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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of the lower base area, with new tiling, expanded seating, and tiered landscaping, and replacement of the entire outdated mechanical system.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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A Fairfax County voting machine in use during the June 2021 primary election (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Early voting for the next general election has just gotten underway, but Fairfax County’s elections staff is already planning for next year and beyond.

The county’s Office of Elections has requested $5 million to launch a multi-year rollout of new, updated voting machines as part of a $190 million spending package carried over from fiscal year 2022, which ended on June 30.

Expected to start in 2023, the process will replace more than 1,200 machines owned by the county, according to Fairfax County Office of Elections spokesperson Brian Worthy. The existing machines are now eight years old.

“While the machines are secure, function well and meet current standards, the Office of Elections will replace them to keep up with technology changes, as well as meet new federal security guidelines that will become the standard in the near future,” Worthy said.

The voting machine replacement plan is one of several initiatives covered by the FY 2022 carryover review, which uses surplus funds to address previously approved or new, one-time budget items.

Buoyed by higher-than-anticipated revenue from staff vacancies and close spending management, per an Aug. 1 memo from County Executive Bryan Hill, the package includes a net total of 30 new positions, 27 of them for the upcoming South County Animal Shelter.

The animal shelter positions are needed to ensure the facility is staffed for an expected opening in May, Chief Financial Officer Christian Jackson told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ budget policy committee on Sept. 20.

The proposal raised some eyebrows, since it will require ongoing funding.

“We have traditionally been very, very disciplined about using carryover for recurring expenses,” Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross said. “30 is a lot [of positions].”

Jackson reassured the committee that the carryover will allocate $1.9 million to fill the positions for part of a year, but full-time funding of $2.9 million will be included in the county’s next proposed budget, which is typically presented in February each year.

Other notable items in the carryover review include:

  • $10.3 million for environmental initiatives, including electric vehicles and charging stations as well as LED streetlight replacements
  • $3.5 million for an expanded child care center at the Original Mount Vernon High School
  • $2.58 million for employee pay and benefits
  • $2.5 million to establish a Tysons anchor organization
  • $5 million for Fairfax County Park Authority capital projects
  • About $13.2 million for facility improvements, including the demolition of two Historic Courthouse wings and a long-term design for the Hybla Valley Community Center

The Board of Supervisors has also proposed using remaining unallocated money to help bring permanent restrooms to local high school stadiums, improve sidewalks to Huntley Meadows Park, enhance trails in Gum Springs, and hire a data scientist for the board auditor’s office.

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity requested that the county address police staffing shortages with a $2.5 million reserve for one-time hiring bonuses. He also proposed letting employees defer retirement for two more years and enabling the police chief to hire retired officers.

Jackson said employees can only use the deferred retirement option for up to three years, but the current average is less than two years. She also said retired police officers can already be hired for a limited amount of time, since otherwise, they’d have to un-retire.

The board will vote on the carryover review after a public hearing on Oct. 11.

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Fairfax County police car lights (file photo)

An Alexandria man was convicted earlier this month in connection with a series of armed gas station and convenience store robberies in Herndon.

Rashawn Perkins, 28, allegedly wore a ski mask and used a firearm during four robberies over five weeks, according to court documents.

“The evidence established that Perkins robbed a 7-Eleven on December 30, 2021 and a Sunoco on January 19, 2022. The evidence further proved that on February 5, 2022, Perkins returned to both locations and robbed them at gunpoint again,” the Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a Sept. 23 release.

According to court documents, Perkins — who previously had been convicted of three felony offenses — threw a firearm out of his bedroom window when the Fairfax County Police Department executed a search warrant for his home.

“Evidence at the trial established that this was the same firearm Perkins used to commit several of the robberies,” the release said.

Perkins faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 28 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment when sentenced on Jan. 12, 2023.

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Morning Notes

The sun sets on Vienna’s future Chase Bank, now under construction (photo by Amy Woolsey)

Board Chair Calls on Youngkin to Withdraw Trans Student Policies — “I am so proud of the FCPS students who today stood together in support of their transgender classmates who are under threat by the proposed Model Policies. I joined the ~20,000 others providing comments to the Youngkin Administration stating my strong opposition to these Policies” [Jeff McKay/Twitter]

Teachers’ Union Also Opposes Proposed Policies — “Our union firmly opposes the VDOE 2022 Model Policies which will create an unsafe school environment for trans and nonbinary students if implemented. We urge our members to submit public comments against these proposed policies here” [Fairfax County Federation of Teachers/Twitter]

Herndon Father and Son Charged with Rape — “On Sept. 11, police charged 45-year-old Alexander Alvarado Sanchez of Herndon with rape, sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, and indecent liberties with a child. Police also charged Sanchez’s son, 21-year-old David Isai Alvarado Requeno of Leesburg, with rape, sodomy, and indecent liberties, according to police.” [Patch]

Stratford University Students Protest Impending Closures — “Over 100 Stratford University students packed the school’s Alexandria campus Monday afternoon, looking for answers about their future after the for-profit college announced Friday that it would be closing all three of its local campuses by the end of the week…Falls Church-based Stratford has campuses in Woodbridge and Baltimore in addition to Alexandria.” [Inside NoVA]

County Gets 41 More Housing Vouchers — “U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge, visited Fairfax County to announce the most expansive allocation of flexible rental assistance in 20 years with the award of more than 19,000 new Housing Choice Vouchers to almost 2,000 public housing authorities across the country.” [Housing and Community Development]

Task Force Recommends Preserving Manufactured Homes — “On September 19, the Fairfax County Manufactured Housing Task Force delivered its recommendations to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for the preservation of the county’s approximately 1,750 manufactured homes as well as tools and strategies to address the unique needs and challenges facing the community owners and families who live there. [HCD]

Fairfax Fall Festival Returns Next Month — “The 46th Annual Fall Festival returns to the heart of Fairfax City Oct. 8. The festival runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a special performance by the high-energy Celtic band, Scythian, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Old Town Square. Admission is free!” [City of Fairfax]

Reston Comp Plan Info Session Tomorrow — “Reston Association is hosting a drop-in information session from 6:30-9:30 p.m., on Thursday, for residents to stop by and learn more about the Reston Comprehensive Plan Review. Members of the RA Board and other representatives will be available to share information an answer questions about the plan.” [Patch]

It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 67 and low of 50. Sunrise at 7:03 am and sunset at 6:57 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Across Fairfax County and Virginia, thousands of students walked out today (Tuesday) in protest of proposed state policies that would limit schools’ ability to support transgender and other gender-nonconforming students.

Students from more than 90 schools, including nearly 30 in Fairfax County, took a stand against policies introduced earlier this month by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin regulating everything from which bathroom a student can use to the definition of “the phrase ‘transgender student.'”

The walkout protests were organized by the Pride Liberation Project, a student-led organization that advocates for the LQBTQ+ community in schools. The group aims to persuade the governor to revoke the draft policies, which are now open for public comment through Oct. 26.

Since the policies were announced more than a week ago, local school districts, board members, and elected officials have questioned and overwhelmingly come out against policies that would severely curtail the rights of and support that school districts can give transgender students.

Fairfax County Public Schools said last week that it was “reviewing” the proposed policies and reiterated a commitment to supporting LGBTQ students.

Today, though, it was students’ turn to make their voices heard.

At West Potomac High School in Belle Haven, an estimated 1,000 students walked out at 10 a.m. in protest. They filed into bleachers on the football field, while speakers shared their experiences and why they personally would be affected by the new policies.

“As a trans [person], I have been discriminated against for my gender identity and was told it was wrong. That I was wrong,” said a West Potomac High School senior. “These policies are just a new case of this happening.”

“I can’t be a student if I don’t know what name my teacher is going to call me,” said another student.

Mara Surovell, one of the lead organizers for the West Potomac High School walkout, hopes it will encourage Youngkin to not implement the policies or, at the very least, allow school districts the authority to continue to implement their own guidance.

“Most of my friends are transgender and my sister is also transgender. So it affects all people I love. And I don’t want any of my friends to feel like school is an unsafe place,” Surovell told FFXnow. “I don’t want to see…their mental health plummet because of these policies, and I really just want them to feel safe and loved, and I don’t think that’ll happen if these policies get approved.”

Students involved in walkouts at South Lakes High School in Reston and Marshall High School in Idylwood shared similar thoughts.

Rishi Chandra, a South Lakes junior, said that he has personally seen how well trans and nonbinary students can do in school when they feel safe, but if the new policies get approved, they will “harm queer students.” Read More

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A map of responses from the communities surrounding the Reston National Golf Course. Black means opposed to re-opening comprehensive plan, blue is support of an open, public process, and orange means reconsider designation as a golf course (via Walter Alcorn)

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn reaffirmed his commitment yesterday (Monday) to oppose the development of Reston National Golf Course.

Alcorn said he will not support Weller Development Co. and War Horse Cities’ effort to change the county’s comprehensive plan to redevelop the golf course.

His public statement comes after a community survey found that 98% of respondents opposed amending the county’s comprehensive plan to change the designation of the golf course. Similar results were yielded from a survey of 14 communities surrounding Reston National.

“The numbers speak for themselves. Therefore, as with Hidden Creek, I do not support changing the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan’s current designation of this property as a golf course and consider this matter closed,” Alcorn wrote in a statement.

Alcorn voiced similar opposition when the owner of Hidden Creek Golf Course sought to redevelop the course with a 100-acre park and 1,000 residential units. In 2020, Alcorn said that he would only support the proposal if there was strong community support.

Reston’s ongoing overhaul of its comprehensive plan leaves the issue of preserving Reston’s two golf courses untouched.

In the absence of changes to the plan, Reston National’s owners financed the creation of the Reston National Neighborhood Study Group to determine lacking amenities in the area.

The group called for the reclamation of roughly 100 acres of the golf course for “usable” open space, a neighborhood with shops, restaurants and gathering spaces, and a half-mile park through the neighborhood.

Here’s Alcorn’s full letter:

Since I took office almost three years ago, the topic that my office has received the most emails about is the potential redevelopment of Reston’s two golf courses, Hidden Creek and Reston National Golf Course. On this question I have consistently stated that any proposal to change the comprehensive plan for these properties from their current respective “golf course” designations would need support from surrounding communities.

The owners of Reston National have spent considerable resources during the past year reaching out to the community to consider the condition of and potentially the redevelopment of, some or all of their privately-owned property.

Below is the information that has been compiled by my staff from emails and other communications I have received from residents of surrounding communities and beyond. The pie chart and map provide a visual of the input received from residents in the surrounding communities of Reston National. I have also not received any requests from neighboring cluster association leadership to change the comp plan guidance for Reston National – in fact, I have heard the opposite from those neighborhood leaders.

The numbers speak for themselves. Therefore, as with Hidden Creek, I do not support changing the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan’s current designation of this property as a golf course and consider this matter closed.

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