Ringing in the new year, Herndon High and Herndon Middle will host a concert with a nationally recognized guest ensemble.
The Dallas Brass musical ensemble will visit with the bands from the two Herndon schools and hold workshops before joining the school bands for the last part of their Jan. 4 concert.
Since its founding in 1983 in Dallas, the ensemble has blended traditional brass instruments with a full complement of drums and percussion. In addition to solo performances, the ensemble has performed with symphony orchestras nationwide, including the Cincinnati Pops conducted by Erich Kunzel, New York Pops conducted by Skitch Henderson and the Philly Pops conducted by Peter Nero.
The partnership blossomed partly because of familiarity between band director Kathleen Jacoby and the ensemble. Jacoby and the Herndon HS Band Parent Association also sought to provide this experience to the students after a virtual school year.
“I sought out a performance with Dallas Brass because one of my former students, Buddy Deshler, is a trumpet player in the group,” Jacoby wrote. “Buddy tours with the group when he is not teaching at the Crane School of Music as the trumpet professor. We have kept in close touch over the years and been fortunate to have him solo with Herndon on three separate occasions. Getting the full Dallas Brass experience will be like Buddy times six!”
Tickets are available for purchase online for $10 to the general public and are non-refundable. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. in the school’s auditorium.
Per Fairfax County Public Schools COVID-19 policy, masks will be required indoors.
The concert is a portion of Dallas Brass’ “American Musical Journey” program which incorporates a full complement of brass and percussion for a musical travelogue through American history.
Musical selections come from a variety of traditionally recognized composers: Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, John Williams, John Philip Sousa. Selections also include from bands such as Tijuana Brass and Chicago, as well as styles that include Dixieland, swing, Broadway, folk, patriotic, pop and hip-hop.
In addition to its work with school bands, Dallas Brass has also performed at Carnegie Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center, and toured in Europe and parts of Asia. Past performances include playing for Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, appearing on the CBS “Early Show,” and their music has also been used numerous times on the television show, “The Young and the Restless.”
Image via Dulles Brass
The decision came after public hearings on Oct. 13 and Nov. 10 to discuss the budget, and a board approved motion on Oct. 28 to defer Barton Hill tennis court upgrades to the 2023 budget. The initial proposed assessment fee increase was for 6% to $764.
The motions approved by the board included the reallocation of $195,667 earmarked for the Lake Newport tennis project to the Reserve, Repair and Replacement Fund, and the reallocation of $435,000 in positive variances from previous capital budgets to the 2022-2023 capital budget. The board also approved utilizing $500,000 of existing operating funds to fund the 2022-2023 capital budget.
Several personnel moves are included in the budget’s coverage. Those include two new positions, the director of environmental resources and a capital projects manager.
The budget also includes a 3.5% performance-based merit increase which was approved during a Nov. 10 special meeting of the board. About two-thirds of the operating costs are personnel, and merit increases were frozen this year. However, acting CEO Larry Butler previously suggested that the merit increases would help retain RA staff.
The board identified several key drivers in non-personnel costs as well. Included was an approximate $100,000 increase due to inflation across building materials and supplies, and an increase in accounting services due to anticipated higher credit card expenses.
There is an expected reduction of printing and advertising costs due to greater utilization of digital media for communications, and election expenses are also dropping as costs are not expected to be as high.
If there is an opportunity to help others, “just do it,” according to advice from Reston third-grader Benjamin Kamp.
The idea of helping others is an established value in the Kamp household as they have regularly donated and fundraised over the past six years to support their community and specifically Cornerstones. In previous years, Benjamin and his family have also created snack packs for kids at Embry Rucker Community Shelter and also donated winter coats and hats to the shelter.
“Benjamin’s always been a helper,” Liz Kamp, the eight-year-old’s mother, said. “Last year he made handmade holiday cards that he went door-to-door on our street raising money for Cornerstones and then sent the money in. He’s a kid that’s always looking to help people and make other people happy.”
Following in those philanthropic efforts, Benjamin decided he wanted to make more of an impact this year.
After going through a couple of ideas, he chose a t-shirt fundraiser and designed them with the slogan of “Be Kind.” printed on them. He is selling kids and adult shirts for $25 each with all proceeds from the fundraiser are going to Cornerstones to support the Embry Rucker Shelter, which provides emergency housing for homeless people.
“Some people can be mean to those people who don’t have much money, so just be kind,” Benjamin said.
Over just a few weeks, Benjamin has sold over 200 shirts, raising about $4,500. Benjamin initially began with 50 kids shirts to sell, but the popularity of the shirts and cause quickly exceeded the family’s initial expectations and beyond Benjamin’s initial goal of raising $1,000.
The shirts have become a popular sight for friends of the family and Benjamin’s teachers as they relay photos to them of people wearing the shirts around the community. It’s also become something Benjamin has enjoyed seeing.
“It’s so exciting to see a lot of my friends and people sending these pictures,” Benjamin said. “I’ve seen people like the things I make.”
The first order of shirts sold out within a day while adults were asking for shirts as well and has placed additional orders to continue to fill the demand. Benjamin sold an additional 24 shirts this past weekend at Lake Anne Plaza during the Farmer’s and Craft Markets, raising $600.
The family will be taking orders for adult shirts via email at [email protected] through Sunday night for another order.
On Saturday, Nov. 20, Benjamin will also be outside Liz’s shop New Trail Cycling & Strength at 1641B Washington Plaza North from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to sell kids shirts and taking orders for adult shirts. There will also be a collection at the shop for welcome home baskets that will be donated to Cornerstones as a part of the businesses’s annual give back to the community and Cornerstones.
“I don’t want anyone to not like their life,” Benjamin said. “I want them to have a great life, not have a bad life. I don’t want them to hate their life, I want them to love it just the way it is.”
Shirts may be paid for via Venmo to Liz or by emailing a screenshot or forwarding a donation made on Cornerstone’s website with “Benjamin’s Shirts” in the comment box.
The town council will review a resolution to adopt a new Investment and Portfolio Policy and to establish an Investment Oversight Committee during its 7 p.m. work session tonight at the Herndon Police Department Community Room, at 397 Herndon Parkway. If adopted, the change would be the first for the town’s policy since it was adopted in 2004.
The town’s staff lists three primary objectives of the policy, beginning with the general safety of the town’s financial position to ensure capital losses are avoided. Additionally, the policy would seek to readily establish liquidity with one day’s notice to meet the town’s needs in order to ensure proper coverage of expenses in order to protect against potential losses.
The final objective of the policy is aimed at designing the town’s portfolio to regularly exceed the higher total of either the average return on three-month U.S. Treasury bills or the average rate on federal funds, and “optimize returns on investment while adhering to all applicable federal, Virginia State Laws, and Local Statutes governing the investments of public funds,” according to a staff report.
All investment activity of public funds for the town are applied to the proposed investment policy and included in the Town of Herndon’s Comprehensive Financial Report. Those funds include the General Fund, Water and Sewer Fund, Chestnut Grove Cemetery Fund, Golf Course Fund, Downtown Parking Enterprise Fund, Capital Projects Fund, the American Rescue Recovery Act Fund, and others that may be created.
In addition to the potential adoption of the investment and portfolio policy, the town will consider establishing an Investment Oversight Committee to “review general investment strategies, monitor results; discuss internal controls, and economic updates,” according to staff documents.
The members of the committee would be composed of one member of the town council, a member of the town attorney’s office, the town manager, director of finance for the town, and one member of the public.
The scope and investment objectives would also include maintaining roles, responsibilities and standard of financial care, and establish suitable and authorized investments while creating investment diversification.
Also, the policy objectives would include risk and performance standards, as well as maintaining a list of authorized financial institutions that may provide investment services and a list of approved security brokers or dealers also authorized to provide investment services in the state.
Additional objectives include securing the town’s assets through third-party custody and safekeeping procedures to protect against potential fraud and embezzlement, and establishing reporting and disclosure standards for reports to be delivered to the town manager and Investment Oversight Committee.
Cornerstones‘ annual drive to provide gifts for children during the holiday season is coming up.
The annual Gifts for Kids Drive will return with a similar look to last year’s drive by asking donors to purchase gift cards from to be given to families. Cornerstones is requesting gift cards in $25, $50 or $75 increments from locations such as Target, Walmart, T.J. Maxx, Kohls, Amazon or similar stores. No toys will be accepted for donation.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the drive will run concurrently with Thanksgiving Food Drive in order to reduce the number of interactions among volunteers, donors, staff and donation recipients, and to offer families ample time to purchase gifts for their children with the gift cards that will be distributed to them.
“The Gifts for Kids is one of Cornerstones’ most highly anticipated community drives,” Nate King, Coordinator of In-kind Donations and Drives, said in a press release.
“We have more than 800 wish lists from children to fulfill this year. Every donation is critical to helping us meet this ambitious goal. Our Gifts for Kids drive is a rewarding and meaningful opportunity for donors and volunteers to help ensure our youngest neighbors celebrate a meaningful and memorable holiday with their families.”
The public is encouraged to register as a Gifts For Kids donor through Nov. 12 online. Gift cards should be delivered to Cornerstones on Nov. 15 through the 17, and between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, located at 11900 Lawyers Road in Reston.
Additionally, donors may coordinate with Cornerstones’ team in order to provide gift cards in an amount that would cover a specific request from a child’s wish list.
Donations for the Thanksgiving Food Drive will also be accepted Nov. 15 through Nov. 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, as well as from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 19. Cornerstones has a recommended list of food or gift cards to be donated for this drive on its site.
Cornerstones has also partnered with Giant at North Point for anyone interested in purchasing a set $50 box of food and gift card that will be prepared by Giant for delivery to Cornerstones. For anyone interested, you may visit the customer service desk at the store to make the purchase. This option will be available through Nov. 12.
For any additional information or inquires about Cornerstones’ drives, you may contact King at 571-323-9569, or visit cornerstonesva.org.
The 10th Washington West Film Festival is back in-person after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will feature 31 films being shown from Thursday through Monday and expand its locations to include Bow Tie Cinemas in Reston Town Center, ShowPlace Icon in The Boro Tysons, Capital One Hall in Tysons Corner and CenterStage at the Reston Community Center.
The festival kicks off Thursday night with a single 7 p.m. showing of Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” at ShowPlace Icon in the Boro Tysons.
Friday’s films will begin with two blocks of short films at Bow Tie Cinemas. The first block will feature six short films focused on family bonds and the second block will consist of seven shorts documenting the journeys of characters intentionally seeking something.
The remainder of Friday’s films will begin with a double feature block entitled “Making Your Mark,” with documentaries “Love Reaches Everywhere” and “The Shoulders of Giants.” A second double feature will follow about individuals pushing their physical and emotional boundaries with a showing of “Against the Current” and “Last Know Coordinates.”
Capping Friday’s films will be the narrative film “I’M FINE (THANKS FOR ASKING)” with the short film “Are You Okay?” preceding it.
Saturday will mark the official closing night of the festival. It will begin with a 75th anniversary screening of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and will be followed by “Five Years North” and “A Crime on the Bayou.” The evening will be capped by the Washington, D.C., premiere of the documentary “Mission: Joy – Finding Happiness in Troubled Times” and will be preceded by the short film “Alone Together.”
While the festival will close Saturday, Sunday and Monday will also feature a handful of other films.
The ShowPlace Icon will host three blocks of films on Sunday. The blocks will begin with a student showcase of films from George Mason University’s FAVS (Film and Video Studies) student festival. The day will finish off with a reshowing of Friday’s film blocks about family bonds and followed by the documented journeys of characters intentionally seeking something.
The final film on Monday will be “The Blackest Battle,” written D.C. theatre artist Psalmayene 24.
Tickets are still available for purchase on the festival website.
All proceeds of the event will be donated to four charities: Evans Home for Children in Winchester, Baltimore non-profit Blueprint, foster program Virginia Kids Belong, and The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.
The full lineup of film blocks with their times and locations is below:
Thursday, Oct. 21
- 7 p.m. – “The French Dispatch,” at ShowPlace Icon in The Boro Tysons
Friday, Oct. 22
- 5:30 p.m. – “Shorts Program One: Family Bonds,” at Bow Tie Cinemas in Reston Town Center
- 6 p.m. – “Shorts Program Two: Seek and You Will Find,” at Bow Tie Cinemas in Reston Town Center
- 7 p.m. – “Making Your Mark,” at Bow Tie Cinemas in Reston Town Center
- 8 p.m. – “Beyond the Limits,” at Bow Tie Cinemas in Reston Town Center
- 9 p.m. – Short film “Are You Okay?” precedes “I’M FINE (THANKS FOR ASKING),” at Bow Tie Cinemas in Reston Town Center
Saturday, Oct. 23
- 10:30 a.m. – “It’s A Wonderful Life,” at Capital One Hall in Tysons Corner
- 1:30 p.m. – “Five Years North,” at Capital One Hall in Tysons Corner
- 4:30 p.m. – “A Crime on the Bayou,” at Capital One Hall in Tysons Corner
- 7:30 p.m. – Short film “Alone Together” precedes “Mission: Joy – Finding Happiness in Troubled Times,” Capital One Hall in Tysons Corner
Sunday, Oct. 24
- 1 p.m. – Showcase of “best of” films from George Mason University’s FAVS (Film and Video Studies) student festival, at ShowPlace Icon in The Boro Tysons
- 1:30 p.m. – “Shorts Program One: Family Bonds,” at ShowPlace Icon in The Boro Tysons
- 4 p.m. – “Shorts Program Two: Seek and You Will Find,” at ShowPlace Icon in The Boro Tysons
Monday, Oct. 25
- 7:30 p.m. – “The Blackest Battle,” at CenterStage in Reston Community Center
(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) When the Washington Football Team opens its season against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 12, Northern Virginia fans who catch the game at FedEx Field might notice a familiar name among the stadium’s food options.
The Herndon-based, family-owned taqueria Casa De Ávila Tacos is one of eight local vendors included in the ‘Flavor of the DMV Showcase’ that D.C.’s NFL franchise will introduce to FedEx Field for the 2021 season.
“A year ago we never saw ourselves on a huge platform, where we find ourselves today,” Abraham Avila, a founder of the taqueria, said. “I consider it lifechanging.”
Abraham and his wife Stephanie Avila launched the taqueria on Sept. 5, 2020 with his mother Luz Avila and sister Jessica Avila.
Stephanie, whose background is in nursing, came up with the idea for the taqueria because she wanted to do something different. After the couple discussed the idea, Luz and Jessica offered to assist with the venture.
“In the beginning, we knew our food was good. Growing up, my friends would always come over and they would always look forward to my mom’s cooking,” Abraham said.
With influences from Guadalajara, Mexico, the taqueria’s recipes are often homemade, coming from either his mother’s family or his wife’s side of the family.
“When we started, the reception was great,” Abraham recalled. “We didn’t expect the numbers we had, and so that very first day we looked at each other and we were like, ‘we’re onto something.’ And so we started building a following.”
That community support inspired the Casa de Ávila team to apply for the Washington Football Team’s first-ever Flavors of the DMV Showcase, which was brought to their attention by a customer.
Abraham says, when he and his wife discussed the possibility of applying, they initially felt daunted by the competition, but they realized that “the worst they’re going to say is ‘no.'”
“So, we submitted the application and we told them why we think our food would be a good idea as they’re reinventing their image,” he said. “And a couple weeks later we got the invitation as one of the finalists to compete. We were over the moon.”
The family taqueria pitted its birria quesatacos against restaurants, food trucks, food stands, and more from the D.C. area. They were evaluated by a tasting panel consisting of Washington Football Team Vice President of Guest Experience Joey Colby-Begovich, Super Bowl XXII MVP Doug Williams, and representatives from Levy Restaurants.
After getting feedback, the family waited a couple of weeks before being notified that they had been selected as one of the official vendors for the season. After initial speculation that Abraham may be pranking the group, the reality of the moment set in, and there were “a lot of tears, screams, a lot of ‘oh my goodness,'” Abraham says.
“That just sent chills through everybody,” he said. “It gave everybody here a new sense of energy. It kind of told us we’re on the right path of what we’re doing.”
During the application process, Abraham made the case that Casa De Ávila could help the football team connect with the local Hispanic community, letting that segment of its fanbase know that “we see you, we hear you, and here’s a piece of home in our stadium for you guys.”
Colby-Bagovich says the D.C. area’s increasingly diverse population was considered when selecting vendors for the showcase, along with the food’s taste, quality, and appropriateness for a stadium setting — that is, food that could be served in bulk and eaten without a table.
“One of our tent pole goals is to bring the community in as a part of our gameday experience,” Colby-Begovich said. “The DMV community is vast and diverse, and what better represents the richness of the DMV than food? We are thrilled to have local vendors representing their cultures, traditions, and culinary delights.”
The NFL extension of Casa De Ávila Tacos is located in Section B 134, near one of the end zones. It features three meats, with quesatacos (cheese) and carnitas (pulled pork) as permanent offerings, while a third will rotate between chicken, al pastor (sliced pork), and carne asada (beef) tacos.
While the NFL showcase will give the taqueria a whole new audience, for its owners, it will always remain a family affair.
“For us, family is number one. So our business name is our family name,” Abraham said.
When Abraham’s grandfather died earlier this year, the family had an opportunity to visit Mexico and bring his grandmother back to the U.S. visit her children. The sight of the taqueria’s name “brought tears” to her eyes, because she saw it as a way to keep her husband’s last name alive, he recalls.
“Being at the stadium, we want [people] to know that they’re also going receive the same high-quality food they can find at our restaurant or anywhere,” Abraham said. “We want to change the game up for concession food. And we’re doing it as a family.”
The Town of Herndon could soon get a couple more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
Herndon’s Architectural Review Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. today (Wednesday) to discuss the potential installation of four EV charging stations at Herndon Marketplace on 413 Elden Street.
Identified as Stephan Osborne, the applicant has proposed putting the new charging stations in the parking lot of the Safeway that anchors the shopping center, according to a staff report.
The proposed installation includes two masonry enclosures to screen necessary equipment that support the stations. The site will be accessible from Elden Street, Post Drive, and Grove Street.
The proposed stations will include blue and white bollards as barriers from vehicles, and the enclosure will be a block and brick wall with an opaque metal gate.
The landscape perimeter around the parking lot of the shopping center would also serve as an additional visual buffer between the proposed installation and the street.
Town staff say their report that the installation “should not have a major visual impact on the site.” The materials and design of the stations would match the current design of the shopping center. No lighting has thus far been specified for the stations.
Town staff has deemed the proposal compatible with “the applicable standards and requirements” of the town, including design criteria, according to the staff report.
The Town of Herndon has taken its initial steps toward utilizing federal funding earmarked to help alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Herndon Town Council approved the allocation of the town’s funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) during a public session on Tuesday (Aug. 10). However, the budgeting of the funds will take place in the future as the town reviews capital projects and other operations and maintenance needs.
“This is the initial [move] just to kind of get the town started,” Herndon Director of Finance Robert Tang said. “We can do future budget amendments and re-appropriations as needed.”
Passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in March, ARPA allocated $350 billion to assist state, local, territorial and tribal governments affected by the pandemic, establishing the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.
Virginia’s windfall included over $633 million to provide a “substantial infusion to local governments” that are in turn meant to help turn the tide on the pandemic, address economic fallout, and lay a foundation for a strong and equitable recovery, according to Tang.
Herndon received a first installment of $12.7 million, and a second installment of roughly the same amount is expected in summer 2022, giving the town a total of $25.5 million in relief funding.
The funds can be used to address public health expenditures, negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, lost public sector revenue, premium pay for essential workers, and water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure investments.
Tang detailed plans for the funding to support operations, maintenance, and capital projects from fiscal years 2020 and 2021 in order to recover and prepare for another potential economic downturn.
The focus points include addressing the pandemic’s negative economic impacts, supporting safe operations and working conditions for staff, replacing lost public sector revenue, and funding water and sewer projects.
However, Tang told the town council that there are a variety of challenges to meet, including vague and shifting guidance from the US Treasury and the need to follow proper procurement, documentation, reporting, and monitoring requirements.
The ARPA funds are subject to audits to ensure they are utilized for their intended purpose. Funds that are deemed to be improperly utilized would have to be paid back.
Mayor Sheila Olem said that once a spending plan is created for the town, the council will have further public hearings before approving the final allocation of these funds.
The ARPA funds must be allocated by Dec. 31, 2024, and expended by Dec. 31, 2026.
Photo via Google Maps
Tonight will be Fairfax County residents’ first chance to observe the Perseid Meteor Shower with a free event at the Turner Farm Observatory Park in Great Falls.
Located at 925 Springvale Road, the Turner Farm Observatory will open for the public to view the shower today (Wednesday) from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
In case of inclement weather, the park grounds will open on Thursday (Aug. 12) from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Peak viewing for the annual Perseid shower is tonight and tomorrow, according to the Analemma Society. The shower consists of debris and dust burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere after being left behind by the Comet Tuttle-Swift, which orbits the sun every 133 years and was last seen in 1992.
Anyone interested in attending the event is advised to bring lounge chairs and blankets to watch from the park grounds. The public is also encouraged to bring their own telescopes or binoculars to observe the night sky.
The event is a part of a cooperative effort between the Fairfax County Park Authority and the Analemma Society to provide celestial observing sessions at the observatory.
After being suspended last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Turner Farm’s regular observation sessions returned on June 18, allowing members of the public to study the night sky every Friday from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., weather permitting.
“Interest in astronomy has not waned during COVID. Sky watching is a great COVID-friendly activity,” said Judith Pederson, a public information officer for the Fairfax County Park Authority.
“Since we resumed our programs and public viewing sessions, classes have been filling up and we have seen an average of 40 people per session on clear Friday nights. What’s great about meteors is that they are best viewed with the naked eye and no telescope is needed. It’s a great family activity as well.”
She added that Park Authority naturalists expect “excellent viewing conditions” for the Perseid shower this year due to the moon’s thin crescent setting in the west shortly after sunset, which will make late night viewing in the eastern sky ideal.
The shower could produce as many as 100 meteors per hour.
Turner Farm also hosts a variety of in-person classes for anyone, ages 8 and older, interested in telescopes, astronomy, stargazing and more. There is an $8 enrollment fee for each class. Signups for classes are available on the Fairfax County Park Authority’s site.
The site follows COVID-19 protocol policies consistent with Gov. Ralph Northam’s directives and CDC guidelines.
The Countywide Strategic Plan meant to establish a community-driven vision for Fairfax County for the next 10 to 20 years is edging closer to an expected adoption by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
The county hosted a community update and feedback session on Wednesday (July 21) to gather feedback about potential indicators for success among nine priority areas listed in the proposed 56-page strategic plan.
It was part of the fourth phase of engagement initiated by the county. Two rounds were held in 2019 before the process was paused in 2020 to evaluate COVID-19 impacts. Two additional phases were added for 2021, with the third survey phase wrapping up in April.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to take action in October, according to countywide strategic plan coordinator Aimee Brobst, who led the meeting.
While there are no outreach plans to solicit direct public comments on the final text before it is presented to the board, Brobst said community engagement will continue after the plan is adopted. At that point, the county’s approach will “likely shift” to a more targeted focus on each priority area in addition to seeking feedback on the plan as a whole.
“We definitely want to use the feedback that we’re collecting here for the purpose of informing the strategic plan,” Brobst said. “But as we look forward, beyond even when the plan is adopted by the Board of Supervisors, we want to make sure that this isn’t something that stops once the plan is adopted, and we are being very thoughtful and very intentional about hearing from as many people as possible as we move forward.”
The nine priority areas of the plan include:
- Cultural and recreational opportunities
- Economic opportunity
- Effective and efficient government
- Empowerment and support for residents facing vulnerability
- Health and environment
- Housing and neighborhood livability
- Lifelong education and learning
- Mobility and transportation
- Safety and security
A poll to gauge attendees’ preferred focus areas within those categories found particular interest in access to cultural and recreational opportunities; economic stability and mobility for all people; financial sustainability and trustworthiness; and access and utilization of services.
Other top indicators were air, water and land quality; housing affordability and quality; career-based training and early childhood education; accessibility, affordability and equity for mobility and transportation; and reliability and security of critical infrastructure.
County staff noted that the plan is meant to be flexible with the ability to adapt over time, serving as a template to help the board determine its priorities and understand what community members think is important.
Acknowledging the rather sparse attendance at the meeting, Brobst said that the shift to virtual meetings over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the county to rethink and expand the tools it uses to engage the public.
“In addition to everything we’re doing that we think makes sense — using every channel that we have available to us as the county — we are very open to adapting,” Brobst said. “…One of the things we definitely wanted to do as part of this process is not necessarily do things just the same way as they’ve always been done in terms of doing only in-person meetings or doing just surveys or long-form surveys.”
A form for general questions or feedback for the plan is available at the bottom of the strategic plan page on the county’s website.
Plans for Reston Town Center North continue to slowly develop.
Put forward by Fairfax County’s building design and construction division and Inova Health Care Services, the amendment pertains to the grid of streets, a central green space and tree preservation areas, and establishing future developable blocks in conformance with the comprehensive plan.
A conceptual plan for the 47-acre site was previously approved in 2019. It included 400,000 square feet of public space for office, residential and retail, nine-plus acres for open spaces and eight developable blocks, all of which remains the same after Tuesday’s amendment.
Among the changes in this amendment was an increase of the allotted central green space from 2.3 acres to 3.5 acres, while keeping the tree preservation area intact. It also maintains the curvilinear streets, public space, athletic field, and county rec center.
Additionally, Cameron Glen Drive will connect to a different new street in the conceptual plan to allow for the larger central green.
“I don’t see it as a huge deviation from what was previously proposed, I see it as an improvement,” Design Review Board member Michael Wood said. “I see that we still need a lot of detail, but I think they know that after all of us kind of basically said it in all different ways.”
Maintaining the other features falls in line with objections the design review board expressed to the initial plan in 2018.
“The DRB at that time expressed objections to the plan, and indicated that they’d like it to be more Reston-like in character with curvilinear streets and a greater emphasis on preservation,” Joan Beacham, a project coordinator for the building, design and construction branch of Fairfax County, told the board.
The design of the amended central green will be advanced as a portion of a zoning development plan that will be brought to the board in a future meeting.
The amendment was approved with some additional conditions requested by DRB member Bruce Ramo, including a retention of requests previously made in 2019 when the board approved the initial plan:
- Further define the buffers surrounding the developmental blocks with illustrative cross-sections and dimensions
- Confirm and provide approximate minimum percentages of additional open/green space per developmental blocks in addition to the total open space requirements in the Memorandum of Understanding
- Provide a more cohesive merge in design and active involvement with Edgewater Park
The final condition added that final approval should be in line with Fairfax County’s comprehensive plan for Reston, which is currently being revised.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the alteration of Boston Properties’ plans for Reston Gateway to swap previously designated retail and parking space for offices after holding a public hearing on Tuesday (July 13).
The decision came two months after the county planning commission approved the proposal to amend the mixed-use development’s site plans and proffer conditions in May.
Mary Ann Tsai with the county’s department of planning and development noted on Tuesday that “no change is proposed to the approved overall gross floor area, or FAR, of the development.”
Submitted to the county in October, the application suggests replacing retail space and garage parking with offices and a screened level of above-grade parking. It will transfer up to 78,000 square feet of office space to Block D from parcels earmarked for Fannie Mae and and Volkswagen’s North American headquarters.
“The big move with this application is to take four stories of above grade structured parking and essentially turn them into office space,” Cooley partner Mark Looney, a legal representative for Boston Properties, told the board.
“That office space is coming from other blocks within the existing development where there was office space allocated to them, but they were being developed with less than what the maximum potential was,” Looney said.
Boston Properties, the developer of the multi-phase development, also proposed providing additional design elements on the street level as a part of this application. These elements could include façade articulation, decorative materials, and additional lighting.
Looney added that, while the developer thinks it has made “great strides,” further discussion and work will still need to be had to address these potential changes with Public Art Reston, Town Center Design Review Board, and Fairfax County planners.
Looney said this application is designed to shift square footage “into what used to be an above-grade structured parking facility to improve to overall design of the building itself.”
Located adjacent to the impending Reston Town Center Metro Station, Reston Gateway will expand the town center by 4.4 million square feet of development when finished, adding 2.2 million square feet of offices, 93,000 square feet of retail, 2,010 residential units, and a 570-room hotel.
The first phase, which encompasses the Fannie Mae and Volkswagen buildings, is currently under construction and expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Fairfax County is continuing its efforts to transition to renewable energy with the installation of solar panels on county government and public school buildings, but it will now do so with a different vendor.
The county ended its contract with the company Sigora Solar yesterday (July 1), about 18 months ahead of schedule.
Sigora Solar is one of three vendors awarded contracts to install, manage, and maintain solar energy infrastructure for county government and school buildings in December 2019, when Fairfax County announced what it said was the largest solar power purchase agreement initiative by a Virginia locality to date.
The original contracts with Sigora, Sun Tribe Solar, and Ipsun Power were set to run through Dec. 31, 2022.
However, the county amended its contract with Sigora on June 10 to state that it would be “terminated for convenience” effective July 1. Sigora was designated as the primary contractor for roof-mounted solar panel projects.
Moving forward, the county will now work with Sun Tribe Solar, the secondary contractor for roof-mounted panels and the primary contractor for carport or canopy-mounted panels.
“Under the terms of the agreement, the county leases space on its buildings for the companies to install solar panels that those vendors will own, and the county buys the energy generated by the panels at a fixed price,” Brian Worthy, a public information officer with Fairfax County’s Office of Public Affairs, said.
“However, these companies have the right to decide whether or not to install panels at any buildings identified by the county,” Worthy said. “During the past year and a half, the county selected 30 buildings for solar panels, and we are eager to move forward with these projects.”
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved leasing necessary roof space at two batches of county-owned properties so far. The first round of eight sites came on Oct. 20, 2020, and another 22 sites were added on March 9.
The sites approved for solar panel installations in Reston are:
- Reston Fire Station (1820 Wiehle Avenue, Reston)
- The North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Dr., Reston)
- Reston Community Center Hunter Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston)
- Great Falls Volunteer Fire Station (9916 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls)
Under the solar power purchase agreements, the installed solar panels will be owned, operated and maintained by the contracted vendors, rather than the county. The county will simply purchase electricity produced by these panels over time.
When the contracts were announced in 2019, the county estimated that the initiative could potentially yield over $60 million in electricity cost avoidance over the terms of the contracts. Additionally, it was projected that approximately 1.73 million megawatt hours of renewable energy could be generated at the county’s facilities.
If subsequently approved by the Herndon Town Council, the motion will increase the maximum density allowed in the town’s planned development urban residential district for projects that adapt an existing building for residential use.
The amendment would allow 28 dwelling units per acre for such projects, up from 20 dwelling units per acre. It would also add language defining “adaptive reuse” and requiring the projects to demonstrate no negative impact on water and sewer lines, include by affordable dwelling units, compared to the existing use.
The current proposal to redevelop the Residence Inn is not allowed under the existing zoning districts. The property sits on approximately 6.5 acres with 168 hotel rooms, which would amount to about 26 dwelling units per acre.
“There really aren’t any others out there that have this land-use designation and would be a building with a different use that could be adaptively reused,” zoning administrator David Stromberg told the planning commission.
“A big part of what the commission’s work is going to be over the next one to two years would be, when the comprehensive plan is updated, identifying areas that should get that adaptive area residential designation.”
This amendment is the second of three required legislative steps that have to be taken for the proposed redevelopment to take place. The first step was changing the site’s land-use designation in the town comprehensive plan, a hurdle that was cleared on Nov. 17.
The final step will be a legislative application by the applicant that will provide details about the proffers that the applicant will include in its plans for the project.
Stromberg added that this text amendment is “fairly specific” to this site, but depending on how this project works out, the land-use designation could be used in other parts of the town.
“This ordinance isn’t an affordable dwelling unit ordinance,” Stromberg said. “So, it was crafted a little bit narrowly because we have an applicant who’s indicated that they want to go in and redevelop a property, or reuse existing buildings on a property, and part of that will include affordable housing.”
He noted that the town won’t know how much affordable housing the developer plans to include until the proffers are submitted.
“Potentially, it’s something that could allow the town to get more affordable housing units if this model works,” he said.
The town council will hold another public hearing on the subject before making a determination on the proposed zoning ordinance amendment.