Email signup
Townhomes in Reston’s Waterview cluster are among the Lake Anne residences served by RELAC (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Over 600 Lake Anne area residents served by the now-defunct Reston Lake Anne Air-conditioning Corporation (RELAC) may soon be responsible for installing their own air-conditioning units.

After historically requiring certain residences to utilize RELAC, Reston Association’s Board of Directors will hold a referendum vote next month to change its restrictive covenant to accommodate other cooling services and options.

RELAC announced in December that it will no longer provide cooling services, starting this year. The company cited increasing electrical costs and challenges with securing a $400,000 loan to install a new chiller.

RA’s current deed states that no individual AC units of any type are allowed in any residential clusters where central air conditioning service are available to the lot line.

The association is not responsible for the efforts of RELAC, which is regulated by the State Corporation Commission.

“Our Board of Directors determined that a referendum is the first step available to Reston Association to provide affected members with an opportunity to decide in advance of the approaching summer heat whether or not to have individual air conditioning units,” Cara O’Donnell, a spokesperson for RA, wrote in a statement.

At a Jan. 25 board meeting, RA board president John Farrell emphasized that RA does not “own, control, or regulate” RELAC. Due to its restrictive covenant, homes in six clusters covering 601 residences can’t use AC independent of RELAC unless a member is medically excused to do so under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Members expressed frustration on the issue at the meeting. Some pleaded with RA to consider offering RELAC one year of life support to allow clusters and condominium associations to determine next steps.

“We are all left with just an enormous task at our feet at the 11th hour before summer starts. I’m very concerned about my fellow community members and their health and welfare,” Restonian Susan Giesse said.

Jeff Crowe, a resident of the Waterview Cluster, questioned the need for a referendum vote when RA’s covenant appears to only apply to residential clusters where central AC service is available to the lot line.

“The obvious question is, ‘why should a vote have to pass at all?'” Crowe said. “The covenant only applies if air conditioning service is available to the lot line. Affected members have been notified that such service will not be. Is Reston prepared to guarantee that air conditioning service will be available to the lot line for all affected members for the forthcoming cooling season? For how many years after?”

As RA prepares for the vote, some members have coalesced to form a co-op that would manage water service for the 2024 cooling season. Simon McKeown, a Hickory Cluster resident and chair of the co-op’s steering committee, signed a memorandum of understanding on Dec. 28 with RELAC to create the foundation for the co-op structure, according to Patch.

If the referendum passes, RA’s covenants department will work with members to limit delays as AC applications make their way through the design review process.

Members of the Design Review Board will also work with each cluster to help establish cluster standards for HVAC systems.

“An established cluster standard for HVAC, will aid each individual member in having a good point of reference for HVAC installations and make the application process (if applicable) more simplified,” RA said.

Some members can seek a temporary health exemption to install individual air conditioning units in their homes.

Public hearings on the referendum vote are slated for Feb. 5 and Feb. 12. On Feb. 13, ballots will be mailed to voting members, who must return the ballots by March 8. Results of the referendum will be announced at a special meeting of the board of directors on March 13.

0 Comments
Children’s Summer Reading Festival tote bag (courtesy Xande Anderer/Fairfax Library Foundation)

As the new school year approaches, young readers can celebrate summer reading this Sunday (August 13).

The Fairfax Library Foundation will bring a second edition of its Children’s Summer Reading Festival to the Chantilly Regional Library (4000 Stringfellow Road) from noon to 3 p.m.

Admission is free, and children and families can enjoy face painting, a bounce house, food trucks, a mini zoo and other attractions. The event doesn’t require tickets, but attendees who reserve a spot via Eventbrite can get a festival tote bag while supplies last.

In early June, Lorton Library (9520 Richmond Highway) hosted more than 1,200 attendees at the inaugural edition of the festival, according to an FLP press release. At the event, more than 240 children registered for Fairfax County Public Library’s summer reading program.

This Sunday’s date is a rescheduling — Chantilly Regional Library was originally slated to host the festival in late June. Families can also attend an outdoor screening of Frozen at the library Saturday night (Aug. 12).

Also open to adults, FCPL’s summer reading program runs through Aug. 18, and it’s still possible to register. Participating readers have already exceeded the 50,000-book goal for the community by more than 30,000 books.

Participants in the summer reading program can earn virtual badges for completing reading goals. After readers meet their goals, they can get a coupon sheet with offers from businesses and the Fairfax County Park Authority.

0 Comments
All of Fairfax County’s public libraries have been designated as cooling centers during extreme heat events (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

As homelessness increases in Fairfax County, affected residents can use revamped county resources to cope with extreme summer heat.

The county will activate its extreme heat response when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory, excessive heat watch or excessive heat warning.

As part of the response, 47 county facilities are now designated as cooling centers and will provide supplies, such as water, sunscreen, insect repellant, body wipes, and bus passes, according to a presentation to the Board of Supervisors’ health and human services committee last week.

“Like in previous years, all county facilities that are open to the public can be used by residents to come in for cooling,” Jill Clark, health and human services policy and planning manager with Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services, said in the presentation.

The cooling center facilities include all libraries and community centers. In those locations, staff will be prepared to welcome residents in need, and there will be supplies and seating in designated spaces.

Supplies will also be available at shelters and drop-in centers and from outreach workers. Most of the supplies are single-use and/or lightweight and portable. The decision to supply single-use items, among other parts of the plan, came from feedback from a September 2022 survey of 81 unsheltered residents.

“In the responses, you could hear the challenges they experienced both in terms of discomfort and real negative health effects from the extreme heat, including nausea, shortness of breath, exhaustion, asthma attacks, inability to eat as well as sunburns and rashes,” said Tom Barnett, deputy director of housing and community development in the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness.

The county will also aim to better notify unsheltered residents about heat advisories by using a new dedicated channel of Fairfax Alerts.

“We learned through the unsheltered residents survey that most respondents actually have a phone with internet access, and actually prefer getting information about resources and heat alerts via text messages and emails,” Barnett said.

To help residents get to cooling centers, drop-in centers or weather-related overflow sites, the county will offer free Fairfax Connector bus passes in the form of 3,000 postcards that cover two rides each. In addition, the county will provide pre-loaded Transportation Options, Programs & Services (TOPS) cards to assist unsheltered residents who cannot access Fairfax Connector buses.

These changes came out of recommendations from a workgroup that formed in August 2022 in response to concerns raised by the Fairfax County NAACP. The board received the workgroup’s recommendations in a March memorandum.

“The work group and its four committees included a robust membership across many different county departments as well as key partners and representatives from the homeless service providers, the faith community and advocates,” Barnett said.

0 Comments
A girl holds a book at last year’s reopening of the Lorton Library, one of two hosts of the inaugural Children’s Summer Reading Festival (courtesy Fairfax County Public Library)

Fairfax County Public Library is kicking off its summer reading program with a different approach this year.

The Fairfax Library Foundation will launch its inaugural Children’s Summer Reading Festival at two libraries this month to celebrate the beginning of FCPL’s annual summer reading program.

“We hope these festivals help get Fairfax County kids and adults excited for our Summer Reading Adventure,” FCPL Director Jessica Hudson said. “This year’s summer reading theme is All Together Now so we thought throwing a huge party would be a good fit! Thank you so much to the Fairfax Library Foundation for organizing these festivals.”

The first festival takes place on June 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lorton Library (9520 Richmond Highway). The second event takes place on June 24 from 4-7 p.m. at Chantilly Regional Library (4000 Stringfellow Road).

The festival will include games, crafts, a bounce house, mini zoo, snacks, face-painting, food trucks and a photo booth.

Although both festivals are free, online registration is encouraged.

Registration for the summer reading program opens online on June 10. Paper logs will be available at all branches before the program kicks off on June 16. Individuals who register early will get priority for raffle entries to win Scrawl Books gift cards.

Adults who finish the program will get a coupon book and will be entered into other raffles for $25 gift cards for AMC, Barnes & Noble and VISA, along with other prizes — including four tickets to Escape Room Herndon.

In Chantilly, the festival will be followed by a free outdoor screening of Disney’s “Frozen: Sing-Along Edition,” Fairfax Library Foundation Development Director Cheryl Lee said.

0 Comments
Reston Community Center will kick off its summer entertainment tomorrow (courtesy RCC)

Reston Town Square Park (11900 Market Street) and Reston Station (1901 Reston Metro Plaza) will soon come to life with summer entertainment organized by the Reston Community Center.

RCC has organized six series this year, varying from jazz ensembles to family picnics. Some events will feature pop-up treats in other neighborhoods.

“Reston knows it’s summer when the sounds of great music can be heard in our beautiful plazas,” RCC Board Chair Beverly Cosham said. “RCC brings people together to dance, socialize, visit an outdoor restaurant, or share a picnic basket. It’s a Reston tradition we keep expanding and look forward to every year.”

The first concert — a jazz show from singer Darden Purcell — will usher in Memorial Day weekend at Reston Town Square Park tomorrow (Friday).

A complete breakdown of the events is available below:

Take a Break
Thursdays, June 1 – August 31
7-8:30 p.m.
Reston Station

Beginning with Don’t Back Down, a Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers tribute band, the Take a Break concerts fill the plaza atop the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. Other performers include Texas Chainsaw Horns, Loudoun Jazz Ensemble, Scott Kurt and Memphis 59. For the full schedule click here: Take a Break Concerts at Reston Community Center. Concerts are presented by RCC in cooperation with MSE Productions, Inc., and are hosted by Reston Station.

Darden Purcell and Friends
Fridays, May 26 – October 13
5:30-6:45 p.m.
Reston Town Square Park

Jazz vocalist and series curator Darden Purcell brings her group to open the summer series of “Darden & Friends” in Reston Town Square Park. This concert will feature exciting new arrangements of Great American Songbook repertoire and jazz standards.

Fab Fridays
June 2 – September 1
7-8:30 p.m.
Reston Station

Kick off the weekend with Fab Fridays featuring the U.S. Army Blues Big Band, festive rhythms from Dogo from Togo, merengue with Latin pop band Ocho de Bastos and many more. See the full concert schedule here: RCC Fab Friday Concerts. Three hours of free parking are available in the ParkX garage with validation. Concerts are presented by RCC in cooperation with MSE Productions, Inc., and are hosted by Reston Station.

Family Fun Entertainment
Saturdays, June 17 – August 5
10-10:45 a.m.
Reston Town Square Park

Bring the kids for magic, comedy, puppets, music and lots of laughs. Family Fun begins on June 17 with Guava Jelly. Other shows include Rocknoceros, Lohr Family Antics, The Uncle Devin Show and Turley the Magician. Family Fun Entertainment is presented by RCC and Reston Town Center Association in cooperation with MSE Productions, Inc. Reston Town Center garages offer free parking on Saturdays.

Sunday Art in the Park with the Shenandoah Conservatory
Sundays, June 11 – August 27
7-8 p.m.
Reston Town Square Park

Wind down your weekend with classical, jazz and cabaret-style music provided by faculty and students from Shenandoah University’s acclaimed music conservatory. The series starts June 11 with Ellington Caravan paying tribute to Duke Ellington. This series will run through August 27. Visit Sunday Art in the Park for the complete schedule. Reston Town Center garage parking is free on Sundays. Sunday Art in the Park is presented by RCC and Reston Town Center Association in cooperation with Shenandoah University.

Family Picnic Days
Saturday August 5 – Temporary Road Pavilion
Saturday, August 12 – Pony Barn Picnic Pavilion
Saturday, August 19 – North Hills Picnic Pavilion
4-6 p.m.

Bring a picnic, your family and friends to Family Picnic Day. Play family-friendly lawn games, enjoy local performers and have some fun! Family Picnic Days are presented by Reston Community Center and Reston Association.

0 Comments
Tysons Corner Center will host programming throughout the summer at its Plaza (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Though the solstice won’t arrive for another month, the spirit of summer is already alive at Tysons Corner Center.

After drawing a crowd earlier this month with its first-ever Taste of Tysons, the mall has lined up a variety of free Summer on the Plaza events and activities, including returns of its outdoor family movie nights and a concert series.

The movies will screen from 7-9 p.m. on one Friday each month, starting next week:

  • May 26 — Moana
  • June 30 — E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
  • July 28 — Boss Baby: The Family Business
  • Aug. 18 — Matilda

Complimentary popcorn and soft drinks are provided at the screenings.

Similarly taking place from 7-9 p.m., the concert series will launch in June with singer Jarreau Williams, an Alexandria native. In a change of pace from last year’s retro series, the 2023 program is intended to celebrate different genres:

  • June 17 — Jarreau Williams (R&B)
  • July 15 — Keeton (pop)
  • Aug. 19 — Delta Spur (country and classic rock)

For those who can’t wait until June to groove to some live music, The Boro (8350 Broad Street) is hosting a May concert series with the Tysons Community Alliance. The last show, featuring the jazzy Julian Berkowitz Quartet, is coming this Saturday (May 20) from 1-3 p.m.

Throughout the summer, Tysons Corner Center will also have regular art, game, music and fitness activities on the Plaza.

From a press release:

Art Wednesdays
May 3-Aug. 23
5 p.m.
The Plaza

The first four Wednesdays starting May 3 watch live graffiti art come to life. The Lorton Workhouse and Live Art International introduces alternating art concepts for participants to take a drawing class, take home personalized airbrushed swag and more. All materials will be provided.

Wellness Sundays
May 7 – August 20
Class times: 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and noon
The Plaza

Every Sunday experience a new workout and learn about local plants and flowers for Wellness Sundays. Join for Fabletics and The Lorton Workhouse for rotating classes in Pilates, belly dancing, and Boot Camp class and creating your own take-home flower arrangement with Old Dominion Flower Company.

Game Night Thursdays
May 11 – August 31
6 p.m.
The Plaza

Starting May 11th, DC Fray will host a free game night every other Thursday. Game concepts will rotate between Cornhole, Roller Skating, Ping Pong, Bingo, RC Racing and Pickleball. Prizes will be awarded!

Music & Dance Fridays
May 5 – August 11
Classes: 6 p.m. or 6:45 p.m.

Join Silvia and La Musica the first two Fridays of each month starting May 5 through August 11 for salsa lessons and a musical workshop. For beginners, Salsa lessons start at 6pm and bachata lessons begin at 6:45 PM. The La Musica: World of Encanto music workshop for kids will feature musical genres from successful Disney films: Coco, Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros and Encanto for karaoke session with live percussion instruments.

0 Comments
A lifeguard at The Water Mine in Reston (via Fairfax County Park Authority/YouTube)

While school doesn’t officially start until Aug. 22, The Water Mine at Lake Fairfax will wind its summer operations down a week early this year, beginning Monday (Aug. 18).

The Fairfax County Park Authority is temporarily closing the popular Water Mine Family Swimming’ Hole due to lifeguard and other operational staff shortages at the location. The closure will last from Aug. 15-20.

After that, for the last three weeks of summer, tthe park will only be open on weekends, with Sunday on Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4) as its final day of the year.

The issue is part an industry-wide labor shortage faced by FCPA and other county agencies. The park authority typically recruits more than 600 summertime hires to staff summer camps, pools, and other park sites.

The decision was made due to safety concerns.

“We understand this decision is disappointing. However, it’s safety, safety, safety first,” FCPA Park Services Division Director Cindy Walsh said.

Walsh said many lifeguards are going back to school earlier or going on vacation, leaving the Water Mine with fewer guards than it has had in previous years.

The Water Mine is located at 1400 Lake Fairfax Drive in Reston. It typically operates from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Earlier this summer, the American Lifeguard Association estimated that staffing shortages would affect a third of the pools in the country. Reston Association closed two pools for multiple days last month.

Screenshot via Fairfax County Park Authority/YouTube

0 Comments
Sun glare with clouds (via Ritam Baishya/Unsplash)

With the D.C. area’s summer heat in full swing, local organizers worry that there are too few options for unhoused residents in the county to cool down.

Last month, the Fairfax County NAACP approved a resolution calling on Fairfax County to improve heat relief services for low-income residents and those experiencing homelessness in the county.

“Summer temperatures and storm frequencies are increasing due to climate change, thus homeless people are at greater risk of health impacts and even death,” says the resolution approved by the civil rights organization’s executive committee on July 28.

Potential solutions proposed by the resolution include a pilot program like D.C.’s heat emergency plan, better communication of hours and locations for the county’s cooling centers, vouchers to families for motel rooms, and distributions of water bottles, personal fans, and sunscreen at government centers.

In response to the resolution, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Health and Human Services Committee directed the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide the county’s current heat emergency plan.

In a memo dated July 29, DHHS listed a number of options available for cooling down. It also agreed to “enhance our efforts” and enact more “immediate action” for the county’s unhoused residents in need of relief from the August heat and humidity:

This work includes addressing transportation access gaps, evaluating both the variety and coordination of supply disbursements (both direct provision and at our cooling sites), considering the use of hotel vouchers in the event overflow shelters are at capacity, and providing a more robust communications plan as well as additional opportunities to provide direct communication outreach to individuals in need.

Additionally, NAACP officials tell FFXnow that a committee will meet tomorrow (Aug. 12) to discuss more solutions and ways to better help those in need.

Mary Paden, who chairs the NAACP’s Fair and Affordable Housing Committee, says she’s encouraged by the county’s willingness to listen and work with the group. But action needs to happen now, considering there are likely plenty of very hot days still left in the summer.

“Many [unhoused residents] are older and sick and are more affected by the heat than a younger, healthier person,” Paden said. “It took deaths for the hypothermia program to get set up in the winter…and you wonder if we have to wait for a death to get really serious about taking care of people in the heat.” Read More

0 Comments
A giant inflatable duck looking cool in a pool (via john labelette/Unsplash)

It’s August, and we have fully arrived at the hell’s front porch portion of the D.C. area’s seasonal cycle.

Over the past week or so, thermometers have been clocking in the upper 80s and 90s, but with the humidity adding an extra 10 degrees to every day, the summer heat offers an almost tangible reminder that, despite all the concrete, asphalt and landscaped lawns, Fairfax County is still a wetland at heart.

Like other kinds of extreme weather, heat can be dangerous, contributing to hundreds of deaths per year in the U.S., and climate change will likely push that toll higher.

To take your mind off the prospect of hot, muggy days becoming even more of a norm in the future, what’s your go-to method of handling this summer weather? Do you try to escape with a vacation, or are you more apt to seek relief at the nearest swimming pool or ice cream shop?

If you have other tips and secrets for cooling off, feel free to share them below.

Photo via john labelette/Unsplash

0 Comments
The Nottoway Nights summer concert series will return to Vienna in July, along with a new Global Dance & Music program in West Falls Church (courtesy Office of Supervisor Dalia Palchik)

The Fairfax County Park Authority’s annual Summer Entertainment Series is back, and this time, West Falls Church has been invited to the party.

The inaugural Global Music & Dance program will launch at 7:30 p.m. next Wednesday (July 6) in the parking lot of the Graham Road Community Building (3036 Graham Road), Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik announced on Tuesday (June 28).

“This new program will highlight local international arts groups, with a focus on dancing,” Palchik said in a board matter, directing county staff to start advertising the scheduled concerts.

The festivities will kick off with swing dancing from the Silver Tones Swing Band before showcasing a different style of music, from polka to klezmers and mariachi dancing, every Wednesday in July and August.

Global Music & Dance joins the long-running Nottoway Nights concerts in Vienna to form the newly named Providence Presents series:

Nottoway Nights — Thursday evenings, 7:30-8:30 p.m, Nottoway Park (9601 Courthouse Road)

  • July 7: Voices of Classic Soul (R&B, Motown)
  • July 14: Project Locrea (world music)
  • July 21: King Soul (Southern soul)
  • July 28: Seth Kibel & The Kleztet (jazz, swing)
  • Aug. 4: The Seldom Scene (bluegrass)
  • Aug. 11: Cathy Ponton King (roots, blues)
  • Aug. 18: Yellow Dubmarine (Beatles tribute band)
  • Aug. 25: Billy Coulter (roots rock, pop)

Global Music & Dance — Wednesday evenings, 7:30-8:30 p.m., Graham Road Community Building (3036 Graham Road)

  • July 6: Silver Tones Swing Band (swing dance)
  • July 13: Fraternidad Folklorica Cultural Morenada Bolivia (Bolivian dance)
  • July 20: Violin Dreams (klezmer music)
  • July 27: Mariachi Los Amigos (mariachi dance)
  • Aug. 3: The Continentals (polka music)
  • Aug. 10: El Tayrona (Colombian dance)
  • Aug. 17: Centro Cultural Peru (Peruvian dance)
  • Aug. 24: Caiso Steel Drum Band (Caribbean music)

The park authority partners with the district supervisors’ offices, the Fairfax County Park Foundation, and sponsors every summer to provide free entertainment across Fairfax County.

Underway since June 3, this year’s programming has been broken up into 11 series at 18 different venues and includes 180 live performances, along with drive-in movies at the Trinity Centre in Centreville. A full roster of events can be found on the park authority’s website.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list