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Bad Axe Throwing has vacated its Mosaic District space (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The former Bad Axe Throwing spot at the Mosaic District in Merrifield is being wiped clean.

Work to demolish Suite 190 at 2985 District Avenue has been underway for the past month, based on Fairfax County permits, as property owner EDENS prepares the space for a potential new tenant.

For those just itching to toss a hatchet or two, though, Bad Axe Throwing urges patience. The business is “actively pursuing a new location to open in the Fairfax area,” says Skylar Mills, the operations manager for the shuttered Mosaic District site.

“Fairfax is an amazing area and we are fully committed to finding a new, awesome location but it can take some time,” Mills said in an email to FFXnow. “Being an event based business, and axe throwing on top of that, narrows our options so we generally need to remain patient until the right space becomes available.”

Mills said she couldn’t comment further on a possible new location or reopening date but confirmed the company is “looking at any and all options in the broader area,” not just the Mosaic District.

Bad Axe Throwing started in 2014 amid a trend of axe-throwing bars that first took off in Canada before migrating to the U.S. in the late 2010s. After opening its first center in Ontario, it now has eight locations in Canada, dozens in the U.S., and two in the U.K.

The Mosaic District bar opened in September 2019 and reported success with over 600 visitors in its first weekend. However, it closed in the spring of 2020 when then-Gov. Ralph Northam ordered a shutdown of most businesses in Virginia in an effort to limit the coronavirus’ spread.

Bad Axe Throwing founder and CEO Mario Zelaya told FFXnow’s sister site, Tysons Reporter, that May that the company intended to reopen the Mosaic location when possible, though even then, a “long and difficult road to recovery” was expected.

The Mosaic District has added a few, mostly food-related tenants in recent months, including Shake Shack, the pizza eatery Pupatella and Pressed juice bar. The fast-casual Indian restaurant Rasa will open in the mixed-use neighborhood tomorrow (Saturday).

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Closed sign (via Tim Mossholder/Unsplash)

While it won’t be quiet around Fairfax County on Monday with Fourth of July celebrations, many government offices and facilities will be closed.

Government offices, and some businesses, are closed for the Independence Day holiday. Public transportation schedules may be lighter and public services, like trash collection, may be changed. See our listing below to get details on what will be open and closed.

Government

Fairfax County government offices will be closed Monday (July 4) in recognition of the Fourth of July holiday, but some facilities are open and schedules vary.

The library system’s branches will be closed on Monday. Animal Control is closed, as it normally is, on Mondays.

The Circuit and District courts will be closed Monday.

The Town of Herndon offices will be closed Monday.

Park Authority

All Park Authority rec centers and golf centers and will be open Monday. Historic sites, nature centers and Green Spring Gardens will be closed. Frying Pan Farm Park Farm and indoor arena will be open while its visitor center will be closed. The River Bend Park Visitor Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All Neighborhood and Community Service facilities will be closed Saturday (July 2) through Monday. Reston Community Center Hunter Woods will be open Monday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Lake Anne will be closed on Monday.

The McLean Community Center will be closed.

Herndon Community Center will be closed Monday. But Herndon Centennial Golf Course will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting.

Transportation

Fairfax Connector will operate on a Saturday service schedule on Monday. Human Services Transportation (FASTRAN) will not operate on Monday.

On Monday, Metrorail will open at 7 a.m. and close at midnight but last train times vary by station. The Orange Line trains will operate between Vienna and Stadium-Armory only, according to Metro, but free express and local shuttle buses will be provided.

Trash

The county advises residents to contact their trash and recycling collector directly for service schedule changes due to the holiday.

The I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex will be closed Monday.

Town of Herndon recycling will be collected Tuesday (July 5) since it is normally collected Monday.

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The Mosaic Skateland rink from summer 2021 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Lace up the skates and practice popping those wheelies, because the Mosaic District’s popular outdoor roller skating rink is returning later this month.

Mosaic Skateland is set to open on June 25 on Merrifield Center Town Drive, between the Barnes & Noble and Mexican restaurant Urbano and across from Bloomie’s. It will run through the entire summer, until September 25.

The “80’s retro style roller rink” will be open seven days a week and at least 11 hours a day. On Friday and Saturday nights, the rink will be open for more than 12 hours, from 11 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended, and attendees can bring their own skates, though pairs will be available for rent.

Opening night will also be accompanied by a “Pride Celebration” with musical performances.

Additionally, all roller rink ticket sales during the Pride Celebration will be donated to the advocacy group FCPS Pride to help “ensure that all students, including trans and gender-expansive students are welcome, safe and respected in schools,” according to the event page.

A spokesperson from EDENS, the owner and developer of the Mosaic District, told FFXnow by email that it sees the partnership with FCPS Pride as “a terrific way” to support LGBT youth and “educate our community.”

“The Gay-Straight Alliance student groups have moved more to a Gender and Sexuality Alliance as being more inclusive of the whole community of LGBTQI+ and allies,” the spokesperson wrote. “Skateland brings the community together as one to celebrate Pride month representing the importance of total inclusion.”

EDENS is partnering with operator Rink Management Services Corporation (RMS), which claims it is the largest operator of ice skating facilities in the country.

RMS applied for a special permit to construct the rink on an annual basis back in April, as FFXnow reported. The zoning hearing isn’t scheduled until July, but it appears the rink will be allowed to operate earlier than that.

The Board of Supervisors agreed in March to grant RMS a 75% reduction in zoning fees as part of last summer’s emergency measure that lowered or waived some fees to help the hospitality industry during the pandemic. RMS paid a $4,093.75 fee paid back in March, rather than the $16,375 fee that the permit typically would’ve carried.

EDENS is asking that the permit be approved “for future years as well,” turning the roller skating rink — as well as an ice skating rink in the winter months — into a permanent fixture at the Mosaic District.

If approved, the roller rink will run for about three months each year, starting in the spring as opposed to summer, according to an April statement from RMS. The operator also hopes to run an ice rink during the winter, starting in early November and closing in late February.

The Mosaic District has seen plenty of activity in recent weeks, with the opening of Shake Shack and last week’s launch of its summer movie series “Films in the Park,” which has screenings every Thursday through the end of August.

Still to come this summer is the Middle Eastern restaurant Tawle, which will move into the former Jinya space as the ramen bar relocates to a bigger suite.

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Morning Notes

Verizon truck drives through water while turning from Baron Cameron Avenue to Reston Parkway after rain (photo by Ed Schudel)

Fairfax County Rescue Dog Dies — “We regret to announce the passing of #canine Phayu after a long illness. An 8-year veteran, he deployed worldwide including to quakes in Haiti & Nepal, and hurricanes in the Bahamas & USA. We thank Phayu for his service and extend condolences to his family and our #K9 section.” [Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team/Twitter]

County Firefighters Deliver Free Shoes to Kids — “The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department along with Firefighters and Friends to the Rescue on Thursday gave away more than 300 pairs of new shoes to children and families in need. The giveaways were held at Gum Springs and Lee District community centers in Alexandria.” [ABC7]

Route 28 Lanes Closed for Skewed Sign — A Route 28 sign for the Willard Road exit in Chantilly got knocked out of place during the morning rush hour yesterday (Thursday). Crews had to block off two southbound lanes for almost five hours while they addressed the situation, which required a removal of the sign pole. [VDOT/Twitter]

Free School Meals to End This Fall — “For the past two years, the federal government has provided no-cost meals to all public school students without the need to complete the annual Free and Reduced-Price Meal application. The extension of the no-cost meals benefit to all students is expected to expire at the end of this school year, meaning families must submit an application and be approved to be eligible for free and reduced price meals for the 2022-23 school year.” [FCPS]

McLean Rec Center to Close Tomorrow — “Spring Hill Rec Center will close June 4 through 7 to address electrical maintenance issues. This project was planned for August but has been moved up to ensure continuous site operation and safety.” [Supervisor John Foust/Twitter]

Herndon Man Charged With Assault — A 43-year-old man faces aggravated assault and burglary charges after Herndon police say he allegedly “entered a home in the 600 block of Center Street without permission on May 23 and assaulted one of it occupants.” The man is currently being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. [Patch]

Asian Fusion Eatery Joins Tysons Biergarten — “RollBär, an Asian fusion restaurant, opens TODAY at @shipgarten! Shipgarten, a new pop-up located at the future site of Scotts Run’s ‘Taylor’ block, launched last Thursday with the reopening of #TysonsBiergarten.” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]

The St. James Plans Maryland Expansion — After unveiling a performance club at Reston Town Center in April, the Springfield-based sports complex announced yesterday (Thursday) that it will bring a similar facility to downtown Bethesda this winter. The new club will be smaller than The St. James’ flagship site, which is the largest athletic facility in the region, but it will include a Vim & Victor Café. [Washingtonian]

Charcoal Chicken Restaurant Coming to West Falls Church — “Super Pollo Charcoal Chicken is moving into the spot vacated by DC Steakholders at 6641 Arlington Blvd…Juan Carlos Hernandez, manager of the Barcroft Plaza Super Pollo expects the new place will open in two to three months.” [Annandale Today]

It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 75 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Cyclists on the Mount Vernon Trail (via National Park Service)

An iconic resource along the Potomac River is turning 50.

The Mount Vernon Trail first opened on April 15, 1972. Half a century later, elected officials and others will gather to celebrate its storied history with activities for all ages.

Scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday (April 16), the 50th anniversary event at Daingerfield Island (1 Marina Drive) in Alexandria will feature giveaways, work demos, the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger Program, and more, according to an event page.

“The creation of the Mount Vernon Trail exemplifies how determined community members can help foster partnerships with government and the private sector to create a community asset that benefits all of us,” Mount Vernon Supervisor Daniel Storck said during a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday (Tuesday).

The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail credits volunteers as instrumental in creating the multi-use path, which now spans more than 18 miles across Fairfax and Arlington counties and Alexandria City:

On April 15, 1972, the first 4.5-mile stretch of the Mount Vernon Trail opened to the public. The gravel path ran from Belle Haven in Alexandria to the Memorial Bridge in Arlington and was the brainchild of two Alexandria women, Ellen Pickering and Barbara Lynch. In 1971, the two gathered over 700 signatures on a petition to create a trail alongside the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

The National Park Service was sympathetic to the plea and agreed to provide the right-of-way, gravel, and tools if Pickering and Lynch could provide volunteers to do the work. So Pickering and Lynch organized 40 volunteers, and every Saturday that winter they spread gravel. In total, 400 recruits spread 4,200 tons of gravel, contributing 5,300 hours of labor to start the trail that would become a vital recreational and transportation corridor in the region.

Storck said the trail serves as an essential artery for the Mount Vernon District, an 18.5-mile anchor for the region’s trail network with approximately 1 million annual users.

In addition to Storck, speakers at the celebration will include:

  • George Washington Memorial Parkway Superintendent Charles Cuvelier
  • Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail President Judd Isbell
  • Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol
  • Alexandria City Councilmember Sarah Bagley

Several community, transportation, and governmental groups are also expected to attend, including BikeArlington, WalkArlington, Capital Bikeshare, GO Alex, East Coast Greenway, Capital Trails Coalition, Friends of Dyke Marsh, and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

The event is free and open to the public.

Photo via National Park Service

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The Mosaic District’s roller skating rink from summer 2021 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The outdoor roller skating rink that popped up on Strawberry Lane in the Mosaic District last summer could become a seasonal fixture — with a possible ice skating rink also in the works.

EDENS, the owner and developer of the Merrifield mixed-use community, has partnered with operator Rink Management Services Corporation to revive the Mosaic Skateland rink annually, starting this summer, according to a special permit application recently submitted to Fairfax County.

“The goal of this event is to create a fun activity that brings the community outside and active after a couple years of Covid-19 quarantine,” Rink Management Services said in a statement.

If the permit is approved, the roller skating rink will operate seven days a week from June 24 through Sept. 25, with about a week required to both set the facility up and take it down. It will allow one-hour sessions with up to 50 skaters each.

Instead of blocking off Strawberry Lane, the Mosaic District’s main thoroughfare, the rink will be located on Mosaic Town Center Drive at the District Avenue corner, adjacent to Barnes & Noble.

Like in 2021, this year’s Skateland will open during LGBTQ Pride Month. In an email, EDENS suggests following the launch day with a Pride celebration on June 25, including a donation to FCPS Pride, an advocacy group for LGBTQ+ school employees.

After this year, the roller rink will shift to more of a spring event, running approximately 90 days each year from the beginning of April through the end of June, Rink Management Services suggests.

The company has also proposed introducing an ice skating rink at the Mosaic District during the winter.

The ice rink would run for approximately 120 days from early November to late February, and it could support holiday events as well as the annual Polar Plunge fundraiser for the Special Olympics, according to the application materials.

Because the rink will stick around longer than it did last year, a temporary event special permit is required from the county, which carries a $16,375 fee, according to Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik.

At Palchik’s request, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agreed on March 22 to grant EDENS a 75% reduction in zoning fees in accordance with an emergency measure adopted on July 27 that waived or reduced regulations and fees to assist the hospitality industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the ordinance only mentions indoor recreational facilities as eligible, Palchik made the case that the Mosaic skating rink proposal is “essentially the same” as the hospitality uses explicitly mentioned in the measure.

“The proposed skating rink is intended to add significant outdoor activities to an existing, established shopping and lifestyle center,” she said, adding that EDENS intends to use the proceeds from the rink to support a local nonprofit.

EDENS declined to provide further details about the skating rink plans.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said the amount of the permit fee “raised my eyebrows,” suggesting the board could examine whether to make changes.

“That seems excessive for something like this,” McKay said.

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Fairfax County could designate different times and days for when tennis and pickleball players can use its shared courts.

That is one of the changes under consideration by the Fairfax County Park Authority after its board approved a pickleball study report in December that highlighted concerns about the two sports competing for limited court space.

“This information would be posted onsite and is aimed at reduced conflicts between players of both popular sports,” Park Authority spokesperson Judy Pedersen said by email.

Intended to gauge demand for new facilities and illuminate existing issues in the county, the pickleball study kicked off with an online survey in December 2020.

The survey ultimately drew over 1,800 responses, around 600 of which mentioned locations where people experienced conflict between pickleball use and another recreational activities, particularly tennis.

Respondents reported encountering often crowded courts, and one person recalled being told by a tennis player at Kemper Park in Oakton that the courts were for “tennis only,” even though the pickleball group had eight players.

In response to the sport’s growing popularity, Fairfax County has added 19 pickleball courts to existing tennis courts over the last 18 months. In November, two pickleball-only courts opened at Wakefield Park in Annandale.

With those additions, the FCPA now has 52 outdoor courts outfitted for pickleball, on top of six indoor courts in its recreation centers — a total similar to other similarly sized jurisdictions, according to the report.

However, the report also noted that the park authority has fewer facilities with six or more dedicated pickleball courts compared to other providers.

It recommended that the county create at least two pickleball-only facilities with at least six courts for large group drop-in play and tournaments, either by repurposing underutilized facilities or building new ones.

The FCPA is already looking at Lewinsville Park in McLean as a possible site for adding pickleball courts or converting the existing tennis courts into shared-use facilities.

Site constraints, the proximity of other facilities, and accessibility for populous areas in the county are among the factors that the county is taking into account when deciding potential court locations, according to Pedersen.

“Although we may potentially use park bond dollars in the future for the design and construction of pickleball-only facilities that could be used by larger groups, these projects would compete with the many other Park Authority projects, initiatives and capital needs of the entire park system,” Pedersen said.

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A group of people play pickleball (via Lauren Bryan/Flickr)

Pickleball continues to grow in popularity, and Fairfax County is looking for ways to accommodate a rising demand for local, dedicated facilities.

A draft report that the county released last week highlights the conflict that pickleball has experienced with other recreational activities. It also provides strategies for how to minimize or eliminate problems when adding pickleball courts, especially in spaces shared with other sports like tennis and basketball.

“A key finding of the study was that the potential for conflict between sport courts exists when providing shared-use courts or repurposing courts to sports for which they were not initially constructed, such as tennis or basketball,” the report said.

People can comment on the draft report through Oct. 1 by email and phone and at a virtual meeting scheduled for next Tuesday (Sept. 14).

Based an online survey that Fairfax County Park Authority carried out from December 2020 to January 2021, the report says respondents have experienced conflicts with tennis players using available courts, thereby limiting their use for pickleball.

One person said conflict “is too strong a word, but [we] occasionally have to change plans when courts are already taken by tennis players.” Another person reported a tennis player saying the courts were for tennis only.

The county’s report says both tennis and pickleball got a boost across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as people sought activities that can be played while maintaining advised social distancing.

The number of tennis players increased 22% to 21.64 million in the U.S. from 2019 to 2020, according to the U.S. Tennis Association. Meanwhile, pickleball grew 21.3% to 4.2 million players during that same time frame, according to the USA Pickleball Association.

In the Fairfax County Park Authority’s survey, which generated over 1,800 responses, approximately 78% of people said they played pickleball in the last year, and most played a few times a week or month.

The county’s report said local participation in pickleball mirrors regional and national trends, and more publicly maintained courts have already started to emerge during the pandemic.

“In the 18 months prior to this report, 19 pickleball courts were added to existing tennis courts and the two pickleball-only courts were constructed, representing a 68 percent net increase in the number of pickleball courts,” the report noted.

In the report, county staff shared strategies for identifying where pickleball spaces could be added, either by constructing new courts dedicated solely for pickleball or by repurposing or sharing existing courts.

Park authority officials say that a 2024 park bond or other funding sources could assist with designing and constructing a pickleball-only facility that has at least six courts.

For transforming existing spaces into shared or dedicated courts for pickleball, the county points to a phased approach adopted by Montgomery County as a best practice “that has demonstrated success in the Washington, D.C. metro region.”

The process involves placing pickleball court lines on a court temporarily, observing the space for two to four weeks, and noting any conflicts or reported issues as well as player usage trends before either removing the temporarily lines or making them permanent for shared use with continued monitoring.

“Prior to the introduction of pickleball at a court, or prior to the removal of nonpickleball play at a court, decision makers should evaluate a facility’s current utilization, area service levels, and potential reasons for under-utilization such as demand, location, access, or maintenance,” the report said. “It is inappropriate to change the use of a court if such a change would result in a significant reduction of adopted service levels or conflicts between sports that cannot be minimized or mitigated.”

The report also found that Fairfax County is comparable to other areas in terms of the overall number of pickleball courts it provides per capita, but only two facilities are dedicated to pickleball, while 48 outdoor courts are shared with tennis players.

However, pickleball players here said the county didn’t offer enough opportunities to play the sport, such as courts dedicated solely to pickleball or groupings of pickleball courts to support many concurrent games, so county staff determined that one solution is to strategically locate pickleball courts together to better facilitate group and tournament play, Park Authority long range planning chief Ryan Stewart said in a statement.

As part of those concerns, many people still expressed dissatisfaction with how Fairfax County’s development of facilities compared to other jurisdictions.

“Of area jurisdictions, only Prince William County has, to date, provided purpose-built, dedicated pickleball courts. This eight-court facility was often cited in the public survey as players’ preferred venue,” the report said. “Montgomery Parks is currently converting its tennis courts at Bauer Lane Local Park to six pickleball-only courts with lighting.”

County staff said the report’s recommendations should be considered in conjunction with ongoing community engagement from participants, neighbors, and other stakeholders.

“The Park Authority has valued the contributions of the community of players and remains committed to ongoing dialog as these recommendations are implemented and as new opportunities emerge to address growing demand,” the report said.

The draft report stems from a formal review of pickleball players’ needs that the county launched in the summer of 2019. The county expects to finalize the report next month after the latest round of public comments, and the park authority board could approve it in November.

Photo via Lauren Bryan/Flickr

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