The name change is the latest in a series of efforts to disentangle localities from names honoring Confederate leaders, though Fairfax County’s release noted that there is no conclusive historical evidence that the district was named for Robert E. Lee.
Still, the release said the general perception is that the name honors Lee. Name changes for that district and Sully District were recommended in March by the county’s Redistricting Advisory Committee.
While other officers like John Mosby have also been brought up for discussion, Lee has been an easy and iconic target for renaming. In 2019, Arlington renamed its Washington-Lee High School to Washington-Liberty, and Fairfax County Public Schools renamed Robert E. Lee High School for Rep. John Lewis in 2020.
Supervisor Rodney Lusk helped launch the renaming initiative last March and said it’s been an issue on his mind for years:
Back when I was a candidate, I heard from many in the community about their desire to have conversations about [the name]. For me, as an African American and a proud resident of this district for the past 22 years; whose lived my life, raised my two African American daughters under the signage of the Robert E. Lee Recreation Center, under the signage of Robert E. Lee High School, it’s been a conversation I’ve carried in my heart for many years, and I know that’s true for many others in our community… As we turn the page and continue to write the history of our community; we’re not erasing history, we’re making it.
Staff said much of the groundwork required for the name change has already been laid out. The last changes will be updates to the county’s GIS mapping and election precincts, which will all be completed this spring.
“Residents deserve a community that better reflects them,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said. “We can’t go back and change history, but we absolutely have a right to decide what it is in history we want to celebrate and what it is in history we want to learn from and do better.”
The county release said the renaming will also include:
- Lee District Rec Center, which is now known as the Franconia Rec Center
- Lee District Park is now called Franconia Park
- Lee High Park is now Lewis High Park
- Lee Residential Permit Parking District is now the Lewis Parking District
- Lee Community Parking District is now renamed the Franconia Parking District
The day after the Board of Supervisors vote, the Fairfax County Park Authority announced that its board had unanimously approved renaming three of its facilities:
- Lee High Park to Lewis High Park
- Lee District Rec Center to Franconia Rec Center
- Lee District Park to Franconia Park
A formal vote won’t come for another month, but several Fairfax County supervisors indicated support yesterday (Tuesday) for using routes 29 and 50, respectively, as the official names for the roads known for now as Lee and Lee-Jackson Memorial highways.
The Board of Supervisors directed county staff by a 9-1 vote to prepare a resolution for its next meeting on Sept. 13 endorsing Route 29 and Route 50 as the new names after a year-long review process that included a community task force and public surveys.
While route numbers don’t carry the same symbolism as Arlington County renaming its portion of Lee Highway after abolitionist John Langston, board members expressed hope that the move will reduce the confusion of navigating the county in addition to discarding reminders of the area’s Confederate past.
“Frankly, calling them by the route numbers is what a lot of people already do today voluntarily, so I don’t see this as a heavy lift at all for these two major corridors and I think will chart us a better course moving forward,” Chairman Jeff McKay said.
Evoking Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the highways were among 150 sites in the county with names whose Confederate origins were confirmed by a 2020 report from the Fairfax County History Commission. Combined, they represent over 20 miles of roadway from Chantilly on the county’s western end to the Falls Church border in the east.
Surveys of property and business owners in the corridor conducted this past spring found that they preferred the route numbers over the other options, which included following Arlington’s lead with Langston Blvd for Lee Highway.
“I think this is basically as close as we’re going to get to consensus on the names,” said Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn, who chairs the board’s transportation committee. “I think this is a very reasonable and practical way to address the challenge that we’re facing, and I think it’s a big step towards moving away from memorializing that time in history and some of those folks and really updating that.” Read More
Look Out for Spotted Lanternfly — “While there are still no sightings of the spotted lanternfly in Fairfax County, it is getting closer, and experts are on the lookout for it. This summer the invasive pest was found in nearby Loudoun County…The insect feasts on more than 70 plant species, though its preferred host is the tree-of-heaven.” [DPWES]
FCPD Detective Destroyed Evidence of Rape — Fairfax County police are reviewing dozens of unsolved sexual assault cases after the victim of a rape in 1995 learned that a detective had destroyed all physical evidence in her case, including the rape kit. Police now say they believe the woman’s account and that her case was handled inappropriately, but she says the department needs “to somehow be held accountable.” [The Washington Post]
Longtime Fairfax Symphony Leader Dies — “William Hudson, a pianist and conductor who led the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra for 36 years, establishing it as a leading regional orchestra in the capital area, died July 12 at his home in Vienna, Va. He was 89. The cause was atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, said his former wife, Denise Battistone.” [The Washington Post]
Tysons Corner Center Owner Reports Retail Resurgence — “Macerich…noted that distress in the retail industry has slowed dramatically after a pandemic-spurred wave of closures in 2020…Macerich said its leasing activity in the second quarter reflected retailer demand at levels not seen since 2015.” [CNBC]
Vienna Police Share Results of Increased Traffic Enforcement — “After a noticeable increase in stop sign violations, the Town of Vienna Police Department had a directed enforcement initiative during the month of June…During the Stop Sign Enforcement Campaign, officers worked a total of 469 events utilizing stationary observation of stop signs, which generated 219 stop sign violations and 74 other violations.” [Vienna Police]
Local Meal Service Company Gets New HQ — MightyMeals, an overnight meal delivery company that grew out of a Franconia restaurant in 2015, has leased a 16,000-square-foot commercial unit at 7669 Limestone Drive in Gainesville for its new corporate headquarters. The space is seven times larger than its current 2,400-square-foot cooking prep warehouse in Burke. [Washington Business Journal]
Signs for Renamed Vienna Street in Place — “Vienna officials have replaced street signs on the former Wade Hampton Drive with new ones reading ‘Liberty Lane.’ The switch was done in early July ‘with little fanfare’ (as requested by residents), town officials said in the government’s monthly newsletter.” [Sun Gazette]
Bus Planned to Upcoming Innovation Center Metro — “OmniRide is hoping to take advantage of the forthcoming 66 Outside the Beltway toll lanes, and for the first time, its passengers could be getting one-seat trips to the Dulles area by the end of the year. The transit provider is hoping to start a commuter route that would take riders from Balls Ford Road to the Innovation Center Silver Line Metro stop in December” [Inside NoVA/WTOP]
It’s Wednesday — Humid throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 71. Sunrise at 6:13 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]
Lee District has officially been consigned to the history books.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed yesterday (Tuesday) to adopt Franconia District as the new moniker for the magisterial district that represents portions of Springfield, Franconia, Kingstowne, and Hybla Valley.
Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said many residents associate the name of the district with positive memories there, such as the sound of footsteps on the boardwalk through Huntley Meadows, visions of the old gravel pits, or pride in the history of the Laurel Grove School.
“However for many, the name Lee District evokes another set of imagery, whether by design or by accident, and we may never know by which, the name stands as a lasting monument to the most recognizable Confederate figure in history,” he said.
Based on feedback from the community, Franconia was the most agreed-upon name.
“The name Franconia has always been central to our identity,” Lusk said. “It’s a name that makes sense, it’s a name that our community has embraced and it’s a name that memorializes a place and not a person.”
Lusk’s office confirmed that the new name “went into effect immediately” after the Board’s vote, but time will be needed to implement the change on signs, websites, social media accounts, and other entities that feature the district’s old name.
The approved board matter directed the county executive to initiate the process to change the name and report back to the board on administrative changes necessary to facilitate the change and a timeline for its adoption.
The board also voted to assign staff to reach out to businesses, nonprofits, community groups and other entities that may be impacted by the change and recommend possible strategies to support them.
“The exact timeline, cost, and scope will be determined through the County Executive’s review,” Lusk’s office said by email.
Just minutes earlier, the board also unanimously voted to call a new community center west of Richmond Highway the “Hybla Valley Community Center.”
Previously home to the Mount Vernon Athletic and Tennis Club, the building was purchased by the county in 2020 to be repurposed into the multiservice center meant to be “the epicenter of basic needs requests in all of South County.”
Lusk presented the motion to name the center at 7950 Audubon Avenue after getting public input at five community engagement sessions, he said.
“This community engagement effort was intentionally designed to reduce barriers to participation, create culturally appropriate engagement settings, and ensure that participation reflected those whose lives will be impacted by the decision,” Lusk said.
The center opened to the public on April 4, with a grand opening ceremony in May. It provides recreation services, youth programs and other resources for the Hybla Valley area in the Richmond Highway corridor.
“This community center is really an amazing place only in the very early stages of realizing its full potential, but one that I think is long overdue to the community,” Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck said.
Supervisor Rodney Lusk will recommend renaming “Lee District” to “Franconia District” at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).
“The time has come to change the name of Lee District,” Lusk said on Twitter over the weekend.
In a statement and video posted to his social media channels, Lusk explained that more than two years of discussions with the community revealed to him that an “overwhelming majority” of participants supported the name change.
He believes that the name Franconia is the right choice to replace Lee.
“Franconia is a name that is synonymous with our community,” he wrote. “From Franconia Road, the Franconia Springfield Metro, the Franconia Museum, and the Franconia Governmental Center, the name Fraconia has always been central to our identity. It is also a name that memorializes a place and not a person.”
My full statement on renaming Lee District to Franconia District: pic.twitter.com/nwr790No7M
— Rodney Lusk (@SupervisorLusk) June 26, 2022
Lusk will introduce a board matter at Tuesday’s meeting asking his fellow supervisors to vote in favor of the name change.
Back in March, the county’s Redistricting Advisory Committee recommended renaming both the Lee and Sully Districts due to the names’ historical ties to the Confederacy and slavery.
However, the committee’s report noted that the historical record is “somewhat inconclusive” about if the Lee District is actually named after Confederate general Robert E. Lee or another member of his family. Despite that, the committee still believed the name needs to change due to the confusion it could cause if left in place.
The committee also recommended a name change for the Sully District. That is named after the Sully Historic Site, a plantation once owned by Richard Bland Lee.
“Lee named the land he inherited Sully in 1789 and for twenty years under his charge the Sully Plantation was the location of commercial activity and profit from the kidnapping, human trafficking, and abuse of over one hundred lives — men, women and children,” the report read.
Sully District Supervisor Kathy Smith tells FFXnow they are still in the “process of gathering community feedback.” She says they held its first meeting to discuss a change earlier this month and “doesn’t want to rush” the process. There’s currently no timeline for when a name change recommendation might occur for the Sully District.
Lusk’s recommendation has already gotten at least one show of support so far, from state Sen. Scott Surovell (36).
I likewise believe that Franconia is the best new name for Lee District and applaud @SupervisorLusk for the process he utilized to arrive at this decision@KrizekForVA @Kaufax4Schools @MarkSicklesVA @SenDaveMarsden @AdamEbbin @GeorgeLBarker https://t.co/sdnhnzdlQA
— 🇺🇦Senator Scott Surovell 🇺🇦 (@ssurovell) June 26, 2022
At that moment, it’s unclear if a majority of the Board of Supervisors will vote along with Lusk to change the name from the Lee District to Franconia District, but Chairman Jeff McKay has signaled his support for such a move in the past.
County Seeks Feedback on Covid Response — While the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over, Fairfax County is starting to evaluate how it handled the crisis. The county government is conducting two surveys — one for the community and one for businesses — to gather feedback on people’s experiences. The surveys are available online and at county libraries until July 5. [Fairfax County Government]
Fairfax City Community to Weigh in on Street Renamings — “Fairfax City Council is hosting a public hearing at its regular meeting Tuesday night to solicit feedback on a proposal to rename 14 streets in the city whose current names are associated with the confederacy, slavery or the ‘Lost Cause.'” [Patch]
Trash Pile Fire Extinguished in Lorton — “Units are on scene of a large outside trash pile fire in the 9800 block of Furnace Road, Lorton. The fire is contained but crews are working to fully extinguish it.” [FCFRD/Twitter]
Learn the History of Juneteenth — Author and University of Maryland history professor Dr. Richard Bell will discuss the history and significance of Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery in the U.S. As of last night (Monday), there are still openings for the hour-long, virtual presentation, which will start at 6:30 p.m. and requires advance registration. [FCPL]
Lincolnia Fire Started by Unattended Cooking — A townhouse fire in the 4500 block of Southland Avenue on Friday (June 10) displaced five people and caused approximately $77,747 in damages. Investigators determined that the fire was started accidentally by “unattended food cooking on the stove” in the kitchen. [FCFRD]
Vienna Eases Rules for Roofs Over Decks — “The Vienna Town Council voted tonight to amend the zoning ordinance to enable homeowners to upgrade their outdoor living space by putting a roof over up to 400 square feet of a deck under certain conditions. For more details, visit http://viennava.gov/zoning.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
County Urges Vigilance for Signs of Child Abuse — “Fairfax County is asking community members to be on the lookout for possible signs of abuse and neglect, now that kids are out of class…Twana Johnson, assistant program manager, child abuse & neglect prevention services at the Department of Family Services, says as child supervision declines during summer months, so do calls to the hotline.” [WDVM]
FCPS Program Teaches Kids How to Ride Bicycles — “33 schools participate in the program, including both elementary schools — which typically have 30 bikes and 40 helmets on hand at a given time. [Safe Routes to Schools coordinator Sally] Smallwood estimates 10% to 20% of FCPS students in grades three to eight do not know how to ride a bike.” [ABC7]
It’s Tuesday — Rain in the morning. High of 83 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]
Metro Leaders Step Down — Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld and Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader resigned, effective immediately, last night (Monday) after the transit agency pulled 72 operators for failing to recertify. Wiedefeld had been set to leave on June 30 but says he wanted to “provide a more timely transition to Interim General Manager Andy Off.” [WMATA]
Mosby Woods Residents Split Over Possible Street Renamings — “The increasingly diverse neighborhood named after Confederate army battalion commander John S. Mosby…is another battleground, with the [Fairfax] City Council set to decide in June whether nine streets in Mosby Woods should be called something else.” [The Washington Post]
Pipe Replacement to Disrupt Wolf Trap Area Traffic — “Lawyers Road (Route 673) just south of Carhill Road will have one lane of alternating traffic in each direction via flagging Tuesday, May 17 through Wednesday, May 18, between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day to replace a stormwater pipe…Through traffic will be detoured via Garrett Street, Trott Avenue, Vale Road, Hunter Mill Road and back to Lawyers” [VDOT]
Police Share Details on I-95 Crash — “The woman who died in last week’s fatal three-vehicle crash on Interstate 95 in Springfield, Virginia, was identified Monday by Virginia State Police….Speed and driver distraction are being investigated as contributing factors in the crash.” [WTOP]
Herndon IT Company Bought for $4.2B — “Herndon information technology contractor ManTech International Corp. (NASDAQ: MANT) said Monday morning it has agreed to be acquired by D.C. private equity powerhouse The Carlyle Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CG) in an all-cash transaction valued at $4.2 billion.” [Washington Business Journal]
Decision Nears on Lake Accotink Dredging — Fairfax County will make a final decision “in just weeks” on how to address sediment build-up in Springfield’s Lake Accotink. The options currently on the table would transport the sediment to a nearby industrial park or pipe it to Wakefield Park, where it would then be taken to a quarry via I-495, raising environmental and traffic concerns. [ABC7]
Reston Association’s Pool Season Underway — “Our Pools season has officially started! Check out these scenes from opening weekend at North Shore and Lake Audubon! Thanks to all who came out! We’re ready to have an amazing summer at the Pools!” [RA/Twitter]
Bear Sightings Might Become More Common — “Due to warmer weather, bears are beginning to move throughout the county. Be safe by securing your trash cans and bird feeders, reducing the likelihood of on of our hairy friends popping up in your community.” [Pat Herrity/Twitter]
It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 73 and low of 58. Sunrise at 5:56 am and sunset at 8:18 pm. [Weather.gov]