Reston, VA

As the state relaxes public health guidelines, Fairfax County public libraries will soon be open to the public. 

Beginning Monday, July 13, patrons can take advantage of express services that focus on “grab-and-go style” activities. Patrons can browse shelves, use computers and pickup holds.

But even as the state enters into phase three of Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plan, restrictions will be in place. All daily visits will be limited to 30 minutes.

During the first week of express services, library staff will explain the new model and make sure capacity limits are maintained. Disposable masks will also be offered to library patrons. 

Here’s more on other modifications:

  • Each branch will have a capacity limit to allow social distancing to take place
  • Virtual programs will continue
  • Meeting rooms will be unavailable
  • Furniture will be removed from the public floor
  • No donated materials will be accepted
  • No print daily newspapers or in-house laptops will be offered
  • No in-person programming will take place
  • Plexiglass shields will be installed at customer service desks
  • Every other PC will be disabled

Curbside services will continue for patrons who are not yet comfortable using library facilities. The service is offered daily except Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Express services will be open on Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Several businesses in the Town of Herndon can soon take advantage of outdoor dining space on town property.

The Herndon Town Council is considering a proposal to approve the use of town property and public right-of-way for temporary outdoor dining. The proposal heads to the council for a vote tomorrow (Tuesday).

Although restrictions on indoor dining have been lifted, the businesses are seeking space to expand their operations on town property. Previously, the town streamlined its temporary approvals process for outdoor dining on private property.

Here’s more from Lisa Yeatts, the town’s attorney:

Under standard town procedures, requests for a License to use the town sidewalks, streets or parking lots, must be approved by the Town Council after a public hearing causing the entire process to take several months before a License is issued. In order to expedite the process established Phase I Temporary Outdoor Dining Permits, the Town Council amended Ordinance 20-O-23, Continuity of Governmental Operations during Pandemic Disaster (COVID-19), as amended, on May 26, 2020 by Ordinance 20-0-30, authorizing the Town Manager to approve and sign instruments necessary to address the phased reopening of the town. Such instruments are subject to final consideration and ratification by the Town Council at its next available Public Hearing

Seven business plan to expand outdoor dining:

The council meets tomorrow at 7 p.m. Other items on the agenda include discussion on federal funding due to COVID-19 and restructuring the town’s debt.

Photo by George Nikolopoulos

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With Virginia’s transition into Phase 3, Reston Association pools are further opening to the public today (Monday). Those interested in swimming can begin making reservations and can reserve as far ahead as August 6, according to a statement from Reston Aquatics.  

The pools open include Lake Newport Pool, Golf Course Island Pool, North Hills Pool, Glade Pool, Newbridge Pool and Dogwood Pool. To make a reservation, click on the link for the desired facility. Reservations are made through Sign-Up Genius, which does not require an account to set up. 

There are limited activities allowed at the pools due to extra safety precautions. Swimmers can use the lap pools, go diving, free swim and exercise. Swim lessons and fitness classes are open for instruction, and in certain locations, self-guided exercise spaces are now available. 

However, spas, wading pools and play features are still closed, according to Reston Aquatics. Pool goers must also provide their own swim equipment such as goggles and lifejackets since the facilities are not loaning equipment to the public. 

Health questionnaires will be provided to each patron upon entrance to the pool with questions regarding symptoms and the likelihood of having the virus.

Pools are requiring face coverings when patrons are within 10 feet of each other but are not to be worn in the water. Additionally, 10 feet of space is required at all times indoors. Patrons must bring their own water, as all water fountains will be closed to the public. 

Locker storage is also closed to the public, so patrons must plan on storing their belongings on the pool deck. Lounge chairs will be sanitized after each reservation to ensure cleanliness. 

Photo via Reston Association/YouTube

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LA Fitness finally opened its doors in Herndon Center yesterday (July 1).

The fitness gym was expected to open in early January, but permitting issues and the COVID-19 pandemic delayed opening day. The gym is located at 494 Elden Street.

Kristhian Reyes, the general manager of the location, said he is excited to welcome patrons to the facility.

“In all honesty, we are just glad to be open and be able to actually show everyone what they’ve been waiting for. So far the opening has gone great members are excited to see the facility and be able to finally get in and use it,” he said.

For now, LA Fitness will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m.  to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Photo via Kristhian Reyes

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The Closet of the Greater Herndon Area, Inc. has awarded 22 local high school students $45,000 worth of college scholarships. The students span across five high schools in the community, according to a statement released by the organization. 

“We are so proud of these youth and their families and are happy to continue supporting this important educational need in our community,”  said Gene Wiley, The Closet’s board president

According to the statement, The Closet thrift shop has awarded more than $500,000 in college scholarships to more than 500 students since 1974. They have also distributed almost $3 million in direct cash grants to local service groups.

A breakdown of the awardees is below:

  • From Herndon High School, the recipients are Lucilla Antwie, Karen Ayala-Bonilla, Caleb Calderwood, Sean Frias, Maryum Khan and Judith Velasquez.
  • From Mountain View High School, the recipients are Doris Alvarado, Abonesh Tadese and Tenzin Tsering.
  • From Oakton High School, the recipients are Olohi Anteyi, Monica Alexandra Castellanos and Maria S. Rivera.
  • From Park View High School, the recipients are Ebanneh Atabe, Charlotte Edwards, Kimberly Fuentes-Galvez, Kimberly Molina Rivas, Kaitlyn Smith, and Melana Washington.
  • From South Lakes High School, the recipients are Rhema Ebna Konadu, Nicol Katherin Salinas Perez, Daniel Mebratu Tolessa and Nia Jordan Winston.

 

The thrift shop is a non-profit group based on faith-based congregations. They hold a small staff, with volunteers helping out the store as well.

Those looking to donate can drop off clothing and small household items on Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Additionally, those interested in volunteering can contact the store owner, Patricia Rhodes, at 703-437-7652.

Photo courtesy of The Closet of the Greater Herndon Area, Inc. 

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The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce has elected its 2020-2021 Board of Directors.

Dee Kakar, vice president at M&T Bank, will begin his term as board chairman. He replaces Maggie Parker, senior vice president of community relations  at Comstock, who ended her year of leadership. Tom Madden of Visual Impact Productions will take over as chair-elect. Parker will continue in to serve on the board in her new position as secretary.

“The 2020 – 2021 year will be a challenging yet defining year for businesses and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce,” Kakar said. “I am committed to the challenge of furthering the conversation on diversity, social injustice, and inclusion. We will invent new ways of promoting business and continue our history of being a leader in the Dulles Corridor.” 

A complete breakdown of this year’s Board of Directors is below:

  • Matt Clary, law offices of Matt Clary
  • Kendal Coleman, CST
  • Charles Kapur, GRCC
  • Joe Becker, Not Your Average Joe’s
  • Matt Brennan, Brennan and White
  • Iris Britt, Iris Britt Consulting
  • Steve Coniglio, Hidden Creek Country Club
  • John Deardorff, Reston Hospital Center
  • Michael Delpierre, Conversion
  • Bailey Edelson, JBG Properties
  • Jame Estep, John Marshall Bank
  • Mike Franz, SOSi
  • Leila Gordon, Reston Community Center
  • Bob. Hicks, Bean Kinney & Korman
  • Mike Jennings, BEI
  • Andy Klaff, Newmark Knight Frank
  • Alex Lane, Northwest Federal Credit Union
  • Hank Lynch, Reston Association
  • Jeff Makhlouf, Sheraton Reston
  • Colin May, KME.digital
  • Mike Misleh, Veatch Commercial
  • Shane Murphy, Reed Smith LLP
  • Andrew Painter, Walsh., Colluci, Lubuley & Walsh
  • Chris Pharo, Leidos
  • Kenyetta Price, Boston Properties
  • Anne Rosenblum, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority
  • Laura Siko, Northern Virginia Community College
  • Kevin Taylor, CDB-X
  • Gordon. Thrall, ,Geurnsey Office Supplies
  • Monica Tressler, Sandy Spring. Bank
  • Tyson Warren, Hyatt Regency Reston
  • Carrie Welch, Comfort Works
  • Charlene Wheeless, Charlene Wheeless, LLC
  • Kerrie Wilson, Cornerstones

Charles Kapur, president and CEO of GRCC said the chamber has been “blessed with corporate citizens” who accepted nominations to serve as members of the board.

Each year, the chamber’s membership elected the chair-elect and new and re-appointed members of the Board of Directors. This year’s slate was unanimously approved by GRCC’s membership, Kapur said.

Photo via Myers Public Relations, LLC

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Today is the last day for reporter Ashley Hopko at Local News Now, our parent company.

Hopko joined Reston now a year ago as part of the Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship. During her fellowship, Hopko covered a wide range of stories from profiling locals helping vulnerable populations during the pandemic to interviewing county officials.

“While writing for Reston Now, I loved feedback — both the negative and positive — from commentators because it showed that they were engaged in our work,” Hopko told us about her experience reporting hyperlocal news. “We have the chance to amplify the concerns of community members and call out oddities.”

Hopko split her time between Reston Now and our sister site Tysons Reporter for most of her fellowship. When not reporting for the two sites, Hopko worked on a media project documenting the challenges Mexican journalists face, which won first place in the fellowship’s competition.

“The biggest takeaway from my fellowship with Poynter-Koch was the importance of transparent reporting and how to help people become media-literate,” Hopko said. “By properly crediting sources and links, people can learn to seek accurate information and form their own opinions on key topics.”

Photo by Rob Wallace/courtesy Ashley Hopko

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Updated at 10:45 a.m. — Corrects reference to Lake Braddock Secondary School.

As the Fairfax County public school system prepares for the fall, some teachers’ unions are expressing concern about how safe in-person learning might be during the pandemic.

To accommodate both families and teachers, FCPS asked both groups to fill out a form by July 10, stating whether they would prefer to stick with a distance learning plan or return to the classroom. After this date, many teachers will find out if they will be required to return or stay at home.

The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers and Fairfax Education Association released a press release calling for increased transparency and a clearly outlined health plan for reopening.

Though teachers are allowed to request a full-time remote-learning position, this cannot be guaranteed according to the current plan.

“Teacher placements will be contingent upon student enrollment numbers in the online program; teacher placement decisions will be tiered by individual teacher’s medical need, family medical need, and preference,” FCPS documents said.

Additionally, teachers with medical conditions that increase the risk of COVID-19 will be given “flexible leave and telework assignments,” the plan said.

David Walrod, who teaches 7th grade at Lake Braddock Secondary School, said as a member of the teacher’s union that he wishes teachers would get of choice of whether or not they work remotely.

“Personally I’m hoping that I get a remote position because personally I don’t feel that they will be able to keep schools as safe as they think they are,” he said, adding that he is also concerned for his own young daughter.

“Our educators are overwhelmingly not comfortable returning to schools. They fear for their lives, the lives of their students and the lives of their families,” Tina Williams, the president of Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, said in the press release.

At the school board meeting last Tuesday (June 23), the board members discussed various concerns and options for reopening.

Melanie Meren, the Hunter Mill District representative on the board, spoke on behalf of teachers during the meeting. “We cannot skimp on [personal protective equipment],” she said. “We need to advocate for that if we don’t have the funds.”

Not everyone will be satisfied with whatever is ultimately decided, Karl Frisch, who represents the Providence District, told his fellow board members.

Frisch said that he’s spent almost 100 hours with local families, community members and stakeholders discussing options for the upcoming school year. “There is no perfect solution to this problem,” he said. “We must consider any contingency that may come and meet us.”

FCPS officials have said that input from local health and state health officials will inform reopening plans.

Superintendent Scott Brabrand told the school board earlier this month that he is worried about the realities of social distancing in schools and wants to prevent staff from resigning over safety concerns.

FCFT’s press release called for teachers and educators in the county to speak up about their concerns.

Walrod said that he hopes Fairfax County will adopt a new model like the one for a school district in Pennsylvania where all students and staff will be working and learning remotely for 75 days into the school year until the school board members have a clearer understanding of COVID-19.

Walrod said that there is a chance parents will overwhelmingly want their kids to take advantage of distance learning so there will be less of a demand for in-person lessons.

Kimberly Adams, the president of the Fairfax Education Association, said in a press release that the group is advocating for remote learning until a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 is available.

“All staff should be provided the ability to continue virtual instruction as long as there is community spread of this virus,” Adams said. “We will continue to make every possible effort to assist FCPS in developing a plan that keeps health and safety first.”

Photo courtesy Dan Dennis on Unsplash

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Several local businesses and restaurants have laid off workers due to COVID-19 pandemic in recent months.

Businesses filed notices through the Virginia Employment Commission, which requires businesses with more than 100 employees to provide advanced notice of layoffs affecting more than 50 employees or business closings.

In Reston and Herndon, six businesses filed notices, totaling more than 450 layoffs.

Nearly all notices filed with the VEC were attributed to the pandemic. The following is a breakdown of major layoffs since March 1 through today:

Bartaco let go of 175 employees across its Fairfax and Reston locations.

Photo by Chris Gordon/Flickr

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GNC plans to close its location at North Point Village Center after the company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early last week.

The vitamins and supplements retailer plans to close between 800 and 1,200 stores across the country.

A company representative told Reston Now the Reston location, which is located at 1456 North Point Drive, will likely shutter its doors within the next two weeks. An exact closing date has not yet been determined.

In a June 23 letter to its customers, the company stated that the COVID-19 pandemic “created a situation where we are unable to accomplish our refinancing and the abrupt change in the operating environment has had a negative impact on our business.”

Here’s more from the letter:

As a result, we felt the best opportunity for us to continue to improve our capital structure and address certain operational issues was to restructure through a Chapter 11 reorganization. This gives us the opportunity to improve our balance sheet while continuing to advance our business strategy, right-size our corporate store portfolio, and strengthen our brands to protect the long-term sustainability of our company.

Other Virginia locations are also closing, including the stores in Vienna, Sterling, Franklin and Charlottesville.

Photo by Laura Crielly

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As people prepare the 4th of July, festivities might look different this year as many places are alternating their plans or canceling events due to the threat COVID-19.

The Town of Herndon announced on its website that it canceled its yearly festivities, which usually features fireworks, craft activities, live music, family games and bingo.

Ongoings include a variety of community-organized events.

For families missing the typical parades and bright displays, they can take part in a drive-through celebratory 4th of July event on Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m., an event page said.

People can meet at Springvale Street and Cavalcade Road in Great Falls to join the fun.

“Drive through in the safety of your vehicle while you scan for scavenger hunt items, wave to your neighbors and vote for your favorites,” the event page said.

Great Falls Swim & Tennis Club is offering a celebration including a full meal, poolside activities, swimming and a DJ from 1 to 4 p.m. This event is free for members and $25 for non-member guests, the site said.

Mon Ami Gabi is offering brunch for people to enjoy with friends and family, according to a Facebook event.

Brunch hours are available from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday (July 4) and Sunday (July 5) from 12 to 9 p.m.Reservations can be made at 703-707-0233.

PJ Mulligans is hosting a free 4th of July Concert with Spiral Trine for community members from 6 to 9 p.m. at 2310 Woodland Crossing Drive. The band will be performing a combination of original and cover songs, the event page said.

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Several local companies are among the 15 tech employers listed for an upcoming virtual job hosted by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

The fair is targeted to mid-career tech professionals, especially ones with security clearances, and the companies represented will have a total of 3,000 open jobs in the Northern Virginia region, according to FCEDA.

“While the fair is primarily for those in tech fields including data science, software engineering, IT, cybersecurity, defense and aerospace, some companies are featuring non-tech positions such as marketing, sales, finance, human resources and legal,” according to FCEDA.

Companies signed up for the fair include:

Previously, FCEDA hosted a virtual career fair for recent college graduates.

“Every job represents a household, so when we connect people — whether newly minted graduates or those midway through a career — to thousands of open jobs, we are really improving lives, saving households and communities,” Victor Hoskins, FCEDA’s president and CEO, said in a press release.

People will be able to browse companies in a virtual lobby before entering “virtual booths” to view open positions and video conference with recruiters.

The job fair will be hosted on Tuesday, July 14, from 1-4 p.m. People can register online.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

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Though the work to update Reston’s comprehensive plan was slowed by COVID-19, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said that a new committee created to find solutions to issues and demands is still making progress.

The roughly 28-person task force started meeting in early April, a month after originally planned, and has spent over eight hours in meetings, according to Alcorn.

So far, the committee has touched on topics such as:

  • ways to promote public art
  • how to encourage diversity and inclusion
  • long term population accommodations
  • community space and land use

Since Alcorn’s election, he said that the revision of the comprehensive plan was his top priority. “There were a lot of things that were left out and need additional attention.”

As phase two of the Silver Line makes the area more accessible to the greater D.C. region, it has “coincided with some really strong economic activity,” Alcorn said at a press conference on June 25. He added that the number of technology companies and government contractors has increased, meaning that the original community plan put forward by Bob Simon is in need of revision to accommodate changes.    

Though some see economic growth as a positive opportunity others disagree since they don’t like the “cookie-cutter, industrialized subdivisions that we have seen around many metropolitan areas in the country,” Alcorn said, noting that Simon’s idea focused around a tight-knit community feel.

“We’ve been through a time where different parties have staked out their territory and if anything this is like a truth and reconciliation process,” Alcorn said, adding that it has been a type of  “growth war.”

Despite concerns of community members, Alcorn said he sees an opportunity to build other hubs around transit centers in the area that are responsibly designed, sustainable and attractive so they don’t negatively affect the preexisting Reston community.

In the comprehensive plan, there is currently no population plan for Reston’s build-out and though there has been an attempt to take that into consideration in zoning ordinances, this isn’t enough, according to Alcorn — since it doesn’t cover the entirety of the community.

Though Alcorn didn’t get into the weeds about public art at the committee meeting, he said this will help to promote the original ideals and morals of the area, noting that he wants to stay away from the “industrialized” feel.

Going forward, Alcorn said he sees finalized changes being made to the comprehensive plan around the middle of 2021. “That’s the target, to have this wrapped up next year.”

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Reston Association’s Board of Directors will meet today (Thursday) to discuss a concept plan for the Hunters Woods Ballfield and plans to reopen pools for this year’s season.

The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Design consultant Kimley-Horn created several concept images to repurpose the Hunters Woods ballfield, which is located behind Reston Community Center Hunters Woods. Design sketches show the space would largely be maintained as open space, with the addition of trees and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

The Hunters Woods Neighborhood Coalition is encouraging RA to repurpose the ball field, which is no longer used by the Reston-Herndon Little League. So far, a pathway lighting project north of the Hunters Woods Village Center is under consideration, with roughly 16 light poles at a cost of $100,000.

The board could approve a concept plan, which would then be considered by RA’s Design Review Board and county planners. More details are expected at the meeting.

RA will also discuss plans to open more pools. So far, only four pools will reopen on June 29, with several restrictions in place. The full agenda is available online.

File photo

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F45, an Australian fitness gym, is planning to open its doors in Reston Town Center in the fall.

The gym is expected to open in September at 11840 Freedom Drive, according to a company spokesperson. Construction is expected to begin as early as next week.

Another F45 location is set to open in early 2021 at Faraday Park (1831 Michael Faraday Drive), which is still under construction.

The retail space is expected to be handed over to the company in September. F45 plans to time the opening with the leasing of the new apartments.

“So far, we are moving according to schedule,” the spokesperson said.

F45 relies on training on the following methods: high-intensity interval training, circuit training and functional training.

Photo via Khalid Mojadidi

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