Loudoun Prepares for Metro — As the opening of phase two of the Silver Line nears, Loudoun County is preparing by widening two-lane roads and attempting to thin out congestion. The county is the state’s fastest-growing jurisdiction. [WTOP]
Parks Authority Board Chair Reelected — Bill Bouie, who represents the Hunter Mill District, will return as the chairman of the Fairfax County Park Authority. [Inside NOVA]
Metro to Phase Out Old Farecards — Metro is installing new and improved fare gates, one-third of which are complete. The gates will feature mobile pay on Appel iOS and Android. Older SmaTrip cards will be phased out by the end of the year. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
School Board Approves New Calendar — The Fairfax County School Board has adopted a new calendar for the next school year. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Orthodox Good Friday and Diwali were designated as student holidays. [FCPS]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
Metrobus Services Returns Next Month — Metrobus will resume its regular services on Feb. . The service has been operating on a modified Saturday schedule with 75 percent of normal weekday service — since January. While absenteeism remains high, Metro said that employees are returning to work following their quarantine periods. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Park Authority Names New Officers — The Fairfax County Park Authority Board has elected new officers for this year. Bill Bouie, who represents the Hunter Mill District will return to his 14th term as chairman. [Fairfax County Government]
Westbound Route 7 Traffic Shift to Begin — Starting on or about Feb. 3, a lane shift to the south between Carpers Farm way and Colvin Run Forest Drive is planned. Crews are continuing the construction of the pedestrian underpass at Colvin Run Mill Park. [Virginia Department of Transportation]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
St. James Performance Club Coming Soon — The Springfield complex is opening a second location in Reston Town Center this spring. Vim & Vector, a snack bar that serves smoothies and acai bowels, will also open at that location. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Charges Announced in 1987 Cold Case Murder in Herndon — Through a regional law enforcement effort, the Fairfax County Police Department announced that Charles Helem, 52, has been charged for two cold case homicides that happened in Herndon and Prince George’s County, Md. [FCPD]
County Seedling Sale to Begin –The annual Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District seedling sale begin March 1. All species sold are native to Virginia and help bees survive. [Fairfax County Government]
Local Speed Skater Returns to Olympics — Reston’s own Maame Biney heads to the Beijing Winter Olympics. She catches up with Washingtonian magazine to discuss her training, mental health and goals for the competition. [Washingtonian]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
Park Authority Meetings Go Virtual — The Fairfax County Park Authority’s board meetings have returned to virtual format due to current social distancing recommendations and safety concerns related to the surge of COVID-19 cases. [Fairfax County Government]
County Awards $16 Million in Funds to Local Businesses — The county dispersed $16 million in grant funds to 1,016 county businesses that were adversely impacted by the pandemic. Grants ranged between $1,500 and $207,000. The program is called PIVOT and is run through the Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives. [Fairfax County Government]
Man Charged After Two Shooting Incidents — One man is dead and another seriously injured after two separate shootings on Jan. 8. Jordan Eugene Chochran, 20, of Alexandria, was charged in connection with the incidents, which happened in Hybla Valley. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
See Snow Photos from Around Reston — “That’s the other thing about winter storms. They make everything look so beautiful. Here are some of the photos readers from the Reston area submitted to Patch.” [Patch]
Metro Announces Changes in Response to Omicron — Rising COVID-19 infections among Metro employees have fueled a staffing shortage, prompting the transit system to reduce weekday bus service to its typical Saturday schedule starting on Jan. 10. WMATA will also let bus drivers bypass potential riders who aren’t wearing a mask. [DCist]
Break-in Reported in Herndon — Sometime overnight from Dec. 30-31, an “unknown number of subjects” broke glass doors and windows of a building in the 800 block of Ferndale Avenue, which could be either the Herndon Community Center or St. Joseph Catholic Church and School. Nothing appears to have been taken, but the case remains under police investigation. [Herndon Police]
Summer Camp Registration Begins Next Week — “Registration for summer camps begins Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. The Fairfax County Park Authority offers more than 1,000 summer day camp options for kids ages 3 to 17 at dozens of locations at Rec Centers, nature centers, historic sites, lakefront parks, golf courses and schools.” [FCPA]
Water Mine Hiring Season on the Way — “Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole has a splashtastic summer job opportunity! From lifeguards and park attendants, more than 200 positions need to be filled. Virtual interviews start Jan. 15; open hires start in March.” [FCPA/Twitter]
Local Plastic Bag Tax to Begin — At grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores, a five-cent tax will be charged for each single-use plastic bag for customer purchases. The Northern Virginia Waste Management Board is working on outreach to help with the transition. [Patch]
County Launches New Photo Contest — The First Hike Fairfax contest returns next year with more categories for photographers to submit entrants. Participants can submit photos from any trails managed by the Fairfax County Park Authority. [Fairfax County Government]
Christmas Tree Recycling Underway — Christmas trees will be collected from Jan. 3 to 14. Lights, decorations and stands must be removed to ensure trees can be collected. [Reston Patch]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Maryland Company Acquires Reston-based Company — MasterPeace Solutions, a Columbia-based cyber company has acquired Full Suite Solutions, a company that provides software to intelligence agencies. [Technical.ly]
Getting to Know the New Fairfax County Park Authority Chief — Jai Cole, who came the Fairfax County Park Authority’s new executive director last month, wants to make the park system more accessible for all. She started her career working at the pool at Reston Community Center, a position she says was one of the best jobs she ever had. [Inside NOVA]
Cyber Tip Leads to Child Porn Arrest — Brendan Lynch, 21, of Alexandria, was arrested and charged with four counts of solicitation of a minor and 26 counts of possession of child porn. He worked as an aquatics center at several recreation centers managed by the Fairfax County Park Authority. [FCPD]
Reston Resident to Lead County Park Authority — Jai Cole, a Restonian, has been named the executive director of the Fairfax County Park Authority. Cole has more than two decades of leadership experience with recreation and park agencies. [Fairfax County Government]
Finland-based Company Choses Reston for North America Headquarters — Cloudpermit, a software company, has selected Reston as its North American headquarters. The company’s CEO says that Virginia was the right choice because of the “the highest concentration of tech talent in the U.S.” [PR Newswire]
Health Department to Improve COVID-19 Contact Interviews — The county’s health department is working on improving how to expedite contact with students who have been exposed to COVID-19 but haven’t been notified by health department staff. [Fairfax County Government]
Virginia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Now in Effect — “A mandate that most of Virginia’s state workers will have to be vaccinated or agree to regular COVID-19 testing is taking effect. Gov. Ralph Northam’s order kicks in Wednesday and will apply to more than 120,000 executive branch employees.” [Associated Press/WTOP]
Reston Police Community Meeting Tonight — “Join the @FairfaxCountyPD Reston District Station for a Community Information Forum on Thursday, Sept. 2, 7 p.m. The virtual meeting will cover statistics, trends, cases from the previous month, and discuss upcoming events.” [Supervisor Walter Alcorn/Twitter]
Lake Anne Elementary Postpones Back-to-School Night — “Many families have asked for a virtual Back to School Night because people are hesitant to be around large crowds. In response to that request, we will be changing our Back to School Night to a virtual format on Tuesday, September 14, 2021…More details will follow in next week’s News You Choose.” [FCPS]
Park Authority to Honor Frying Pan Volunteers — The Fairfax County Park Authority Board will give Ronnie Billodeaux, Ed Robichaud, and Steve Williams the 2021 Harold L. Strickland Partnership and Collaboration Award, which recognizes teamwork in bringing state-of-the-art facilities to parks. The three volunteer wagon ride drivers worked over the winter to repair and expand picnic facilities at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon. [FCPA]
Photo by Ed Schudel/Twitter
For one night this fall, Dr. Jeffrey Kretsch will get to bask in the spotlight as well as the starlight that more regularly illuminates his work at the Turner Farm Observatory Park in Great Falls.
Kretsch is one of three volunteers — and the only individual — who will be honored by the Fairfax County Park Authority with its 2021 Elly Doyle Park Service Awards, which recognize community members and organizations that contribute their time and expertise to support the county’s park system.
As a member of the Analemma Society, a nonprofit that promotes astronomy, Kretsch has logged more than 1,784 hours of volunteer service at Observatory Park since 2012, according to the park authority’s news release.
“I was surprised to hear of getting the award, and greatly appreciate the recognition,” Kretsch said in a statement to Reston Now. “I enjoy doing this, and get satisfaction helping bring our programs to the public. I work with a lot of volunteers and park staff who make this possible.”
The Analemma Society works with the park authority to host public, after-hours viewing sessions at Turner Farm’s roll-top observatory and classroom almost every Friday. The group also organizes special sessions for celestial events like the Perseid meteor shower that filled the sky earlier this month.
When the observatory shut down last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kretsch helped the park authority pivot to virtual programming, including by leading lectures and encouraging other volunteers to follow suit.
According to the park authority, he also “spent considerable time” helping the park authority fill out an application to get Observatory Park designated as an International Dark Sky Place, a program that started in 2001 to recognize parks, communities, and other sites that preserve the night sky for scientific, natural, educational, or recreational purposes.
When Observatory Park reopened for the public viewing sessions on June 18, Kretsch could once again share his interest in stargazing and astronomy with other community members in person, rather than from behind a computer screen.
“Interacting with families and the kids is the best part,” he said. “I have been doing this awhile now, long enough that every once in a while an adult comes up to me and says they remember coming as a child and how it inspired them to go on. That is what is the most rewarding.”
The other recipients of this year’s Elly Doyle awards are:
- The Friends of Accotink Creek, which helps protect the local watershed by removing trash, planting native trees, and supporting educational programs
- Volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ D.C. South Mission, who spent the past year clearing invasive species from an area at Lake Accotink Park in Springfield and replaced them with native plants
Established on Dec. 20, 1988, the awards are named after former Park Authority Board of Directors Chairman Elly Doyle for her “years of outstanding service toward the preservation of parkland and establishment of natural and recreational areas for the benefit of Fairfax County residents,” according to the FCPA news release.
This year’s winners will be recognized with a virtual ceremony in November. Their names will also be added to a bronze plaque at the Fairfax County Government Center.
Monday, August 23
- Chair Yoga (1 p.m.) — Over the last 18 months, we’ve been sitting in a lot of chairs. Now, learn how to do yoga in them. For students and workers who find themselves sitting a lot, here’s chance to turn that boring place to sit into a exercise location.
Tuesday, August 24
- Eighteen Days in New York (7:30-9 p.m.) — Local author Bill Lewers discusses his latest book, a historical fiction framed by the backdrop of the 1924 Democratic Convention. This is a make-up event from Aug. 10 and will be held in-person at Patrick Henry Library in Vienna. Lewers will be available for book signings as well.
Wednesday, August 25
- Dinosaur Explore (9 a.m.) — Bring the little ones for this two-day program on dinosaurs. Learn about fossils, birds, archaeology, and how dinosaurs compare to animals we can find locally today. This program takes place outside with limited attendance at the Hidden Oaks Nature Center.
Thursday, August 26
- Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen (7:30-8:30 p.m.) — This Grammy-nominated bluegrass band hits the stage at Frying Pan Farm Park for a Thursday night concert, mandolin in hand. In case of last-minute cancellation due to weather, call the hotline at 703-324-SHOW (7469) one hour prior to show start.
Friday, August 27
- An Act of God (8 p.m.) — The latest production by Herndon’s NextStop Theater Company is a comedy sent by the Almighty themselves. “An Act of God” is a 90-minute production where mankind’s greatest questions get answered. All attendees must show proof of vaccination as well as wear masks while inside the theater.
- Rock the Block (6:30-9:30 p.m.) — With only a few more left for the season, the City of Fairfax’s Rock the Block concert series is pulling out all the stops with live music, food vendors, beer garden, and more. Bring a blanket and chair, and enjoy this week’s performance from local ’80s tribute band The Reflex.
Saturday, August 28
- Historic Baseball (10 a.m.) — Learn how baseball used to be played…a century ago. Here’s a chance to sew your own baseball and play a game using “Knickerbocker” rules. This program takes place at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly and is intended for those 7 to 14 years old.
- Reptile Expo (9 a.m.-3 p.m.) — Hopefully, you’re not afraid of snakes, because the Northern Virginia Reptile Expo is back. Head out to Manassas in Prince William County to get your fill of lizards, snakes, turtles, and alligators. You could even bring your own reptile to show off, as long as you follow the rules.
Sunday, August 29
- A Little Charm From Across the Pond (7 p.m.) — Bring a picnic to Reston Town Square Park to hear one of Britain’s most well-known flutists, Jonathan Snowden.
A nonprofit dedicated to helping people with disabilities has formally submitted plans to Fairfax County for a new program that will operate out of the Ellmore Farmhouse in Herndon’s Frying Pan Farm Park.
ServiceSource signed a 29-year lease for the property at 2739 West Ox Road on May 24 after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the nonprofit as the newest addition to the park authority’s Resident Curator Program earlier that month.
Now, county planners are reviewing a special exception application to permit an adult day support center at the farmhouse, so ServiceSource can establish a Long-Term Community Integration Services program with classes, training, and other services for adults with developmental disabilities.
“This application presents a unique opportunity to collocate a meaningful community service on County parkland and appropriately renovate a historic structure,” Scott Adams, an attorney representing ServiceSource, said in a statement of justification. “The synergy of collocating the proposed facility within Frying Pan Farm Park will serve as a peaceful setting with natural and recreational amenities for the program’s participants while also serving to further activate and support the park.”
Filed on Aug. 16, the application proposes allowing about 15 clients and six staff members at the Ellmore Farmhouse from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays.
Intended to help integrate participants into the general community, the program will offer a variety of activities depending on the day, including:
- Community engagement activities, which could include volunteering in Frying Pan Farm Park’s visitor center and at Kidwell Farm
- Skill building and training opportunities
- Music, dance, and art classes
- Visits to local sites and small businesses
- Classes on computers, nutrition, and other life skills
- Reading groups
- Planning meetings with family members, ServiceSource employees, and Fairfax County-Falls Church Community Services Board staff
ServiceSource plans to collaborate with the Fairfax County Park Authority on additional amenities for Frying Pan Farm Park visitors, such as a “grab-and-go” cafe with snacks and drinks that would employ adults with disabilities.
The nonprofit also proposes selling candles, soap, tote bags, and other items handcrafted by people with disabilities through its self-employment program. All proceeds would go to the individuals who made the products.
As a resident curator, ServiceSource has committed to rehabilitating the two-story, 3,300 square-foot farmhouse by improving its accessibility and incorporating green building designs, while also preserving its historic character.
It is obligated to provide public access to the property, including at least one annual open house, and to deliver annual reports to the park authority, which owns the site, according to the lease, which won’t take effect until the special exception request and any other necessary permits are approved.
As part of the special exception application, ServiceSource has asked the county to waive a requirement that it provide an estimate for the maximum number of trips that will be generated by the facility, citing the limited number of participants in the proposed program.
It is also seeking waivers of any requirements to dedicate, construct, or widen existing roads and to provide a minor paved trail on the site that’s included in the county’s Comprehensive Trails Plan Map.
“The limited scope of the application does not warrant the construction of a new trail and users of the Adult Day Support Center will [be] dropped off and picked up by vehicle,” the statement of justification says. “There is an existing sidewalk that connects the Ellmore Farmhouse to the pedestrian crosswalk at West Ox Road and an existing trail along the southern portion of West Ox Road.”
Fairfax County’s final Dog Park Park Study calls for the construction of one new dog park, a timeline to build six more, and a better maintenance plan for existing parks.
After a nearly two-year long process full of surveys, drafts, and feedback, the Fairfax County Park Authority Board of Directors endorsed the final report at a meeting late last month.
The park authority initiated the study in 2019 due to the “abundance” of questions about county dog park operations and expansion, including the “perceived demand” for more parks. Feedback was gathered by surveying more than 4,600 residents.
According to a county press release, the final report will act as a “guiding document” for the county as it plans, designs, maintains, and operates dog parks going forward.
Recommendations in the final report include building at least one new dog park by 2025, though an exact location isn’t specified.
Currently, the county has 13 public dog parks, 11 of which are owned and operated by FCPA. An additional one would meet the needs of the county’s projected population in 2025, according to the park authority’s data.
Although the report doesn’t say exactly where the new park should be built, it suggests that McLean or Lake Fairfax in Reston would be good options due to demand and a lack of existing dog parks.
Park bond funding should be used for the building of the park, the report proposes.
After that dog park is completed, the report says the county should establish a schedule for constructing six more dog parks, which should meet and, even, exceed demand over the next two decades.
It recommends Baileys, Jefferson, and Bull Run planning districts as options for locations.
In terms of what those new dog parks should include, survey respondents noted that room for dogs to run, adequate number of trash cans, shade, water spickets, and parking were features most requested by residents.
The report also recommends developing a more thorough plan for park upkeep, including additional and better placement of trash cans, more frequent refilling of waste bag dispensers, and better signage. It says FCPA should encourage volunteer dog park teams to help with this upkeep.
In addition to addressing the state of dog parks countywide, the report makes recommendations for improvements to each individual dog park in that the park authority operates.
Suggested alterations range from converting a hose bib at the Baron Cameron dog park in Reston into a drinking fountain and installing a structure or planting trees to provide shade at Blake Lane in Oakton to redesigning Grist Mill Park in Alexandria to have a separate section for smaller and older dogs.
FCPA estimates that it costs just under $10,000 a year to maintain each dog park.
A draft of the report was first released in early March, which was followed by another public comment period that led the park authority to refine some of its recommendations.
For instance, the initial report suggested replacing the natural grass and dirt surface at Chandon Park in Herndon with crusher fines/washed stone dust, which is easier to maintain. The recommendation in the final report is more measured, saying that a change could be “considered” if the existing surface “causes maintenance or usability issues.”
The final dog park study report will be posted on the county’s website in September.
Reminder: Excessive Heat Watch Takes Effect Today — Fairfax County and the rest of the D.C. area will be under an Excessive Heat Watch from noon to 8 p.m. The heat index could reach 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, so the National Weather Service advises drinking plenty of fluids, staying inside as much as possible, and checking up on neighbors and relatives. [NWS]
Hunters Woods Garden Thieves Resurface — Thieves that reportedly stole thousands of dollars in plants and other materials from two community garden plots at Hunters Woods Park in May have returned with the harvest season. Reston Association increased security around the gardens, including the installation of fencing and flood lights with sensors, but the culprits evidently have not been deterred from stealing vegetables. [Patch]
No Trespassing at Silver Line Phase 2 Stations — The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority issued a reminder that, while Metro’s six impending Silver Line stations look finished, they are still closed “because of ongoing construction work and potential safety hazards.” MWAA maintains that they will “most likely” open in early 2022, but there is some conflict over the timeline with the project’s contractor. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]
County Board Endorses Dog Park Study — The Fairfax County Park Authority Board gave its support on July 28 to a countywide dog park study that calls for at least one new park and highlights concerns about inattentive visitors, insufficient water, and surface conditions at existing parks. A draft version of the study came out in March, and the full, final report will become available next month. [FCPA]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
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.