This project began after the June 23 and July 7 board meetings, where the commission set out to create an inventory of Confederate places and structures within the county following the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd.
After identifying more than 26,000 streets and places in a report, the board narrowed the focus list to 650 well-known Confederate Officers and locally-known Confederates. After researching those names, the Commission found 150 assets to have confirmed Confederate associated names, according to the presentation by Anne Stuntz, the chairwoman of the History Commission.
Names identified in the Hunter Mill District include the Lee Manor Subdivision, Fort Lee Street, Mosby’s Landing Condominium Complex, and Wade Hampton Drive.
The commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors create a public dialogue regarding the issue through public meetings and community gatherings, and follow those discussions with deliberation and definitive action on the Confederate names. The Commission also recommended that all project research is archived in the Virginia Room in the City of Fairfax Regional Library because of the extensive project research.
Tom Biesiadney, director of Fairfax County’s Department of Transportation, discussed the process of petitioning the Commonwealth Transportation Board to change the name of Lee Highway and Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway. The commonwealth says there needs to be public input, as well as a request from the Board of Supervisors to change the name.
The Commission created a 2021 initiative in response to the Confederate listing, aiming to develop an inventory of research materials on African American communities in Fairfax County in collaboration with African American organizations including churches, social and community groups.
The Commission is using a model identified by the city of Alexandria. Additionally, this summer, the City of Fairfax developed a framework process for identifying Confederate-associated names throughout this city and is partnering with George Mason University to provide community learning sessions on the issue, according to the presentation.
The board shared their appreciation for the extensive and intricate research by the History Commission. Additionally, Board members mostly agreed that the first priority should be the renaming of the highways, and from there, move forward with a community. process for renaming the secondary and neighborhood streets.
One concern came from Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk regarding the history of the district’s name.
“I was hoping that there’d be something more definitive about Lee District, in terms of where its name originated, but it appears that we still have the same set of ambiguity,” said Lusk. “We will have to have a community conversation about this name of this district.”
Additionally, Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity expressed concern in rushing into the name change process in the midst of the pandemic and emphasized the need for “robust community participation” before moving forward.
Image via the Fairfax County History Commission
The Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination has proposed a process of drafting a five-cent plastic bag tax ordinance in Tuesday’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Environmental Committee meeting.
According to Susan Hafeli, the Deputy Director of OEEC, Fairfax County legislation allows the county to adopt an ordinance imposing a five-cent tax on most disposable plastic bags provided by grocery stores, convenience stores and drugstores.
As of right now, there are no guidelines from the state regarding the creation of a plastic bag ordinance, rather, the state intends to wait until a locality adopts an ordinance to consider guidelines, according to the presentation.
The revenues are to be appropriated for environmental clean-up, mitigation of pollution and litter, education and the provision of reusable bags to recipients of a federal food support program, according to Hafeli.
The proposed plastic bag tax could generate annual aggregate local revenues of between $20.8 to $24.9 million statewide, although, the tax may be more of an “impetus to behavior change rather than a revenue generator,” said Hafeli.
Across the region, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission Waste Management Board has begun exploring the issues laid out in the legislation, according to Hafeli. Additionally, Arlington County is planning to convene a public workgroup in early 2021 to discuss the adoption of a plastic bag tax, with the discussion of issues regarding equity in the county.
OEEC anticipates that action for this process will occur in two phases. The first phase will focus on public engagement, from developing an informative website, to holding one or more workshops for input, to releasing an electronic survey.
The second phase will focus on the development of the ordinance, including updating the webpage with the proposed ordinance and requests for comments, presentations to the Board’s Environmental Committee, and requests to advertise and hold a public hearing, according to Hafeli.
Concerns from several supervisors regarding the ordinance included confusion regarding state guidelines, equity issues within the community, and ensuring there is good research on the issue, especially in the midst of the pandemic.
However, most supervisors agreed that the environmental issue with plastic bags is significant, and that data from other major water sources, including the Anacostia River, has shown a plastic bag tax to have positive environmental effects.
Moving forward, the Board is looking to clarify the state’s policies while working in conjunction with regional partners and plan for further conversation on how to create the ordinance.
The next Environmental Committee Meeting will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 11 a.m.
Photo by Brian Yurasits/Unsplash
The Reston Association’s project to repair and inspect the Lakes Anne, Audubon and Thoreau dams was scheduled for the second week of December has been rescheduled for the second half of January 2021.
According to a statement from the Reston Association, the start date for the project was pushed due to delays with both the fabrication of new parts and with shipping. However, the statement says that the shift will lessen the impact on holiday plans the community may have.
Previously, Lake Audubon was supposed to be lowered to conduct repairs on the riser structure, and the Lake Thoreau dam was supposed to be thoroughly inspected.
According to Chris Schumaker, the Director of Capital Projects, the Lake Audubon Projects as well as the three spillway inspections should take no more than one month to complete. Lake Audubon is the only lake that needs to be lowered to complete the replacement of its spillway trash racks and several gate valves in addition to the inspection of the outfall pipes.
Lake Thoreau, Lake Anne and Lake Newport do not require lowering more than a foot to conduct inspections and therefore won’t impact its members, according to Schumaker.
Photo by Matt Paulson
Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) has announced the Mary B. Howard Invitational: An Excellent Thought About a Quality Idea, on view now through February 6 via the exhibition’s online viewing room. The group exhibition features new work by Rahne Alexander, Matthew Mann, Omolara Williams McCallister, Zia Palmer and Mojdeh Razaeipour.
The artists were selected by Guest Curators Zoe Charlton and Tim Doud, the co-founders of ‘sindikit, alongside GRACE Associate Curator Erica Harrison, according to a press release from the arts center.
Artists were invited to submit a proposal for the exhibit using its title as a prompt, in alignment with the project’s commitment to supporting studio research and experimentation emphasizing gender, sexuality and race, according to the release. Artists explored and developed concepts, receiving feedback from the curators.
The ‘sindikit project is a self-funded endeavor that values collaborative practices as artists and educators. The platform includes artist projects and creative community conversations between cultural activators, visual artists and their co-conspirators, said the release. The project was founded on the discussion of socio-political and cultural issues affecting art and artists.
According to the arts center, the exhibit honors the memory of Mary B. Howard, an artist, long-time board member and supporter of GRACE.
GRACE remains closed to the public. For more information, readers can visit their website.
Art by Rahne Alexander/GRACE Online Viewing Room
The Town of Herndon has applied for funding for a new project to reconfigure Sterling Road.
According to a staff report from Dec. 1, the town would like the residential street to reflect its current plans for traffic access management and multimodal circulation. The project length will be about one mile, located between Elden Street and Rock Hill Road.
According to Jaleh Moslehi, a project engineer, this project may occur in the latter part of the decade, with the hope that public outreach and input will be scheduled for Summer 2021.
The initial funding source will come from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s Local Revenue, according to the report. In addition, the town has proposed a funding application for up to $1,000,000 for fiscal year 2027.
Staff and the town’s consultant are planning to present the concept design for the road in Spring 2021. The design will include ADA accessible sidewalks and proposed bike lanes for the entire length of the project, according to the report. Additionally, the traffic study will analyze the potential for better lane realignments at the intersections with Elden Street, Crestview Drive and Herndon Parkway.
According to the report, the project’s objectives are to implement access management and multimodal measures, improve traffic signalization, add applicable turning lanes and provide for landscaping and safer ADA accessible sidewalks, all in an effort to increase safety while reducing congestion and enhancing circulation.
Screenshot from Google Maps
Reston’s Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association is officially holding its 8th Annual Lake Thoreau Festival of Winter Lights.
The festival, a lakeside tradition, will raise money for local causes. Residents must decorate the lake-facing side of their house, condo or boat with lights, and in return, donors will donate money to organizations of their choice.
This year, the initial pledges include:
- $12 per house contribution (max $2,000) for Lake Thoreau concerts next year (contact [email protected] to join the pledge).
- $8 per house contribution, cumulative from two donors, towards Cornerstones.
- $5 per house contribution (max $1,000) to Public Art Reston to sponsor Reston community art projects (donations can be directed to the Lake Thoreau project).
- $100 fixed contribution to Friends of Reston.
According to the statement, this means a total of $25 per house will go to the causes listed above based on the current commitments.
Those interested in becoming a donor can reach out to James Pan at [email protected]. Donors can pledge either a fixed amount or on a per house basis.
The Lake Thoreau Entertainment Association encourages the whole neighborhood to become involved and beat last year’s count of 177 homes and boats with lights. Since residents put up their own lights, the event is COVID-19 friendly — one of the safer seasonal celebrations to partake in.
The houses will be counted on Monday, Dec. 21, weather permitting.
Photo by Bob Ricca/Unsplash
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and with that brings closures around the county. Let’s take a look at what’s open, and what’s closed.
All Fairfax County Government offices will be closed on Nov. 26 and 27 for the holiday.
The Fairfax Connector will be operating on a Sunday service on Thursday, and a holiday weekday service on Friday.
Fairfax County Public Schools provided seven-day meal kits for Thanksgiving week, which were available for pickup through Nov. 24.
In Herndon, all trash collection is halted for the holiday, and all trash usually collected Thursday will be collected today.
Reston Community Center in Hunters Woods will be open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. the day after. However, RCC Lake Anne will be closed both days.
All Fairfax County parks will be closed on Thanksgiving, but all RECenters are open until noon. The day after Thanksgiving, the RECenters will be running normal hours and Frying Pan Farm Park will open its farm and indoor area.
Photo by Shoeib Abolhassani/Unsplash
On Nov. 19, The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce held its 2020 Awards for Chamber Excellence (ACE), recognizing the most engaged businesses, members and committees of the Chamber community over the last year.
In past years, awardees are honored in June at an annual membership meeting luncheon, according to a press release from the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.
However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the luncheon could not take place. Instead, the Chamber held a virtual event to recognize and appreciate the honorees for their hard work and contributions.
The 2020 ACE Award Winners are:
- Small Business of the Year: Steven Toole/Toole & Associates
- Medium Business of the Year: M & T Bank
- Large Business of the Year: Leidos
- Member of the Year: Kevin Taylor/Communicate by Design
- New Member of the Year: Linda Graziano/AppQueen
- Committee of the Year: Reston Chamber Cup Golf Committee
- Contributor of the Year: Iris Britt/Iris Britt Consulting
- Young Professional of the Year: Eric Zutler/Pearson Smith Realty
- Innovation Award: KME Digital
- Pinnacle Award: Tom Madden/Visual Impact Productions
- President’s Award: Dee Kakar/M&T Bank
The full list of ACE sponsors and nominees can be viewed on the award website.
The 2020-2021 Chamber Board of Directors was also announced after being confirmed by membership in June.
Image courtesy of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce
Neighborhood safety dominated a virtual town hall by Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn last night.
The town hall was called to discuss the ways in which the Fairfax County Police Department is acting to keep the Hunters Woods neighborhood safe in the wake of an active homicide investigation, as well as a growing concern from the community regarding the increase in gunshot reports around Reston and the Hunters Woods neighborhood.
FCPD Capt. Thea Pirnat discussed that while there is an increased number of gunshot reports in the area, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are increased gunshots — it could mean that the community is doing a better job reporting data. However, the Reston District Police Department is still working to increase police visibility in the neighborhood to deter crime.
The department is also increasing patrols in the neighborhood through a crime suppression team, according to Lt. Marc Mitchell. The department has also been sending out bike patrols as an increased presence to help build trust and rapport with the community members.
2nd Lt. Erin Weeks discussed the current status of the homicide investigation, urging the community to come forward with tips or reports to help guide the active investigation. Weeks said that the detectives are actively following up on ledes and that she is “confident that we are going to solve this case.”
Jose Lorenzo Guillen Mejia, 24, of Reston, was found dead near a walking trail in the summer of 2019 near a wooded area between Hunters Woods Plaza and Breton Court. Mejia was found with trauma to his upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene.
PFC Katy Defoe, the Crime Prevention Officer at the Reston District Station, encouraged community members to pay more attention to their surroundings as they go about their daily lives so they can act as good witnesses if necessary.
Defoe also presented a series of contacts organized with the Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition that community members can keep in mind in emergent or non-emergent situations, including:
- Police non-emergency line: 703-691-2131
- Embry Rucker Center Outreach Worker for unsheltered medical attention: 571-323-1399
- Mental health crisis assistance: 703-573-5679
- Fairfax Detoxification Center: 703-502-7000
PFC Brandi Horita, Reston District Station’s Community Liason Officer, also discussed cityprotect.com and the Fairfax County Crime Solvers program as two resources for community members to watch police activity and to promote awareness and crime prevention strategies.
Another virtual town hall will be taking place on Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. with more details to come.
Screenshot from the Hunters Woods Town Hall/YouTube
The Town of Herndon is currently considering plans to welcome a new church to the neighborhood. A planning commission public hearing took place virtually to discuss the arrival of Christ Fellowship Church this week.
In Herndon, religious institutions are typically not allowed in any of the town’s zoning districts. The church is applying for a special exception to permit a religious institution with a capacity of 300 persons, according to the Planning Commission’s Staff Report.
The church plans to occupy suites 7 and 8A at the Parkway Crossing Condominiums (459 Herndon Parkway).
Christ Fellowship Church has been a part of the Herndon community for almost 30 years, according to the staff report. As of now, the small congregation has approximately 50 members, no full-time staff members and one part-time staff member.
The church plans to hold small gatherings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some activities taking place on weekday evenings, but primarily over the weekends.
Photo via handout/Herndon Planning Commission
The Quantico toy collection will run through Dec. 13. However, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Station collections are only running through Dec. 12. Individuals can leave small donations in collection boxes outside the front door of each station every day until 8 p.m.
These hubs will accept donations, however, they will not be distributing supplies, according to the campaign website.
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Stations collected around 12,000 toys last year. The entire Quantico campaign collected more than 108,000 toys that were distributed to more than 106,000 children.
Quantico’s Toys for Tots program is run by the U.S. Marine Corps with a mission to collect new toys for distribution to underprivileged children for Christmas. The non-profit aims to inspire these children to become responsible, productive and patriotic citizens through these gifts.
Those who are interested in donating but do not live near a Fire and Rescue Station can visit the Quantico website for a list of more donation centers.
Photo by Ryan Fields/Unsplash
Fairfax County Public Schools has decided to delay bringing more students back into in-person learning due to rising COVID-19 cases — a decision made after previously stating they would prepare to bring back 6,800 students on Nov. 17.
A Return To School Town Hall will be taking place on Thursday, Nov. 19 to discuss the decision and next steps. The town hall will take place virtually on the FCPS website from 6-7 p.m. Participants can submit questions to [email protected] or call in to 1-800-231-6359.
The Fairfax Education Association, alongside other Northern Virginia education associations, has urged Gov. Ralph Northam to fully return to virtual learning. The association also wrote a letter to FCPS on Nov. 12 demanding virtual learning.
Do you believe trying to maintain the current hybrid learning is the right decision? Or do you believe FCPS should return to a virtual model? Was delaying the return of students the wrong call?
Photo via the FCPS website
The statewide group advocates with the state’s legislature for the interests of the Commonwealth’s 95 counties, according to a press release from McKay.
“I’m honored to serve as the next President of the Virginia Association of Counties. Throughout my many years with VACo, I have always considered us to be a large family,” said McKay in a speech delivered to members.
Chairman McKay had led efforts with VACo over the last several years to drastically increase state education funding, transportation funding and ensure the perspective of counties is heard statewide, according to the press release.
“I treasure the many relationships I have built with my colleagues throughout Virginia. VACo is a great way to bring us all together to advance our communities,” said McKay.
This upcoming year, Chairman McKay wants to lead VACo with the same level of equity as that of Fairfax County.
“As a kid riding my bike with friends, I didn’t realize what this meant, but I saw firsthand that where you come from was an important factor for your future success and livelihood. When I got older, I understood that this was wrong,” McKay said.
“This was a driving force behind my decision to begin a career in local government and an inspiration behind the One Fairfax equity policy that I introduced in 2017. This policy has become central to all decision making in Fairfax County by requiring us to look at all policies.”
McKay started his tenure yesterday.
Photo via Jeff McKay/Facebook
Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, and the holiday means it’s time to take a look at which community sites will be open, and which will be closed.
The Fairfax Connector will be operating on its Holiday Weekday Service, with several routes altered.
Fairfax County Public Schools will hold an all-virtual, two hour early release day for all students.
All parks will be closed with the exception of Frying Pam Park, which will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
RECenters will be open, offering free service to all veterans for the day. Due to COVID-19, reservations will be required.
Reston Community Centers will be open and operating under normal hours. However, the Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services community centers will be closed.
Photo by Aaron Burden/Unsplash
The finalists for this award, chosen in October, must provide community support in education, fighting hunger and diminishing homelessness, according to a statement from Chick-fil-A North Point Village.
Cornerstones has served the Northern Virginia community for more than 50 years, and they primarily reach communities of color. The non-profit was nominated by the North Point Village Chick-fil-A for their service to the community and action on the three pillars listed, according to the statement.
“There is no better organization than Cornerstones, that we as a community-based restaurant (Chik-fil-A) should partner with,” said Larry Everett, the Operator of Chick-fil-A North Point Village. “I am honored to know that Cornerstones will possibly receive up to $150,000 to continue impacting the Northern Virginia Area.”
Voting can be completed through the Chick-fil-A app until Nov. 21. The Grand Prize winner will receive $150K, while three other winners will receive from $50K to $100K for the Northeast Region.
Chick-fil-A also committed to give more than $5 million dollars this year to local organizations whose primary focus is on communities of color through education, hunger and homelessness, according to the statement.
Photo via Chik-fil-A/Facebook