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As Temperatures Dip, Local Shelter Offers Additional Shelter Services

As temperatures dip and the risk of hypothermia increases, local cold weather and hypothermia prevention programs are coming into full swing.

Beginning this month, all three of Fairfax County’s emergency centers that serve single adults instituted a “no turn-away policy.” Through March 31, the North County Human Services Building on 1850 Cameron Glen Drive will be open to individuals through the hypothermia prevention program.

Additional sleeping space will also be available at the Cornerstones’ Embry Rucker Community Shelter, a 70-bed residential shelter, throughout the winter season. Services include hot dinner, breakfast, bagged lunches, showers, laundry, bus tokens and basic self-care supplies.

On Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m., the organization will also provide employment services at the main shelter. The shelter, which opened in 1987, has 42 beds for families, 28 beds for unaccompanied adults and 10 beds for cold weather overflow.

If an unsheltered individual is seen at night who may be at risk of hypothermia, the Fairfax County non-emergency phone line accepts calls at 703-691-2131. Emergency personnel will determine the shelter most suitable for the individual as needed.

For more information, contact Cornerstones at [email protected] or [email protected] 

To volunteer or donate, please contact Susan Alger at [email protected].

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Concerns About Library, Public Services Dominate RTC North Feedback

The future status of the Reston Regional Library was frequently brought up by attendees of a community meeting Wednesday regarding Fairfax County’s plans for the Reston Town Center North development.

Project coordinator Joan Beacham, of the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, said both the library and the Embry Rucker Shelter will be demolished to make room for the first stage of development. DPWES hopes that construction on the project will begin in 2022.

“We want to make sure everyone understands this is a long-term development,” she said. “Things aren’t going to happen right away.”

What is planned to happen when work does begin, Beacham said, is the transfer of the library and the shelter into temporary facilities. The temporary library, she said, would top out at 6,000 square feet — a figure that caused great concern to residents, as the current library is about five times that size.

“The Reston library has over 1,000 people a day that go to it,” said Dennis Hays. “We’re talking about 1,000 Restonians a day who will not have a [full-sized] library to go to for an indeterminate amount of time.”

Hays and other residents suggested the Request for Proposals for development ask applicants to commit to building the new facilities before demolishing the existing ones. The new library, Beacham said, is planned to be 39,000 square feet and exist on the first one or two floors of a new high rise at the same location. The new shelter, planned to be more than twice the size of the current one, is proposed for a similar “urban form” layout.

In the redevelopment, the 50-acre area — bounded by Baron Cameron Avenue, Town Center Parkway, New Dominion Parkway and Fountain Drive — would be realigned into nine parcels, which would then be rezoned into urban blocks. The first two parcels slated for redevelopment are Blocks 7 and 8, which include the library and the shelter.

“We feel in order to move forward with 7 and 8, temporary facilities will be required,” Beacham said. “This is the way that public facilities are repaired and replaced all over the county — it’s not just a situation with Reston.”

Both Beacham and Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said replacing the library and shelter is a priority of the project, as they are outdated facilities in need of additional capacity.

In total, Blocks 7 and 8 are planned to include:

  • 360-420 market-rate residential units and 30 county-supportive housing units
  • 174,000-244,000 square feet of private retail development
  • 28,000 square feet of office space for nonprofits
  • the 39,000-square foot library
  • a 25,000-square foot shelter

Future plans for other blocks in RTC North include the development of a 90,000-square foot recreation center by the Fairfax County Park Authority, replacement of the North County Human Services Center, and a 6-acre central green space among 10 total acres of open space. Redevelopment of the whole area is expected to take more than a decade.

Residents who attended Wednesday night’s meeting also challenged county staff on promoting a population increase through the project without addressing needed amenities such as additional schools, fire stations and parks. Many who spoke on the subject have brought up the same issues during community meetings regarding the county Department of Planning and Zoning’s proposal to increase the overall population density in Reston’s Planned Residential Community (PRC) District.

In response to the concerns about schools, Beacham said developers are required to donate $12,000 per projected new student to Fairfax County Public Schools. That money is turned over to the school board’s capital improvements fund.

“The school board can use that money however they want, as far as their Capital Improvement Program,” she said. “Fairfax County Schools tracks population, they’re aware of this development.”

Gayle Hooper, landscape architect for the Fairfax County Park Authority, told citizens that there is a “broader plan” for new parks in the area. The Comprehensive Plan calls for three new athletic fields to be constructed in Reston’s TSAs.

“There is a need for more fields than that, but [the Plan] points out the potential that those fields should be specifically in those locations,” she said. “Developers, when they come in, have a requirement to meet that need. In Reston, they have a prescribed dollar amount per square footage of development they need to pay that will go toward athletic field construction or improvement to existing fields.”

Hooper said there is a plan to expand fields at Baron Cameron Park and add lighting and synthetic turf, which “greatly expands the amount of play you can get throughout the season and within the hours of the day.”

Reston resident Tammi Petrine, though, said there is a lack of land within the corridor to construct new schools or to provide parks that are walkable for urban residents.

“I go to Reston [Planning & Zoning committee] and I see the applications that come through, and every one of them passes the buck — ‘No, we’re not providing a field, we have 34 acres but we’re building curb to curb,'” she said. “This is what we’re getting. It’s reality versus theory.”

The presentation from Wednesday evening’s meeting is available on the DPWES website. Beacham said anyone interested in submitting further comments about the plan can email [email protected] within the next week.

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Good Causes Get Gift of Cookies Thanks to Reston Girl Scout

Girl Scout cookies are finding good homes thanks to a Reston girl with a charitable heart.

Julia Cartwright, a member of Girl Scout Troop 753, has donated several cases of cookies each to the Reston District Station of the Fairfax County Police Department, the North Point station of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter.

Her father, Alan, said Julia is one of the top Girl Scout cookie sellers in the organization’s Nation’s Capital chapter. The 13-year-old has sold 1,113 boxes this year — all through her own work, her dad emphasized. And when people said they didn’t want any, she offered another option.

“She would ask if they’d like to make a donation to a charitable cause,” Alan said. “With those donations, she turns that into cookies and she gets to make the choice of where they go.”

The Herndon Middle School seventh-grader has done this for the past few years, her dad said. In previous years, she has donated cookies to the U.S. military. This year, she chose to help community organizations in the Reston area.

Alan said the recipients of Julia’s cookie donations this year were all very appreciative of the gesture. He said the firemen insisted on taking a picture with Julia, and the police station has forwarded her information on to the Fairfax County police chief so he can extend his gratitude.

Through her family’s church, Fairfax Church of Christ, Julia has also provided charitable donations to the Washington, D.C., homeless cause. In addition, she volunteers time removing invasive plant species at Walker Nature Center, and she and her parents are all planning to volunteer with the Embry Rucker Shelter in future as well.

“She has a heart of gold,” her father said. “She’s always trying to help others.”

Pictures courtesy Alan Cartwright

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Numerous Local Projects Among County’s Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan

The Fairfax County Planning Department will hear presentations Thursday on the advertised FY 2018-2022 Capital Improvement Program, with a number of Reston projects on the list.

The largest local project in the plan is the reconfiguration and redevelopment of Reston Town Center North, which includes replacing and redeveloping the North County Human Services Center, as well as the Reston Regional Library and Embry Rucker Shelter. An indoor recreation center is also expected to be part of the project.

From the plan:

Reston Town Center North (Infrastructure and Blocks 7 & 8) (Hunter Mill District): Approximately $76,000,000 is proposed to rezone and develop the overall master plan that reconfigures and provides integrated redevelopment of approximately 50 acres currently owned by Fairfax County and Inova at Reston Town Center North (south of Baron Cameron Avenue between Town Center Parkway and Fountain Drive), including the replacement of Reston Regional Library, Embry Rucker Shelter, currently on this site, and development of additional facilities to accommodate Human Services needs. The plan maximizes the development potential consistent with the needs of the community and in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan Amendment approved in February 2013.

North County Human Services Center (Hunter Mill District): $125,000,000 to fund a replacement facility for the existing North County Human Services Center located in Reston. The existing facility is within the redevelopment master plan area known as Reston Town Center North which will be reconfigured for an integrated redevelopment consistent with the needs of the community and in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan Amendment approved in February 2013. The proposed North County Human Services Center will also support a consolidation of existing leased facility spaces in the service area into one Human Services site to provide enhanced and integrated multidisciplinary services to residents in the western part of the County.

The 47-acre area is bounded by Baron Cameron Avenue, Fountain Drive, Town Center Parkway and Bowman Towne Drive.

The projects are expected to be paid for by Economic Development Authority bond financing, according to the report. Approximately $10 million will be required in FY2018 to fund the county’s share of the agreement with Inova that will provide for the real estate exchange, as well as design and construction of the campus site infrastructure.

Funding of $12,000,000 was approved as part of the fall 2016 Human Services/Community Development Bond Referendum for the shelter, and $10,000,000 was approved as part of the 2012 Library Bond Referendum for the library.

Also among the five-year plan are the continuation of current plans including the Silver Line expansion, the redevelopment of the Crescent Apartments site at Lake Anne, upgrades to Reston and Fox Mill fire stations, the addition to South Lakes High School, and improvements to Reston Community Center and the natatorium.

The workshop and public hearing on the Capital Improvement Plan will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center.

Reston Town Center North map (2015) via Fairfax County

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Capitol Steps Fundraiser Nets Nearly $300K for Community Shelter

2017 Capitol Steps fundraiser/Chip McCrea Photography

The 34th annual Capitol Steps fundraiser performance Sunday raised nearly $300,000 for Cornerstones, to help families in the Embry Rucker Community Shelter.

Capitol Steps, a D.C.-based political satire troupe, puts on the benefit show each year. More than 600 people attended the event Sunday night at the Hyatt Regency Reston.

“We are thrilled to see a full house, especially after this year in politics,” said Sarah Leonard, chair of Cornerstones’ Board of Directors. “You help Cornerstones accomplish our mission to encourage stability, empowerment and hope. It takes thousands to help within our connected community and for each of you we are grateful.”

At the end of the night, a total of $294,697 had been raised for the cause. According to information provided by Cornerstones, that money will be used “to meet critical needs of those in the [Embry Rucker] shelter as they progress toward affordable housing.”

Since 1970, Cornerstones has reached out to 250,000 neighbors in need, helping them overcome tough economic times in an already high cost-of-living region. Through advocacy and support services, it connects its clients to the resources they need to help build more stable families and self-sufficient lives. It also strives to provide a comprehensive array of programs that solve urgent or on-going requirements for housing, childcare, food or financial assistance.

Photo courtesy Chip McCrea Photography

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Governor-Elect McAuliffe Lends a Hand to Homeless in Reston

Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe and family spent part of Thanksgiving Day serving breakfast at Reston’s Embry Rucker Community Shelter.

“Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, wife Dorothy and children were there to learn firsthand about the daily challenges of people who are homeless– and the work of the many extraordinary nonprofits and Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness in finding solutions,” said Kerrie Wilson, CEO of Cornerstones, the local nonprofit that operates the shelter.

“These are hard times for many in our community, but every day we see people willing to come together and offer a hand,” she said. “Volunteering is not something new for the McAuliffe family, but it was a generous gift that reflects the importance of these issues and gave hope to those under our roof.”

McAuliffe will be sworn in in January.

Wilson also said she commends outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell for his work helping the homeless. McDonnell was the first sitting Governor in Virginia to establish a committee on affordable housing and homelessness, she notes.

“While not all of these recommendations were funded, much of the policy/strategy level work has been implemented through some of the priority setting and state level contracting for homeless services, a Virginia Housing Trust Fund was established and some initial seed funding from the mortgage settlement provided a start (it needs real funding),” Wilson said.  “I hope that among the many areas that Governor-elect McAuliffe and his family will embrace – as they discussed on the campaign trail – hunger/food insecurity, mental health, homeless/workforce housing – can build on these efforts.”

Photos courtesy of Cornerstones.

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