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Fairfax County faces a marginal risk of flash flooding from Hurricane Ian (via NOAA)

(Updated at 11:20 p.m.) An October weekend once filled with fall events is starting to clear out, as Fairfax County braces for Hurricane Ian.

The storm that devastated Florida after making landfall on Wednesday (Sept. 28) is expected to weaken as it heads north, but its rain and winds could still prove dangerous, the Fairfax County Department of Emergency Management and Security (DEMS) warns.

According to the department, remnants of Hurricane Ian are projected to arrive tonight (Friday), bringing scattered flooding and strong winds:

  • Scattered localized flooding is possible from rain. Overall, we are not expecting significant flooding impacts from this event. The rainfall totals are expected to be between 1″-2″ with a high end of 3″ over the three day period of Friday through Sunday. A rumble of thunder may enter the area early Saturday morning, but no significant thunderstorm threat is expected.
  • Winds will be sustained at 15-20 mph with gusts between 20-30 mph throughout the weekend.
  • Tidal anomalies of 1-2 feet are possible, but no significant tidal flooding for Fairfax County is expected.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a State of Emergency earlier this week, giving the state authority to mobilize resources in preparation for the storm.

Several events planned across the county for tomorrow (Saturday) have already been canceled or rescheduled, with organizers citing the impending inclement weather. Others are still monitoring conditions before making a determination.

The McLean Project for the Arts pulled the plug on its annual MPAartfest on Wednesday, though the 2022 McLean 5K is still on for now.

“This is a rain or shine event, we have no plans to cancel,” McLean Community Center General Programs Director Mike Fisher said. “If we do cancel, that decision will be made in the moment as a result of on the ground conditions at the event site.”

Reston Community Center’s first-ever Silent Dance Party at Reston Station has been postponed to 5 p.m. on Oct. 9, while Reston Association announced yesterday (Thursday) that its popular Reston Community Yard Sale has moved to next Saturday, Oct. 8.

This morning, the Town of Vienna officially canceled tomorrow’s Oktoberfest, which drew more than 35,000 visitors last year. The Fall Native Plant Sale has been bumped to Oct. 8.

Both Fairfax County Park Authority events set for tomorrow have been altered. Bug Fest at Lewinsville Park in McLean has been postponed to Oct. 22, but Buktertoberfest at Burke Lake Golf Course has been canceled.

In Fairfax City, the Out of Darkness Walk to raise awareness about suicide and mental health impacts is currently still a go, but the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says it will provide an update by 5 p.m. if that changes.

Map via NOAA

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Morning Notes

Clouds loom over the Tysons Metro station (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fare-Free Connector to Metrorail Transfers Start Tomorrow — “To continue to improve transit service in Fairfax County, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved service and fare changes on Fairfax Connector that will go into effect on October 1, 2022. Members of the public provided input on these proposed service changes in the Spring of 2022″ [Fairfax Connector]

County IT Worker Arrested for Embezzlement — A 43-year-old Maryland man allegedly embezzled more than 150 Wi-Fi routers from the Fairfax County Department of Information and Technology. DIT employees reported 178 missing Mist Wi-Fi Access point routers to police on Sept. 13. The county has placed the man on administrative leave during the investigation. [FCPD]

Hybla Valley Fire Displaced 35 People — An attic exhaust fan’s wiring sparked a fire on Saturday (Sept. 24) at a three-story apartment in the 7500 block of Republic Court that displaced 35 residents. Fairfax County and Alexandria firefighters were dispatched to the blaze at 10:59 p.m. No injuries were reported, but the fire resulted in approximately $321,250 in damages. [FCFRD]

Family of Rose Hill Man Charged with Killing Father Speaks — “Sherif and Tarik Hassanein are devastated they lost their brother and father on the same day. They’re also angry at the system because they said Samy is bipolar and a paranoid schizophrenic who was never given the proper treatment.” [FOX5]

GMU Approves Tuition Cost Relief — “George Mason University leaders agreed on Thursday to ease tuition costs this year, approving a credit for in-state undergraduate students that offsets the 3 percent increase that went into place this fall. The pivot came amid strong messages from Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) to public universities to hold college tuition steady this year to ease the impact of inflation on Virginia families.” [The Washington Post]

Police Shares Video of Recent West Springfield ATM Burglaries — “Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) detectives have been investigating several commercial ATM burglaries occurring in Fairfax County and surrounding jurisdictions. FCPD is asking community members to help identify these suspects.” [FCPD]

Rehab Proposal for Historic West Falls Church House Paused — “The resident curator application for the White Gardens is on hold, but cannot be considered dead, according to Park Authority officials…The only resident curator applicant, Meg Stout, proposed having her daughter’s family live there rather than herself,” though the site was given to Fairfax County on the condition be turned into a public garden. [Annandale Today]

Affordable Housing Nonprofit Adds Hybla Valley Condos — “Today I was thrilled to attend the Shepherd Housing & Family Services ribbon cutting ceremony where we celebrated the acquisition of their 85th housing unit thanks to a $2 million gift from @amazon. Thank you @GoodHousingOrg for all that you do for our residents.” [Jeff McKay/Twitter]

County Businesses Make Noise — “Twenty Fairfax County-based companies and 14 companies based in additional Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance jurisdictions out of 50 companies placed on the Washington Business Journal’s 2022 list of Fastest Growing Companies in Greater Washington, D.C.” [Fairfax County EDA]

It’s Friday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 62 and low of 54. Sunrise at 7:05 am and sunset at 6:54 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Students wear and wave Pride flags at Fairfax High School’s walkout (photo by Carys Owens)

(Updated, 3:20 p.m.) Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay believes the county will be on “safe legal ground” if it chooses to not follow Virginia’s recently-proposed model policies that would limit the rights of transgender and other gender-nonconforming students.

Based on conversations with the school board, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), and legal experts since the draft policies were unveiled earlier this month, McKay senses the school system will ultimately stick with its current policies, he told FFXnow yesterday (Wednesday).

The proposed policies would reverse regulations that FCPS adopted in 2020 affirming students’ right to access restrooms according to their gender identity and be called by their chosen names and pronouns. The regulation was updated last year based on state recommendations.

“If we do it and ignore [what] the governor is dictating here…my prediction based on everything I’m hearing is that the legal folks will say you’re on safe legal ground to continue the good practices that you have in place and not adhere to these new ones. That’s certainly what I’m being told preliminarily,” McKay told FFXnow.

McKay noted that, as has been reported elsewhere, legal experts have identified a myriad of legal problems” with the new proposed policies, including protections from discrimination based on gender identity in the Virginia Human Rights Act.

The cities of Falls Church and Alexandria have already indicated that they won’t adhere to the state policies. State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), who represents parts of Fairfax County, Alexandria, and Arlington County, told FFXnow on Tuesday (Sept. 27) that there could be basis for a lawsuit.

“I think there’s existing law problems. I think there’s case law problems. I think there’s political problems,” McKay said. “And so, my suspicion is that we will likely be able to continue doing what we’re doing.”

The governor may be relying on the Dillon Rule as the rationale for arguing counties must adhere to the guidelines, if they’re adopted, McKay says.

Under that rule, localities only have legal authorities expressly granted to them by the state, but that doesn’t absolve the governor from the “obligation of being consistent with case law that’s already been established,” he said.

When asked whether the school system plans on taking legal action if the policies are adopted by the state, an FCPS spokesperson said they have no comment for now beyond a message that Superintendent Michelle Reid sent to families earlier this month, stating that FCPS was reviewing the draft policies.

“We will share more information when it is available,” the spokesperson said. Read More

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The anticipated groundbreaking is officially on pause (via Comstock)

The redevelopment of downtown Herndon by Reston-based developer Comstock has been officially been put on pause.

But Fairfax County’s commitment to provide $6.2 million remains unchanged, according to the county.

The plan would redevelop nearly 5 acres of land into a mixed-use project with 273 apartments and roughly 17,000 square feet of retail. An arts center and a 726-space parking garage are also part of the project.

“The market pause has delayed when those payments are expected to be made between the County and the Town due to the construction delays pushing out the previously mentioned payment triggers. The overall obligation remains in place for the County to provide those payments to the Town when those phases are met,” said Scott Sizer, catalytic development division manager of the Fairfax County Department of Economic initiatives.

The county offered two pledges for the public-private partnership. The first agreement of $1.2 million — approved in 2018 — kicks in when Comstock and the Town of Herndon have contributed at least $1.2 million in value for the construction work.

Sizer says that’s expected to happen after building construction begins.

The second agreement states that the county’s contribution of $5 million will happen after the first residential structure gets its first occupant. The payment — which will likely take place at the end of site construction and the beginning of operations of the apartments — will include annual payments over five years, Sizer said.

A spokesperson for Comstock told FFXnow that no timeline is currently available for when the project might begin.

The project, which was expected to break ground nearly two years ago, could be on pause for up to two years, the town stated in July.

The cost of the $101 million project increased by $25 million due to issues related to materials, labor, and workforce restrictions caused by the pandemic, according to town officials.

In addition to support from the county, Comstock will receive $2.5 million in fee reductions and $1.9 million in real estate tax breaks through an ordinance that was established after the town approved the project.

The project has been marred by delays since its inception. Groundbreaking was originally planned for December 2019.

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Rehab 2 Perform

Your new physical therapy and sports rehab experts in Tysons Corner.

Rehab 2 Perform is bringing their fitness focused physical therapy company to Tysons Corner!

R2P serves the community with a modern approach to Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab. Providing a personalize plan of care with 1-on-1 sessions, Rehab 2 Perform sees an array of clients ages 8 to 88 ranging from the active adult, competitive athlete, and those just looking to be more active.

The new location, just off 495 and Leesburg Pike, features an open concept that feels more like a gym and an athletic training room rather than a medical office, and provides an amazing atmosphere that is engaging and welcoming.

Whether it is the daily aches and pains, or a major injury from overtraining or playing sports, their experienced staff focuses more on movement, providing the education to reduce the risk of re-injury, and empowering you to lead a healthier and active lifestyle.

Check out what Rehab 2 Perform has to offer and how they can get you back in the gym, on the field of play, or just chasing the children in the backyard pain free! Accepting all major insurances, including Tricare, R2P will have you Ready 2 Perform for Life.

Learn more at Rehab2Perform.com, or Schedule a FREE Injury Consult Here. And check out their Free Guides & Resources to help you Perform Now!

The first major renovations to Reston Town Center’s in 30 years are well underway, with the pavilion set to reopen later this year.

A spokesperson for Boston Properties says the opening of the pavilion is anticipated “sometime in November with the return the ice rink for the winter season.”

“The Fountain Plaza and Pavilion rehabilitation and renovation work at Reston Town Center has made significant progress since commencing in March 2022,” Sapna Yathiraj, Boston Properties’ marketing director, wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

The Fountain Plaza is also slated to open later this year, although an exact timeline was not immediately available.

The upgrades are led by Alan Ward, a principal at Sasaki Associates. As previously reported the enhancements include:

The Pavilion

Two fire pits in front of the Pavilion adjacent to Market Street will add to the holiday and cooler months’ experience

Large fans will help cool the space during warmer months for both formal and informal gatherings

An expansion through the service street adjacent to the Hyatt will create more flexibility and space for programming, events, and daily activations
A wooden deck that will serve as a seating area and a stage for smaller events and performances

Additional seating areas in the artificial turf area during warm months

Other

The fountain: Renovation of the lower base area, with new tiling, expanded seating, and tiered landscaping, and replacement of the entire outdated mechanical system. The original design of the upper base and Mercury statue will remain unchanged.

New trees and plantings to replace aged greenery and damaged root systems

Expansion of outdoor seating, including stadium-style structures and traditional tables and chairs

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The Fairfax County Department of Transportation advertises the coming opening of Metro’s Silver Line extension at the Mosaic District Fall Festival (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 9:40 a.m. on 9/30/2022) Metro’s extension of the Silver Line through Herndon into Loudoun County is finally starting to look like a reality, instead of a hypothetical, albeit expensive, project.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority unveiled new maps for its rail system last Friday (Sept. 23) that featured the six new stations, among other changes. A day earlier, its general manager got the go-ahead to set an opening date, though one has yet to be announced.

Coming six years after its initial projected opening of 2016, Silver Line Phase 2 will bring the D.C. region’s subway system into Loudoun for the first time, with stops at Dulles International Airport and Ashburn. Along the way, trains will pass through Reston Town Center, Herndon, and Innovation Center in the Dulles area.

Despite frustrations with the project’s many delays, Fairfax County officials remain hopeful that the rail line’s arrival will be a boon for residents and businesses in Reston and Herndon, fueling growth akin to what Tysons has seen since the Silver Line’s first phase opened there in 2014.

Are you excited to enter the shiny new Silver Line stations, potentially as soon as next month? Or have Metro’s ongoing safety and reliability issues turned you off of the transit system for now?

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Morning Notes

The office building at 1600 Tysons Blvd reflects the sky (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

State of Emergency in Virginia for Hurricane — “Governor Glenn Youngkin today declared a State of Emergency in advance of Hurricane Ian, which is expected to impact portions of Virginia starting on Friday, September 30, 2022…Virginians should be prepared for the potential of severe rainfall, flooding, wind damage, tornadoes, and other storm-related impacts.” [Governor of Virginia]

Burke VRE Station Gets Longer Platform — Fairfax County officials cut a ribbon yesterday (Wednesday) to celebrate the completion of a platform expansion project at the Virginia Railway Express Rolling Road Station. With an added 290 feet, the platform can now fit eight-car trains, reducing passenger loading times. [Jeff McKay, James Walkinshaw, Pat Herrity/Twitter]

Kingstowne Man Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement — “A Fairfax County, Virginia, man has pleaded guilty to embezzling $4 million in what authorities described as one of the largest white-collar fraud cases in the county’s history. Carlos Camacho, 59, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one felony count each of embezzlement and forgery, according to Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano.” [WTOP]

McLean Arts Festival Canceled by Hurricane Ian — “We have made the difficult decision to cancel our 2022 MPAartfest, scheduled for Sun, Oct 2 in McLean Central Park. The decision was made in anticipation of the 2-3 inches of rain projected to inundate the area this weekend.” [McLean Project for the Arts/Twitter]

Tax Credit Journal Recognizes County’s Affordable Housing Work — “The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) and Fairfax County were recently featured in the August edition of The Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits, highlighting their collective and unprecedented work in developing public-private partnerships to more effectively deliver affordable housing.” [Housing and Community Development]

Public Input Sought on New Parks Strategy — “The Fairfax County Park Authority is developing a Parks, Recreation, Open Space, and Access Strategy (PROSA)…The PROSA Strategy is anticipated to be completed in 2023 and will provide a pathway toward improved park access and a balance of recreational experiences.” [FCPA]

Vienna Honors Local Workers — Vienna bestowed its first-ever Outstanding Service Awards on Monday (Sept. 26) to opthamologist Ann Dunning, who has worked at Mitchell Eye Institute for 50 years, and Foster’s Grille Assistant General Manager Nancy Nichols, who has worked at the restaurant for over 20 years. The award was created to “recognize local business employees who have provided significant customer service to the Vienna community.” [Town of Vienna]

Learn About Medicare at Thomas Jefferson Library — “Medicare 101 training is for individuals and their care partners who will soon be eligible for Medicare or have Medicare and would like to learn more about it…This free class is taught by Fairfax County staff who are non-biased, state certified and SHIP (State Health Insurance and Assistance Program) Counselors.” [FCPL]

It’s Thursday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 68 and low of 51. Sunrise at 7:04 am and sunset at 6:56 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Steve Steiner, a 73-year-old cyclist who lives in Reston’s Hunters Woods neighborhood, nearly lost his life when he was cycling from Leesburg nearly four years ago.

Steiner was hit by an SUV that was turning right through a red signal onto Fairfax County Parkway at the exit for the Dulles Toll Road. Despite trying to veer to the right, he was struck by the car, suffering a concussion, several broken ribs and other serious internal injuries, he said.

“An incident like this buries deep into your psyche and your brain,” Steiner said.

The crash resulted in $100,000 in medical expenses and months of recovery — an ordeal that he hopes no one else has to face.

Steiner spoke yesterday morning (Tuesday) at the launch of a countywide campaign called “Take a Moment” that aims to eliminate traffic-related deaths and injuries. Fairfax County officials hope that the communications campaign will encourage residents, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to take a moment to pause before making decisions on roadways and paths.

The county also plans to commit $100 million over the next six years for pedestrian safety efforts in the county — a figure that includes $25 million in carryover funds.

“It’s so important that we mention this is a team effort and not just an effort of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors,” said Jeff McKay, the board chair.

The press conference took place at a busy intersection in Reston where a pedestrian and cyclist bridge is currently under construction at Wiehle Avenue.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn noted that tackling traffic issues is particularly important given the expected opening of phase two of Metro’s Silver Line this fall.

He said the pedestrian bridge currently under construction remedies issues with a particularly “challenging” area of Wiehle Avenue. Work is expected to wrap up by the beginning of 2024.

To date, 13 pedestrian have been killed in crashes and accidents on county roadways — despite crashes overall being reduced by more than 400, according to Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis. The number of pedestrian fatalities is three more than this time last year.

“It deserves our constant attention,” he said.

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Research shows that practicing savoring positive experiences can improve your life satisfaction, resilience, and overall happiness.

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

When you’re having a good day, or even a good moment, do you savor it?

If so, you are actively boosting your overall happiness and even your health. Savoring is defined as the ability to notice positive experiences and engage in thoughts and behaviors that enhance your enjoyment of the experience.

“We don’t always take the time to notice good things that are happening in our lives. Savoring is a way to make the most of positive experiences,” says Jennifer Smith, PhD, director of research at Mather Institute, an award-winning resource for research and information about wellness, aging and trends in senior living. The Institute is the research arm of Mather, the organization that is bringing The Mather, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better, to Tysons, Virginia.

Dr. Smith has conducted several studies on savoring, and one involved surveying 267 older adults to measure their savoring, life satisfaction and self-reported health. “We found that the relationship between self-reported health and satisfaction with life was different for people with high and low savoring abilities,” she says.

“When savoring ability was low, people reported lower life satisfaction when their health was poor. However, those with a high ability to savor reported significantly greater satisfaction with life — even when they were in poor health. This suggests that the ability to savor positive experiences can help people respond more resiliently to health challenges.”

The good news is that you can practice savoring and strengthen your ability to pay attention to positive experiences, appreciate enjoyable or meaningful experiences and build positive feelings. Savoring does not necessarily have to occur during an event — it can occur when you anticipate an upcoming positive event or imagine a future happiness. Savoring can also take place when you reminisce about a past positive event, or when you recall how you felt during a happy experience.

Dr. Smith’s research showed that older adults who practiced simple five-minute savoring exercises twice a day for six or seven days reported higher resilience, greater happiness and lower depression compared to those who didn’t fully complete the exercise. There were three steps to the savoring exercise:

1. Think about a positive experience
2. Pay attention to positive feelings that arise
3. Take a moment to appreciate the experience

Find Your Happy Place

Residents of Life Plan Communities may not have to work as hard at savoring exercises: research shows that they have higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction than other people. The findings, based on surveys of 4,100+ residents in 122 Life Plan Communities around the US, are from the Age Well Study conducted by Mather Institute.

Released in 2021, the Age Well Study findings include:

  • Those who are satisfied with their daily life and leisure activities report greater overall happiness.
  • The personality traits of extroversion and agreeableness are both linked to greater happiness and life satisfaction.
  • People are happier and more satisfied when they have a greater sense of community belonging.
  • Approximately 92% of respondents were highly satisfied with the place where they live.

The Mather, projected to open in Tysons, VA, in 2024 for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be.

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