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Town of Herndon government offices (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Town of Herndon is considering reductions in its parks and recreation fees in order to reduce financial barriers and encourage underserved youth and families to use the town’s facilities.

At a Herndon Town Council meeting on Sept. 5, the council discussed the proposal. If approved, the town would identify specific single and multi-family residents that could benefit from a reduced admission fee for the Herndon Community Center, which includes an indoor pool, gym, fitness room and racquetball courts.

Qualification would be determined by using several data sets that identify equity emphasis areas and historically disadvantaged communities. The town may also filter for areas below the median income, which is currently $117,741.

Town residents within these areas would receive discounts if they provide proof of address. Residents who provide proof of residency and documentation of need would also receive discounts. Non-residents living within the Herndon High School pyramid will also receive discounted non-resident rates with required documentation.

The town also wants to hire more staff — preferably bilingual staff — during peak hours.

“The department is seeking to hire (preferably bi-lingual) staff to maintain a presence within the center, develop a rapport with those using the facility, educate patrons on the availability and proper use of amenities, discourage unwelcome outside influences, and enforce expectations of behavior,” the Sept. 5 staff memo states.

Adults would pay $4 instead of $7 for daily passes and $40 instead of $63 for 10 visit passes. A 25 visit pass costs $90 instead of $140.

The idea came about after staff and the town manager met with Cornerstones, a local nonprofit organization that promotes self-sufficiency,  to create a reasonable and equitable fee schedule.

As part of the proposal, the town would also increase the hourly light fee from $4 to $5 per hour for the lit fields at Bready Park.

The Providence Rec Center swimming pool will be among those closed for deep cleaning starting Aug. 21 (via Google Maps)

As summer winds down, the Fairfax County Park Authority is gearing up to give some of its swimming pools thorough cleanings.

The pools and spas at the Cub Run, Providence and Franconia recreation centers will all be closed starting Monday (Aug. 21) for “deep system cleaning and necessary maintenance,” the park authority recently announced.

The closures will coincide with the first week of classes for Fairfax County Public Schools and continue through Labor Day. This period from late August to early September tends to see less pool usage “than at any other point throughout the year,” FCPA Regional Operations Branch Manager Kimeshia Junkins said in a press release.

“The Park Authority appreciates the patience and understanding of pool patrons as we conduct this work as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Junkins said.

The closure schedule is below:

Cub Run Rec Center (4630 Stonecroft Blvd., Chantilly)

  • Leisure and Competition Pools and Spa Closed: Aug. 21
  • Competition Pool Reopens: Sept. 5
  • Leisure Pool and Spa Reopen: Sept. 16

Providence Rec Center (7525 Marc Drive, Falls Church)

  • Pool and Spa Closed: Aug. 21
  • Pool and Spa Reopen: Sept. 6

Franconia Rec Center (6601 Telegraph Road, Alexandria)

  • Pool and Spa Closed: Aug. 21
  • Pool and Spa Reopen: Sept. 9

The park authority typically follows a two-year cycle to deep clean the pools at each of its nine rec centers. The George Washington Rec Center pool in Mount Vernon has been closed for maintenance since July 24 but is scheduled to reopen this Sunday (Aug. 20).

“The Park Authority is coordinating this needed work to minimize any inconvenience and deliver an improved experience for Rec Center members,” the FCPA said. “Projects include deep cleaning of the pools and pool decks, retiling in showers and addressing other improvements throughout each center.”

Photo via Google Maps

More community amenities are planned for the Hunters Woods ballfield in Reston (via RA)

The redevelopment of Hunters Woods ballfield will begin within the next month, Reston Association says.

The project will include a new pathway network, new landscaping, park furniture, improved storm drainage and a free little library.

“We are excited to share this update on the long-awaited Hunters Woods Ballfield Redevelopment Project,” RA wrote in a statement.

During construction, the site will be restricted. All trail users should follow posted signage and detours to ensure safety.

The concept plan for the field — which is not in use largely due to lack of parking and its remote location — was approved in 2020.

A pathway will line the perimeter of the site, and another formal walkway is planned through the middle of the site. Landscaping, bench seating and education signage are planned along some of the paths.

RA began geological testing at the ballfield in April 2022 as part of Fairfax County’s permitting and site plan approval process.

The Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition encouraged RA to repurpose the ball field, which is no longer used by the Reston-Herndon Little League.

Consultant Kimley-Horn Associates has been working with RA on the project.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn tours Tysons Forest with community members (courtesy Hunter Mill District Office)

With development starting to pick up in the Spring Hill area, the need to protect some of the last remaining natural green space in Tysons has taken on a new level of urgency.

Acknowledging the potential threat, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn — who represents Tysons west of Route 7 and north of Route 123 — will create a community task force to determine the best way to preserve Old Courthouse Spring Branch Stream Valley, also known as Tysons Forest.

“The Task Force will provide a forum for discussion and recommended action to maximize the ecological benefits of this green corridor while maintaining appropriate access by us humans,” Alcorn said in an announcement at yesterday’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Encompassing over 40 acres of wooded land, Tysons Forest extends from the Ash Grove historic site down to the Tysons Towers apartments. It includes Raglan Road Park (8590 Raglan Road) as well as the stream valley park.

The area was dubbed “Tysons Last Forest” by residents who banded together in 2013 to halt plans for a road through Old Courthouse Spring Branch Stream Valley Park.

The county’s Tysons Comprehensive Plan emphasizes that the Old Courthouse Spring Branch and Scotts Run stream valleys “should not only be protected from development and infrastructure impacts, but be restored and enhanced.”

However, the plan also envisions “substantial redevelopment” for Tysons West to transform an area currently dominated by auto dealerships and offices into a mixed-use, transit-oriented district with “significant office, residential and retail components, as well as arts and entertainment uses.”

While that development mostly hasn’t emerged yet, the parkland is already close enough to human activities that a potential deer hunt last year was deemed too risky.

The plan proposes developing “multi-use trail and other passive recreational facilities” at Old Courthouse Spring Branch park, while considering athletic fields or other “local-serving recreational uses” at Raglan Road Park.

No changes to that plan will come from the new task force, which isn’t intended to address development in the area, Alcorn told FFXnow.

“Rather it is a task force of representative property owners along the stream valley to discuss management and ecological enhancement of this green corridor that forms the border of Tysons,” he said. “Some of the area has already completed stream restoration but there is as of yet no coordinated plan for the stream valley that lies between the Dulles Toll Road and Gosnell Road.”

According to Alcorn, the task force will be community-led and include representatives of property owners and other “community partners.” He said the other county supervisors and their staffs are also welcome to participate.

The group will convene this fall and is expected to wrap up its work in early 2024.

“It’s actually going to be a fun exercise to see how those ecological assets could be built upon and used for the broader community,” Alcorn said.

Alcorn’s full announcement is below: Read More

A man on a bench outside the Spring Hill Rec Center in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County’s efforts to become more energy efficient will get a power boost this week, as work begins on improvements at McLean’s Spring Hill Rec Center.

Set to break ground at 2 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday), the project will add the recreation center at 1239 Spring Hill Road to a growing list of county facilities supported by solar panels. Other planned changes include pool dehumidification unit replacements, LED lighting upgrades, improved building automation systems and a new geothermal HVAC system.

“The project represents a significant step forward toward meeting the county’s goals for carbon neutrality in its facilities, fleet vehicles and operations, including 50% of county electricity from renewable sources by 2040,” the Fairfax County Park Authority said.

Adopted in July 2021, the county’s Operational Energy Strategy set 2040 as the target date for achieving carbon neutrality in its energy use — the point when it will remove as many greenhouse gas emissions as it releases.

In addition to getting half its electricity from renewable sources by 2040, the county hopes to reach carbon neutrality by cutting overall energy usage in half, transitioning to fully electric or non-carbon-emitting vehicle fleets by 2035 and producing zero waste by 2030, among other goals.

After running into some early roadblocks, particularly when it came to solar panels, the push to make the county’s facilities more energy efficient has picked up steam in recent months.

There are 22 solar projects in progress, including the Spring Hill one as well as five others that are under construction and expected to be completed this year, the Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination reported to the Board of Supervisors at a July 18 committee meeting.

Later this afternoon, the board will hold a public hearing on whether to lease some upcoming facilities, including the new Franconia Governmental Center and planned Mason District Police Station addition, for solar photovoltaic (PV) array installations.

The county has also finished installing 96 electric vehicle charging stations at 11 facilities and has another five locations and 116 charging spaces on the way through 2024, though the Spring Hill Rec Center isn’t on that list.

The rec center will be the county’s fifth energy efficiency retrofit project, following completed upgrades at the Cub Run and South Run rec centers and the City of Fairfax Regional Library. Improvements to the Pender Building that houses the Department of Housing and Community Development are on track to finish this November.

According to the park authority, the Spring Hill Rec Center’s new solar PV array will produce 307 kilowatts of energy, providing 13% of the building’s annual electricity.

“That’s enough energy to power 33 homes, annually,” FCPA spokesperson Benjamin Boxer said.

Coordinated by energy service contractor CMTA, the upgrades are collectively expected to reduce the facility’s electric consumption by 19% and gas consumption by 29% each year, the FCPA says.

The park authority anticipates finishing work on the project by late summer 2024.

“There may be occasional, temporary disruptions to Rec Center operations due to construction activities, but the Park Authority will work to minimize any impacts to our patrons,” Boxer said.

Offering classes, camps and one of the FCPA’s three licensed preschools, the Spring Hill Rec Center hosts a 15,000-square-foot fitness center, an indoor gym, a swimming pool and spa, and various outdoor facilities, including a playground and baseball and soccer fields.

The outdoor apparel retailer Arc’teryx is opening a new store in Tysons (courtesy Tysons Corner Center)

A Canadian retailer that specializes in outdoor apparel and climbing gear is ready to brave the wilds of Tysons Corner Center.

Arc’teryx will launch its new Tysons store with a grand opening party on Saturday (July 22), featuring music, food, raffles and giveaways.

The 3,306-square-foot store is located on the mall’s second floor at the Bloomingdale’s end. It’s sandwiched between Adidas and Tempur-pedic, and across the hall from the jewelry shop Kendra Scott.

“We are problem solvers, always evolving and searching for a better way to deliver resolved minimalist design. Good design that matters makes lives better,” Arc’teryx said in a press release, noting that its products are sold at more than 2,400 retail locations around the world.

Initially named Rock Solid Manufacturing, Arc’teryx was founded in 1989 by Vancouver climber Dave Lane, who felt that, using his experience, he could make better climbing harnesses and chalk bags than what was available at the time, according to the magazine Gripped.

Lane soon partnered with another climber, Jeremy Guard, and the company rebranded to Arc’teryx in 1991 as a nod to the Archaeopteryx Lithographica, which was believed to be the earliest bird in existence when it was discovered in 1861.

Still based in Vancouver, the business now sells clothing, backpacks, footwear and accessories, including hats, gloves and belts, along with the climbing gear that was its original forte.

The store’s doors at Tysons Corner Center will open at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Refreshments will be provided by Urban Chefs Table and the upcoming D.C. bakery Rick’s Cookie Co. There will also be music throughout the day, courtesy of DJ Jerome Baker III and DJ Main Event.

In addition, Arc’teryx is giving away prizes worth $40 to $300 to the first 50 people who RSVP to the event, follow the store on Instagram and attend the grand opening.

This is the company’s first store in Northern Virginia, but its products can be found at REIs in Fairfax and Bailey’s Crossroads as well as Sun & Ski in Seven Corners. Arc’teryx opened a store in the District at CityCenterDC in 2014, its first location on the East Coast.

The St. James in Reston now offers pickleball for members and non-members (courtesy The St. James)

Pickleball fever has officially taken hold at The St. James, a sports, entertainment and wellness club in Reston Town Center.

The Reston location will now offer two separate outdoor, turf rooftop areas with four pickleball courts, in addition to strength-building and cardio equipment. There will be more than 70 weekly group classes.

The company, which also has locations in Springfield and Bethesda, says the addition of its pickleball club demonstrates the company’s commitment to the community’s needs.

“Our mission at The St. James has always been to exceed the expectations of our members and provide them with world-class training opportunities for growth within sport and in life,” said David Hoye, general manager of The St. James Performance Club in Reston.

The club opened at 11951 Freedom Drive last year. The main facility in Springfield has an Olympic-sized swimming pool, field house, rock climbing wall and other recreational amenities. It also offers 50 group classes per week, sports leagues and numerous camps.

Court use is complementary for members, but non-member rates are $10 for drop-ins and $25 per court reservations.

Kite fighting is banned in Fairfax County parks (via order_242/Wikimedia Commons)

The Fairfax County Park Authority is asking people to stop fighting with kites.

Last week, the park authority issued a warning about the dangers and harm caused by kite fighting, which is prohibited at county parks.

Kite fighting is an old tradition that has seen its popularity rise in recent years, partly due to the book and movie “The Kite Runner.” It’s particularly practiced in South America and a number of Asian countries, including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Korea, and Vietnam. The main objective is to cut an opponent’s kite line before they cut yours.

But kite fighting can also be dangerous, since the already-sharp strings are sometimes coated with pieces of glass mixed with glue. Strings prepared this way can cause severe injury or, even, death. Earlier this year, sharp strings killed three children at a festival in India.

The FCPA says visitors could be banned from county parks if they repeatedly violate the kite fighting prohibition.

“The Fairfax County Park Authority has prohibited kite fighting at Fairfax County Parks, citing increasing reports of harm to wildlife, vegetation, maintenance equipment and the inherent risks to public safety,” the agency said in a press release. “Individuals observed to be kite fighting will be asked to stop. Individuals who refuse or repeatedly violate this rule may potentially be banned from park use.”

FCPA spokesperson Ben Boxer told FFXnow that kite fighting has been prohibited in county parks for “well over a year.”

However, the authority decided to issue a warning after getting complaints from community members and reports from volunteers and maintenance crews who are consistently “removing kite string/wire and debris from trees, trails and from our maintenance equipment.”

The county has received a dozen complaints from the community and volunteers in 2023, Boxer said. It also has led to increased maintenance costs with strings getting caught in mowers and other equipment.

“We’ve begun to encounter these hazards at more of our parks within the last 12 months, so this is not an isolated issue,” he said, noting that the issue isn’t confined to a specific park or area of the county.

The park authority has “seen evidence of kite fighting and received concerns from several locations,” Boxer told FFXnow.

Beyond presenting a potential danger to humans, the sharp lines can get caught on treetops and low-lying brush or end up in the water, which can be fatal to wildlife.

“Often, the kite debris and attached string are not recovered and disposed of, leaving a potentially near-invisible hazard for animals and people,” the park authority said. “Park patrons, wildlife managers and Park Authority staff are regularly documenting potential harm to birds, reptiles and other wildlife caught in kite line.”

An indoor pickleball facility has been proposed for 8520 Tyco Road (via Pickleball Club of Tysons/Fairfax County)

A plan to bring pickleball to a warehouse near the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons is starting to take more concrete shape.

The Pickleball Club of Tysons is seeking a special permit from Fairfax County to build an indoor pickleball facility with six courts at 8520 Tyco Road, an office and warehouse park just across the street from the Adaire apartments.

“There is a growing demand for high quality dedicated indoor pickleball courts in Fairfax County,” the club said in a statement of justification. “The Pickleball Club of Tysons will meet the growing demand as one of the only dedicated indoor pickleball facilities in Fairfax County.”

The number of pickleball facilities in the county has grown in recent years to 76 courts, as of June, according to the Fairfax County Park Authority. But indoor options remain limited almost three years after Pickleballerz in Chantilly became Northern Virginia’s first indoor, pickleball-only facility.

Tarlika Amin and Marc Greenberg, a pair of local pickleball players, decided to develop the Pickleball Club of Tysons after getting frustrated with the difficulties of finding open courts, they told WJLA.

They anticipate opening the new facility by spring 2024, assuming the permitting and construction processes go smoothly, according to WJLA.

Located toward the back of the 90,000-square-foot property, the facility will feature six 20-by-44-foot courts that can each accommodate two to four players at a time. The club envisions allowing drop-in play, competitive leagues, private lessons, tournaments and special events.

There will also be a reception or check-in area, a lounge, bathrooms, a water fountain and a management office, according to the application.

The proposed operating hours will be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Just five total employees are expected, including a full-time manager and four part-time workers.

Estimating a maximum of 36 players at any given time and five total employees, including a full-time manager and four part-time workers, the club says it doesn’t “anticipate any meaningful traffic impact” as a result of the proposal.

“The site is walking distance to the Silver Line Metro, and we expect a large portion of patrons to come on-site via Metro,” the application said. “At any one time a maximum of 36 cars could conceivably drive onto the site. And again, this would be highly unlikely that 36 patrons with cars would be on-site at the same time.”

According to the application, property owner Cambridge has agreed to provide up to 50 parking spots at the site, which will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

While the property is zoned for an industrial district, Fairfax County allows commercial recreational uses are allowed with a special permit. The application notes that there are already a number of recreational facilities in the area, including the sports complex Perfect Performance NOVA and the Tysons Playground Fitness & Performance Center.

The application was submitted to the county last week but hasn’t been officially accepted for review yet.

The possibility of a new pickleball facility in the area will no doubt come as a relief to the Town of Vienna, which has been seeking alternatives to reduce noise-related conflicts between players and neighbors at its Glyndon Park courts.

A sky terrace is planned at the proposed Fairfax Peak site in Lorton (via Fairfax County)

The arrival of one of the largest indoor ski facilities in the world to Fairfax County is still up in the air.

Alpine-X, a Tysons-based company, had hoped to file plans late last year to lease land at the county-owned I-95 landfill in Lorton for the public-private project called Fairfax Peak.

“Market changes” pushed that goal back, according to Alpine-X Chief Financial Officer Jim Calder.

“We’re hoping to have a better sense of timing in the next three months,” Calder said.

“The current markets/inflationary construction costs have impacted our timeline,” a spokesperson for the company told FFXnow. “However, our goal is to transition to rapid development as soon as these factors improve.”

Alpine-X filed a proposal in 2018 to build the 450,000-square-foot snow sports facility with a 1,700-foot ski slope.

Other features of the proposed snow sports complex might include multiple ski slopes, a water park, gravity ropes course, areas for skiing and snowboarding, restaurants, a gondola, a luxury hotel and a gravity-powered mountain coaster, according to the submitted proposal.

In December 2021, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to extend the negotiation period between the county and the company until Dec. 31, 2023.


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