The cross atop the former Faith Baptist Church in Vienna will come down, but otherwise, the town has opted for a “wait and see” approach to the 3-acre property it purchased in 2020.
The Vienna Town Council unanimously voted on Aug. 29 to indefinitely postpone repairs to the roof of the aging building at 301 Center Street South.
While staff argued that improvements are needed to stop recurring water leaks, council members balked at the idea of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into a building that they could ultimately decide to demolish.
“I would like to do the absolute minimum, even if that does cause some further damage to the building, rather than commit a lot of money,” Councilmember Chuck Anderson said. “If you spend a half million dollars on a roof, psychologically, you’re committed to that building, and I personally have not reached the conclusion that the best use for that property involves some sort of rehabilitation and repurposing of the existing structure.”
Built in 1956, per Fairfax County property records, the former church — now informally dubbed the Annex — will require substantial renovations to meet current building code standards and get approved for occupancy, a study by Whitman, Requardt & Associates, LLP found.
Though town staff are making spot repairs as leaks and other problems emerge, Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman requested the council’s support last week to replace the roof, either as a whole or in parts.
“Addressing the flat roof is the most pressing, current issue to ensure that the Annex does not incur further damage and deterioration due to the leaks,” Herman said. “There are issues on the shingled, sloped roof that will need attention in the very near future.”
Replacing the flat roof alone could cost $122,000 to $228,400, staff estimated. New rooftop HVAC units and removing the sanctuary windows would add $90,000 to the bill.
The cost of a complete roof overhaul ranges from $293,200 to $443,400, including up to $15,000 to take down the church steeple.
Whitman Requardt estimated that it would take up to $1 million to bring the building up to code and make it suitable for community uses. Herman noted that construction and supply costs have climbed since that study was first presented to the council in March.
When asked if the roof could hold up for another year without repairs, Vienna Facility Manager Leon Evans said he believes it could, but there’s no guarantee.
“I just got finished with the HVAC system that just failed in the sanctuary today,” he told the council. “All I was asked was to get numbers for you so you guys could figure out what direction you want to go.”
After some debate and confusion over the difference between the flat and sloped parts of the roof, the council decided to remove the church’s cross but hold repairs until after the completion of a feasibility report commissioned on June 13.
Expected to begin this fall and finish in spring 2023, the report will recommend long-term options for the Annex, which is housing the police department until its now-open station is ready for officers to move in later this month.
For now, parks and rec staff may need to keep buckets and tarp handy to deal with those pesky roof leaks. Mayor Linda Colbert acknowledged that the repairs deferral wasn’t what staff had hoped for.
“There’s just a lot of questions still,” Colbert said. “I would hate to vote on something now and not have it be the right thing. You’re right we’re taking a risk.”
The McLean Community Center has a water problem, and it will take about $100,000 in repairs to fix it.
The MCC governing board unanimously approved that funding on March 10 for a roof repair project deemed “urgent” by the board’s Capital Facilities Committee.
A pre-construction meeting with Function Enterprises, the Springfield-based company enlisted as the vendor, is scheduled for the end of April, MCC Director of Marketing and Communications Sabrina Anwah told FFXnow.
The bulk of the project focuses replacing a section of roof that mirrors the hallway to the facility’s Susan B. DuVal Studio. The replacement will cost $82,500, according to a vendor quote.
“This is where we have most of our recurring issues with water getting inside the building,” MCC staff said in an explanation of the quote.
According to staff, the remaining $16,580 will be used for repairs “that can improve our overall roof quality without the need to do a full replacement.” Identified issues include hallway leaks and a clogged roof drain that needs to be cleaned out.
The roofing challenges come a little over three years after MCC unveiled its $8 million renovation of the facility at 1234 Ingleside Avenue.
According to MCC, the existing roof was not a part of the renovation, but “several roofing deficiencies” were found near the end of that project.
“Those items couldn’t be addressed due to scope, budget and timeline issues,” MCC Facilities Manager Joe McGovern told FFXnow by email. “To begin addressing these issues, only a very small portion of the roof is being replaced.”
MCC chose Function Enterprises as the vendor for the repairs at Fairfax County’s recommendation, since the contractor was brought on to finish the renovation in 2018, staff said at a Capital Facilities Committee meeting on March 10.
“[Function Enterprises] recognized issues then and stated that they should take more time to complete due diligence, but the county instructed them to only address the contracted scope,” McGovern said, according to the meeting minutes. “And thus, this is part of the reason we are now experiencing/realizing issues.”
Fairfax County drivers are no strangers to potholes during the winter, but residents felt conditions were becoming especially egregious along a stretch of Braddock Road in Lincolnia, including near Parklawn Elementary School.
After airing their concerns on Nextdoor, they turned to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Residents noticed this week that at least one large pothole was filled in.
“There was a large major pothole (the Grand Canyon) for weeks, which I noticed just today was filled,” resident Steph Bates told FFXnow on Tuesday (March 8). “I drive that stretch each day, and there are many, many smaller potholes still.”
“We are aware of the issues along Braddock Road,” VDOT spokesperson Ellen Kamilakis said in an email. “Crews have been out this week patching potholes.”
VDOT encourages people to contact its Customer Service Center about road issues. Kamilakis said pothole repair work there is continuing.
VDOT maintains roads throughout most of the Commonwealth, including interstates and primary routes. Other roads are maintained by cities, towns and some counties.
Adopted by the General Assembly in 1932, the Byrd Road Act permitted counties to pass responsibility to Virginia’s Highway Commission, later renamed the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Four counties chose to retain their authority, but only Arlington and Henrico counties have maintained that decision.
Resident Carolyn Spencer, who submitted a maintenance ticket, thinks VDOT is responsive, especially with quick fixes and Americans with Disabilities Act issues.
“I’m a big believer in telling people when I notice something wrong,” Spencer told FFXnow. “If nobody reports problems, they will never get fixed.”
But for more in-depth policy and planning issues, such as concerns about traffic back-ups, inquiries can involve contractors and end up unanswered, she wrote.
It wasn’t immediately clear when and whether VDOT plans to repave the portion of Braddock Road under scrutiny.
“That stretch seems worse than other places I drive,” Bates wrote, adding that problems are “on both sides of the yellow line, with very narrow ability to dodge.”