s identified in court documents as S.A.A.T. — in the Lincolnia section of Holmes Run park on Sept. 26, 2016, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“The gang lured S.A.A.T. to Holmes Run Stream Valley Park in Fairfax County and murdered him in a wooded area there with knives, machetes, and a pickaxe,” the news release says. “Orellana Caballero struck S.A.A.T. multiple times with the pickaxe. Once S.A.A.T. was dead, the gang buried him in a shallow grave.”

Police found the 14-year-old’s body inside the park near the intersection of Crater Place and Yellowstone Drive on March 2, 2017 after a tip prompted a two-day search of the area. A second set of remains uncovered in the same area was a 17-year-old identified by federal prosecutors as E.E.E.M.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, E.E.E.M. was lured to Holmes Run Stream Valley Park by MS-13 members on Aug. 28, 2016, because they “erroneously suspected” that he belonged to a rival gang. He was stabbed and cut more than 100 times with knives, a machete and a pickaxe.

A month later, the same individuals targeted S.A.A.T. under the suspicion that he was a police informant.

Seventeen people have been charged in connection with the two murders. Five men who went to trial were convicted of murder and kidnapping by a jury in July 2022, resulting in life-long prison sentences for all of them. Orellana Caballero is one of 10 defendants so far to plead guilty before a trial.

“In so doing, he admitted to participating in S.A.A.T.’s murder for the purpose of maintaining and increasing his position in MS-13,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Orellana Caballero’s sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis and FBI Washington Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Scott.

Nearly two years after updating its vision for the future of McLean Central Park, the Fairfax County Park Authority is ready to start work on some of the planned upgrades.

Imperio Construction, a Delaware-based company contracted by the park authority, began mobilizing on the site at 1468 Dolley Madison Blvd this week, and active construction is expected to start during the first week of March.

“Residents should expect occasional construction traffic entering and exiting Dolley Madison,” the park authority said in a news release. “While portions of the park will be closed throughout the duration of the construction, access for tennis court and basketball court usage will remain open.”

The revitalization project will replace the park’s playgrounds with new, accessible equipment partially funded by community donations. After the FCPA shared initial plans to only update the school-age playground, local parents formed the McLean Central Playground Team and raised approximately $400,000 to also overhaul the tot lot.

The school-age playground will be moved to the same general area as the tot lot, which will be enclosed with a fence. In addition to getting more modern and inclusive equipment, the facilities will feature more seating and poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing.

Other upcoming improvements will include the addition of a pavilion and new walkways, along with any repairs to existing walkways that are needed so pedestrians can reach all facilites in the park.

“Additionally, benches will be replaced throughout the park and pedestrian lights will be relocated to improve the overall park experience,” FCPA spokesperson Benjamin Boxer said.

According to Boxer, the new pavilion will be open to the public and available for private rentals. It could also serve as an occasional performance venue for the McLean Community Center, which is adjacent to McLean Central Park and currently utilizes a gazebo there.

Building on a master plan from 2013, the park authority unveiled a development concept for McLean Central Park in 2021 that called for a dog park, amphitheater and recreational facilities, including a fitness area and bocce and game tables. The dog park was dropped from the proposal after some community members objected to losing a tennis court to make room for the amenity.

The revised concept was finalized in 2022 after a public meeting on March 2 and a one-month comment period.

The FCPA says it anticipates that active construction on the playgrounds, pavilion and walkways will finish by the end of 2024.

Concept plan via Fairfax County Park Authority

Reston resident Tracey Long won a contest with her essay about whitewater rafting on the Colorado River (via Tracey Long)

After triumphing over the Colorado River, a local Restonian has won an annual, nationwide contest for her account of the experience., the federal government’s travel planning and reservation platform, invites amateur writers to share stories of their experiences with national parks, forests and other federal recreation locations.

Tracey Long was named the grand prize winner of the 2023 “Share Your Story” contest for an essay about whitewater-rafting with her friends on the Colorado River.

Submitted on June 24, 2023, Long’s essay titled “My Brilliant Whitewater Grand Canyon Adventure” detailed her experience:

We left civilization from Lee’s Ferry, passing under the last vestige of civilization, a giant bridge and headed off for 7 days in the wild. Our days were spent on the river, either calmly floating enjoying the incredible rock formations or riding the incredible rapids in the “bathtub” up front of the raft. This is where you literally have a bathtub of cold water dumped over you (50 degree water mind you) numerous times when going through the rapids and little splashes from the side surprise you just in case you didn’t get enough the first go ’round. I held on tight and laughed with joy the entire time.

Second and third-place grand prize winners were also selected in the contest. They were all awarded REI gift cards and a pass giving them access to federal recreational sites across the country.

A panel of judges also chose winners for each month of the contest, which was open from January through September, and in different categories, including Activities and Adventures, Reaching for the Stars, Traditions (Old and New), Family or Group Travel, and Reflection Journeys.

Sponsored and administered by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, the contest is intended to highlight the “customer experience” at federal recreation sites.

“At, we strive to empower people to dream, plan, experience and share our nation’s federal lands and waters,” Program Manager Tommy Drake said. “As the government’s outdoor recreation system for 14 Federal agencies, we welcome the opportunity to encourage visitors to share their memorable experiences which also helps us deliver on our mission to continually improve our service based on what we hear and learn from our users.”

Paddle boats at the dock on Lake Accotink (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors hopes to preserve a smaller version of Lake Accotink, but a number of questions still need to be answered before it commits to a specific action plan.

At Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw’s request, the board directed staff yesterday (Tuesday) to begin a series of studies to flesh out a task force’s determination that it would be feasible for the county to save 20 to 40 acres of the Springfield lake as opposed to fully dredging it or allowing it to disappear.

“This has been closely coordinated with staff, so they’re aware of all of this,” Walkinshaw said prior to the unanimous board vote. “I believe we should proceed with the smaller lake option unless the feasibility study identifies unforeseen hurdles.”

In addition to a feasibility study that will look at the process, costs, implementation timeline and other factors of the potential project, the county will conduct a sedimentation rate study to get updated calculations of how much sediment is flowing into and out of Lake Accotink. A separate analysis will assess whether the man-made dam that created the lake meets Virginia’s current regulatory standards and the cost of any needed improvements.

To support the studies, the board told staff to develop a community engagement plan and assign a Department of Public Works and Environmental Services employee to coordinate the work, either by creating a new position or repurposing an existing one.

The county has already committed $60.5 million to Lake Accotink in its capital improvement program (CIP), according to Walkinshaw’s board matter. Approved in 2019 and 2021 to help dredge and maintain the lake, the funds will be continued in the next CIP, which is slated to be unveiled on Feb. 20 with the proposed fiscal year 2025 budget.

“I think we’re in a much better spot now than we were just a few weeks ago,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said. “I am very interested in the feasibility study not just looking at the initial costs of preserving Lake Accotink as a smaller lake, but also the ongoing maintenance costs and future capital costs.”

Lake Accotink Park (7500 Accotink Park Road) is one of the Fairfax County Park Authority’s most popular facilities, in part because of the boat rentals offered by its marina. However, the once-110-acre lake has shrunk to 49 acres due to sentiment transported by Accotink Creek, according to the Lake Accotink Task Force report released in December.

After previously planning to dredge the lake, a process undertaken in 1985 and 2008, county staff recommended last February that the lake instead be turned into a wetland, stating that the projected cost and neighborhood and environmental impacts no longer made dredging viable.

As community members urged the county to save Lake Accotink, the Board of Supervisors convened a task force led by former board chair Sharon Bulova to study if a smaller lake could be feasibly maintained with an initial, partial dredge, followed by regular maintenance dredges.

The task force studied the possibility of a 22-acre, 33-acre or 41-acre lake and found all of them could work, preserving the lake for recreation “while minimizing maintenance costs and impacts on surrounding communities,” Walkinshaw said in his board matter.

The smaller lake could be supplemented by trails, a managed wetland and other new amenities, the task force suggested. After the new feasibility study is completed, the park authority will restart a master planning process that was put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Depending on the exact size of the lake, the task force estimated that it could cost $24 to $34 million for an initial dredge that would restore a depth of 4-8 feet, but future maintenance costs are expected to be far lower than the $395 million that the county says it would take to preserve the full lake for the next 25 years, Walkinshaw noted.

Lingering questions include how to transport and dispose of the dredged sediment. A task force member suggested the Robinson Terminal Warehouse (7201 Wimsatt Road) as a processing site, but the property owners have made it “pretty clear they weren’t interested” when approached by county staff, according to Walkinshaw.

“Obviously, as this moves forward, all the potential processing sites will have to be reevaluated. For the time being, that’s been affirmed no,” he said.

Board Chairman Jeff McKay called the vote to initiate the feasibility study “a big step” in a discussion that’s been ongoing since 2016.

“Making sure the community knows where we’re heading is really critical here,” McKay said. “We still have some t’s to cross and i’s to dot here. This is a milestone moment, but not the end by any stretch of the imagination, and I know this will continue to be an issue of countywide importance until it’s resolved.”

The owner of Russell at Reston Station is seeking to turn the apartment building’s open lawn into a dog park (via Google Maps)

A new dog park is proposed at Russell at Reston Station, an apartment community at 11500 Commerce Park Drive.

The building owner, ST Wiehle LLC, is seeking to build the dog park in place of an open lawn after seeing many community members and residents use the existing park for their dogs.

“Due to the popularity of this activity that has resulted in wear and tear on the open lawn area, the applicant proposed to replace the open lawn area with a formalized dog park,” a land use planner representing the applicant said in a letter to the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning.

The application asks the department to confirm that the “minor design modifications” can be approved administratively, without requiring public hearings.

Located in the mid-block on the north side of Sunrise Valley Drive, the open lawn park is one of three located on the property.

According to the application, the existing shade structures, seating, mosaic area and paving will remain. Additions include artificial turf with drainage, a pet waste area, planters, round stools, solid-form benches and 1,590 square feet of concrete paving at the park’s entrance to match the existing sidewalk.

The previous lawn would also be converted into impervious turf to allow water to flow through a a layer of gravel before filtration.

A plant bed will be installed on both sides of the dog park to create a landscaped buffer from Sunrise Valley Drive, resulting in a park that totals 2,130 square feet in size.

“The applicant is simply making the space more usable to address resident and community needs,” the application says.

Image via Google Maps


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