Earlier: Community members will be able to enjoy a colorful new mural in the parking lot of the Providence Community Center (3001 Vaden Drive) today, June 26.
Set to take place from 4-6 p.m., the mural unveiling event will include family-oriented activities and games, snacks and face painting. Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik will lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony, with Neighborhood and Community Services officials on hand for the event.
Without enough physical space to expand the center’s outdoor facilities and build a playground, NCS instead created the parking lot mural as an alternative means of engaging with the community and providing kids with increased outdoor programming, the county says.
“We thought this was a good idea and a good use of space to have a place where children can come out and play outside,” NCS Division Director Chris Scales said.
According to the county, the mural is the “first of its kind” at an NCS center.
The vision for the mural was brought to life by several artists of color, including muralist Kendra “Kay” Lee, Artbae and Artbae Foundation founder Cary Michael Robinson and NCS staffer LaShari Celistan.
Celistan, who is also a member of Artbae, initially “brokered” the partnership between the Maryland-based artist collective and NCS, which led Robinson to enlist Lee as the artistic lead of the project, Lee says.
Lee noted that the project’s primary goal was to create a “bright” and “interactive” space for children.
“Before, [kids] would just come out and play in the end of the parking lot with balls and stuff like that,” Lee said. “There was nothing really to do.”
To carry out this goal, Lee and NCS decided to pair “nature” and “popular games” as the mural’s dual theme. Lee spent three weeks painting both nature-related images — such as bees, sunflowers, snails, leaves and a caterpillar — and childhood favorites, like hopscotch, four-square and a racing track.
“[I wanted to make] sure that the kids could relate to the things that we were putting on the ground,” Lee said.
The team also tried to incorporate as much community feedback as possible, taking into consideration comments made by community members passing by as Lee worked to complete the mural. For instance, Lee says she and NCS decided to scale down certain interactive paintings after several parents remarked that their children were too small to jump between designated spaces.
“This is their neighborhood, and it’s important to them,” Lee said. “…So we definitely wanted to make sure that they…felt included in the end product.”
As the pioneer behind an art-based community engagement project, Lee expressed that she hopes the county continues these types of projects and “look[s] forward to doing more.”
“I’m just excited for the reveal and excited to actually get the feedback from the community because at the end of the day, I just hope that my idea and [Celistan’s] idea and the things that we put together really meets the needs of that area,” Lee said.
Fairfax County has already decided to rename the Providence Community Center after the late Jim Scott, a former Providence District supervisor and state delegate.
The exact phrasing of the new name, however, remains up for debate.
Fairfax County Neighborhood & Community Services launched a public vote on June 1 to determine which name out of three options should be adopted:
- Jim Scott Community Center at Providence
- Jim Scott Providence Community Center
- Jim Scott Community Center
Votes can be cast online or in person at the Providence Community Center lobby. Respondents are limited to one vote per device.
The poll will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 23.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted on Oct. 25 to initiate a process to rename the community center after Scott, who represented Providence District on the board for 14 years, starting in 1971. He was then elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1991 and served 11 terms.
Scott died in 2017. Here’s more from the county on his legacy:
During his decades of service in local and state government, Jim was a strong advocate of affordable housing, education and school-based daycare centers, and civil rights. Rep Gerald E. Connolly, former Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, credited Jim as a “gentle but forceful advocate for all who feel powerless.”
Jim championed formation of the School Age Child Care program, which provides Fairfax County children in kindergarten-sixth grade with high-quality before- and after-school educational care. We look forward to naming the building in his honor to recognize and preserve the legacy of Jim Scott’s community-first representation.
Located at 3001 Vaden Drive in Oakton, the Providence Community Center provides classes, summer camps, and other programs as well as meeting space. It operates on Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
It’s also one of 12 additional sites that will open at 9 a.m. tomorrow for early voting.
Winter is coming, and with temperatures projected to top out in the 30s and low 40s next week, staying warm will soon become even more of a challenge for many Fairfax County residents.
To help those in need get through the season, Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik’s office will launch a winter clothes drive today (Monday), collecting coats, gloves and hats of all sizes for donation to local shelters.
New and gently used items are being accepted until Jan. 19 at the Providence District Office (3001 Vaden Drive), which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. A flyer says additional drop-off locations will be shared, but as of press time, the office was still waiting to confirm the other sites, including one at Tysons Corner Center.
“Holding donation drives is an opportunity for people to get involved and give back to the community,” Palchik said in an emailed statement. “What some may deem as a small donation is a big help to those in need. The collected winter gear will be donated not only to our unsheltered community members but also those who may not be able to afford them.”
For the drive, Palchik’s office has teamed up with the Providence Community Center, local homeowners’ associations, and the Tysons Community Alliance, which was formed in October to replace the Tysons Partnership as a nonprofit organization that advocates for the area and guides its evolution.
Recipients of the winter clothing donations will include The Lamb Center, a shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness located on the border of Oakton and Fairfax, and Tysons-based Second Story, which focuses on helping kids, teens and families.
While this drive will support Providence District residents, including Tysons, Oakton, Merrifield and the area around Fairfax, the North County Government Center will host a final drop-off date for Reston’s annual Winter Coat Closet on Jan. 14.
Photo via Eli Pluma/Unsplash
The Providence Community Center is set to be renamed after former Fairfax County Board Supervisor and House Delegate James M. Scott.
Scott was a longtime county supervisor before being elected to the House of Delegates by a single vote in 1991. He’s known locally as a supporter of human rights, affordable housing, and school-based daycare centers. Scott also founded the nonprofit Celebrate Fairfax, according to Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross.
As a state delegate, he pushed for letting people register to vote by mail, at DMVs, welfare offices, and employment centers. He also got a bill passed that required gubernatorial candidates to appear and personally endorse the content of their political ads as a means to reduce negative campaign advertising.
He was also an “early proponent of making the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a holiday,” per Palchik’s board matter. Scott died in 2017.
During the discussion, a number of supervisors chimed in about Scott’s impact and legacy in the county.
“I think about Jim a lot, I really do. He was definitely ahead of his time in a lot of ways…Above all, he cared about community,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said. “To put his name on a community center is such a wonderful thing.”
Chairman Jeff McKay noted that when he first met Scott, he was introduced to him as “Mr. Community.” Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity also applauded the renaming.
“He was from a different time — a better time, I would say, in terms of the Board of Supervisors,” Herrity said. “He was really about community and getting things done for the citizens of Fairfax County… I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate than naming the community center after him.”
While the approval of Palchik’s board matter starts the process of renaming the community center, it remains unclear officially when it will actually happen.
“We will be working with the Dept. of Neighborhood and Community Services on developing a timeline,” a spokesperson for Palchik’s office wrote FFXnow in an email.
Fairfax County is considering updating its comprehensive plan to incorporate new housing and other public facilities in the Judicial Complex, a nearly 48-acre portion land surrounded by the City of Fairfax that is slated for redevelopment.
Home to the county’s circuit, general district and juvenile courts as well as the Historic Fairfax County Courthouse, the county jail, and volunteer organizations, the complex underwent a master planning process that concluded in January 2021, kicking off implementation of a 20-year plan.
“Since the current Compressive Plan permits only existing public uses, a plan amendment would be required to accommodate the new uses proposed in the County Judicial Complex Master Plan. Future planning and zoning processes will continue to include comprehensive stakeholder engagement,” Palchik wrote in the board matter.
The master planning process first kicked off in 2018, creating a long-term roadmap and vision for the site, which Palchik noted has potential for infill development.
Several redevelopment projects are already underway at the complex.
A 170,000-square-foot building with one level of underground parking is under construction. The building will include space for 11 programs, including commonwealth’s attorney offices and police and fire evidence storage. The design will be finalized in early 2025, followed by the completion of construction in 2027.
Entitlement of the Judicial Complex is also underway. An amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan is necessary to allow for residential and other uses that are not explicitly related to public safety.
Demolition of two wings and a sally port built behind the Historic Courthouse building is scheduled to begin in the spring. Hazmat and asbestos abatement will also begin around that time, with estimated completion by spring 2024.
So far, roughly $3 million in funding has been allocated to design building one in the complex. The next phase will involve the wings set to be demolished.
Future phases call for workforce housing at the Burkholder Administrative Center site, a new diversion and community re-entry center, the removal of the staff parking garage, hinges to the public parking garage, and other public facilities.
The project is expected to cost around $223 million — a rough estimate that is being used for future Economic Development Authority financing. Total cost estimates for each phase are still being developed, according to county budgetary documents.
The complex was home to the Massey Building, a 13-story structure that was built in 1969 and served as the main seat for the county’s government.
A population boom through the 1980s pushed the county to move to its current government center campus, turning the Massey Building into a base for the police and fire and rescue departments.
After those departments moved to the Public Safety Headquarters on the government center campus in 2017, the building was demolished in spring 2020.
“Demolition of the Massey building provided the County with an opportunity to replan the Judicial Complex,” the county’s webpage for the redevelopment plan says. “The last comprehensive master plan for the site was developed in 2002 as part of the Courthouse Expansion and Renovation project. The goal of the master plan was to consider existing development needs, while keeping in mind and planning for future uses.”
So far, areas that are the focus of redevelopment include the former Massey building site, the Historic Courthouse and surface parking lots.
Palchik noted that the plan amendment will be reviewed concurrently with zoning applications once they are submitted.