Fairfax County Parks Removes Mask Requirements for Fully Vaccinated Visitors — “Fully vaccinated Fairfax County Park Authority visitors will no longer be required to wear masks. Visitors who are not fully vaccinated and children under 12 years old will be required to wear a mask except as outlined in the Virginia Governor’s Order 79.” [Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park/LinkedIn]
Metro Service Increases Proposed — Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld is set to propose sweeping changes to both rail and bus service at a finance and capital committee meeting today (Wednesday). Possible changes include keeping stations until midnight, instead of 11 p.m., starting this summer and increasing the frequency of both trains and buses. [WTOP]
Herndon Office Plaza Sold — New York investment firm Innovatus Capital Partners has acquired the Dulles Executive Plaza office buildings at 13530 and 13560 Dulles Technology Drive in Herndon for $113.5 million. The 384,336-square-foot complex is mostly occupied by Lockheed Martin Corp., which leases half the property through 2024, and the private security company Constellis LLC, which leases 28% of the square footage under a deal that runs through 2031. [Washington Business Journal]
Reston Construction Company to Design Gas-to-Gasoline Facility — “Nacero has awarded Bechtel the Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) contract for the first natural gas-to-gasoline manufacturing facility in the United States. Nacero’s 115,000 barrel per day plant in Penwell, Texas…will be the first gasoline manufacturing plant in the world to incorporate carbon capture, sequestration, and 100% renewable power.” [Chemical Engineering]
Remember the U.S.S. Herndon — In the wake of Memorial Day, the Herndon Historical Society tells the story of the two U.S. Navy ships named after the Town of Herndon’s namesake, Commander William Lewis Herndon, a Navy officer who died in 1857 when his ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean at the hands of a devastating hurricane. [Patch]
(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Efforts to rehabilitate the Turner Farmhouse in Great Falls have been underway for a few years now, and community members will get a chance to glimpse the progress that has been made later this week.
The Fairfax County Park Authority will host a watch party at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday (May 27) for the premiere of a virtual open house to showcase the 116-year-old property, which is located at 10609 Georgetown Pike in the 52-acre Turner Farm community park.
Built in 1905 as part of the Turner family’s dairy farm, the Turner Farmhouse is now part of the park authority’s Resident Curator Program that enables individuals and nonprofit or for-profit organizations to lease historic properties in Fairfax County rent-free in exchange for a commitment to rehabilitating the property.
Preceded by the Stempson House in Lorton, the Turner Farmhouse was the second property added to the program after it was established by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2014. Other sites include Herndon’s Ellmore Farmhouse, which will be restored by the disability support services nonprofit ServiceSource.
The nonprofit Turner Farmhouse Foundation led by equestrian Sarah Kirk has been the resident curator since Nov. 1, 2018. Turner Farm primarily hosts equestrian facilities for horse riding, but it also has a picnic pavilion, a playground, and an observatory park, though the latter has been closed to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic also prompted the park authority to go virtual for the upcoming Turner Farmhouse open house, which will be streamed on the FCPA YouTube page. The agency held similar premiere watch parties for the Stempson House on May 1 and the Hannah P. Clark House in Lorton on May 15.
According to the FCPA news release, open houses are held annually for each of the Resident Curator properties under rehabilitation to fulfill the program’s requirement that “reasonable public access” be provided for the sites.
The park authority says the 3,216-square-foot, four-bedroom Turner Farmhouse “is significant due to its Queen Anne style architecture and because it exemplifies the cultural, economic, and historic heritage of the Springvale and Forestville/Great Falls communities in Northern Virginia.”
The original dairy farm exemplified the kind of farm that was prevalent in the Great Falls area during the early 20th century, according to the county.
FCPA Resident Curator Program Manager Stephanie Langton says the Turner Farmhouse Foundation has helped preserve a vital community asset that serves as a reminder of Fairfax County’s rural history.
“Two and a half years into a twenty-year lease, Ms. Kirk has made substantial improvements to the Queen Anne style farmhouse and the milk house outbuilding on the property,” Langton said by email. “Exterior and interior improvements continue at the farmhouse, with repairs to be made on the garage structure and historic crib barn remaining as well.”
Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority
Fairfax County School Board Adopts Budget — The Fairfax County Public Schools fiscal year 2022 budget includes funding for 50 new positions for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students, school-based technology specialists, and 18 new social worker and psychologist positions to meet state requirements. It also covers technology support fees previously charged to families and a 2% market rate adjustment for all employees. [FCPS]
Bike To Work Day Is Here — The D.C. area’s annual initiative to encourage people to ride a bicycle to work marks its 20th anniversary today. There will be a pit stop at Reston Station Plaza from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and one at the Herndon Town Hall Green that will be open in the morning (5:30-10 a.m.) and the afternoon (4:30-6 p.m.). [Bike to Work Day]
Northern Virginia Vets Will Get Free Rides to Vaccine Appointments — Starting in mid-June, veterans in Northern Virginia can get free transportation to and from COVID-19 vaccine appointments, thanks to a partnership between the Dulles Area Transportation Association and Northern Virginia Veterans Association. The effort to organize rides through a taxi service was made possible by $80,000 in funding from the Federal Transit Administration. [WDVM]
Reston Association to Hold Big Yard Sale on June 19 — “Join Reston Association at the Reston Community Yard Sale. Eighty families will be selling a variety of items, so this event is a great opportunity to find things for a new home or a college dorm. Sign up to have a booth or stop by to browse for great bargains.” [RA/Twitter]
Baby Panda to Make Public Debut Today — The Smithsonian will reopen the National Zoo to the public today after a six-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and visitors will get their first chance to see giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji in person. The cub, whose name translates to “little miracle,” was born on Aug. 21, 2020 and now weighs 45 pounds. [The Washington Post]
Park Authority Hiring for Summer Camp — “Rec-PAC, affiliated with the Fairfax County Park Authority, is hiring to fill over 200 positions for its six-week summer camp. Rec-PAC is hosting two open hires for job seekers interested in working as a camp counselor or camp director…Join us for the virtual open hire on Monday, June 7, 2021 anytime between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.” [FCPA]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The sublease will last 29 years as part of Fairfax County’s Resident Curator Program, which aims “to preserve historic properties by offering long-term leases to qualified tenants who agree to rehabilitate and maintain these historic resources in accordance with established preservation standards,” according to the county.
The decision followed an advertised public hearing on the motion that did not draw any comments from the community.
In accordance with the terms of the resident curator program, ServiceSource will rehabilitate the two-story, 3,300 square-foot house at 2739 West Ox Road while maintaining time-appropriate aspects of the property that was built in 1891.
“During the 29-year term of the sublease, ServiceSource will rehabilitate the building by making ADA compliant improvements, and incorporating green building designs in a manner that respects that late 19th-early 20th century heritage of the structure,” Fairfax County Facilities Management Department Assistant Director Mike Lambert said, reading a staff report to the board.
ServiceSource plans to use the historic property as a “Community Integration Center” that will offer employment for up to 15 adults through an on-site café and handicrafts specialty store.
“This is a really nice property, historic property. This is, I think, another good example and good use of the resident curator program,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said. “[I’m] very pleased this is going forward. I would note I think the resident curator program is still very much a work in progress, but very happy this particular site is working out that way.”
Originally built in 1891, the farmhouse sits on four-and-a-half acres within Frying Pan Farm Park. It is one of six properties in the resident curator program, which is managed by the Fairfax County Park Authority.
Three of the other properties are under rehabilitation — the Hannah P. Clark House in Lorton, the Stempson House in Lorton, and the Turner Farmhouse in Great Falls. The other two RCP properties to be re-advertised are the Ash Grove House and Lahey Lost Valley, which are both located in Vienna.
Photo via Fairfax County Government
Visitors who take a closer look, however, might stumble across a small, odd dome-like structure mere feet from a parked Toyota — a remnant of the key role that the Fairfax County park played in protecting the nation’s capital from a potential Russian missile attack during the Cold War.
Located 1199 Utterback Store Road, Great Falls Nike Park is one of three Fairfax County parks that were once home to anti-aircraft missiles designed to bring down Russian projectiles aimed at D.C. landmarks. The other two sites can be found along Fairfax County Parkway and in Lorton.
“We felt Russia, and other countries, had the ability to potentially attack us,” David Buchta, heritage conservation branch manager for the Fairfax County Park Authority, said. “And these missile sites were specifically designed to keep that from happening. The [parks] are certainly an interesting relic of curiosity left over from Cold War times.”
Despite the recent end of one war, the world hovered on the brink of another in the mid-20th century. The Cold War was a time of tension, particularly between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the federal government felt like they needed to protect D.C. from attack.
So, the government acquired land around the city to set up sites for their anti-aircraft missile launch systems. They were christened NIKE sites after the Greek goddess of victory.
Due to the abundance of rural land available at the time, Fairfax County became the site for three of these military installations, which all opened between 1953 and 1955.
“The idea was to create a ring of defense,” Buchta said. “The range of the missiles was pretty limited, but it was enough that we could protect the entire corridor of D.C. out to the Atlantic Ocean.”
Straddling the Herndon and Great Falls border, the Great Falls site sat on land that was owned by dairy farmer Mark Turner before the government acquired it by exercising eminent domain. Another site cropped up off of Fairfax County Parkway at what is now Pope’s Head Park. The third and largest site was on land that was part of the Lorton Prison Complex.
Each of them consisted of a launch area and a control area that was located one to three miles downrange.
The Herndon and Fairfax sites were smaller and very similar to one another, but a historical report produced by Fairfax County describes the Lorton missile site as a “double site” that served as “a national showpiece” for the NIKE program. In 1958, the missiles in Lorton were even upgraded to include nuclear warheads.
The Herndon site also boasted a special feature: a radar dome, a repeating structure that was intended to be reflective and bounce signals to another location, Buchta says. Read More
If the prospect of trillions of cicadas emerging from the earth fills you with excitement, Fairfax County’s official tourism organization has just the game for you.
Visit Fairfax has introduced a Cicada Stroll Bingo card where participants can mark off squares when they take photos of a cicada at certain locations for a chance to win insect-inspired prizes.
“While some may view the arrival of the Brood X cicadas as a nuisance, we here at Visit Fairfax choose to look at it as an exceptional opportunity for visitors and residents to witness one of Earth’s most remarkable natural occurrences – and have fun at the same time!” Visit Fairfax President and CEO Barry Biggar wrote in the press release.
Suggested sites to spot cicadas range from pieces of public art like Patrick Doughtery’s “Bird in Hand” in Reston Town Square Park to the Sully Historic Site in Chantilly. Other boxes to check include county hiking trails, shopping centers, a brewery or winery, near water, and at a restaurant (hopefully, not on your food).
Anyone who fills out two squares in their bingo card, plus the traditional “free” square in the center, can upload the card and accompanying photos for a chance to get a Cicada Care package with items like a custom cicada facemask.
Winners will be announced in May, and some of the best photos will be featured on the county’s blog and social media.
The Cicada Bingo Card was conceived as a way to showcase “road trip travel” and encourage folks to visit outdoor county attractions safely in a “quirky kind of way,” Visit Fairfax spokesperson Ali Morris says.
She adds that this is also another way to encourage residents to visit and support their favorite local business as they recover from an extremely rough last year.
The D.C. region is expected to be the epicenter for the emergence of Brood X, a brood of cicadas that emerge only every 17 years. They spend their larva years underground, which is anywhere from two to 17 years, chowing down on tree roots.
There could be millions of them buzzing around in the area in the early summer. They’re extremely loud, thanks to the sound that the males produce by rubbing their legs together to attract potential mating partners.
While they are also big as far as insects go, they’re completely harmless. In fact, their long life cycles and the fact that they are so numerous are really their only defense mechanisms from predators.
The Brood X cicadas are expected to hit peak emergence in Northern Virginia in late May through early June. While they’ll be visible and audible everywhere, parks and other natural settings will be the best place to see and hear them.
They are also edible, to an extent.
“A few are not likely to hurt pets but too many could cause digestive issues,” Fairfax County Park Authority naturalist Tammy Schwab told Reston Now last month. “They are edible by people if you’re brave enough to try it.”
Photo courtesy Visit Fairfax
Dense Fog Advisory in Effect — The advisory is one effect through 11 a.m. today. Drivers should slow down, use headlights and leave plenty of distance between vehicles. [National Weather Service]
County Reiterates Need for Testing — The county is encouraging residents to get tested in order to perform case investigations and identify close contacts — a move that prevents the spread of COVID-19. A new strain is circulating in the United States that could be 50 percent more contagious. [Fairfax County Government]
Red Cross Blood Drives Coming to Reston Soon –The American Red Cross is hosting several blood drives in the area, including one on April 2 at the YMCA in Reston. A second blood drive is planned on April 5 at Herndon Ward LDS. [Reston Patch]
County Launches Parks Storytelling Project — ‘The Park Authority’s Healthy Strides program is launching a new storytelling project called “I Love Parks” — the theme of the annual 5K/10K/Kids Dash scheduled for Saturday, May 1, 2021. Share how parks have affected your life over this past year of pandemic shutdowns by submitting a photo and your story. Your experience could become part of a slideshow that will be showcased on the Park Authority’s website and on social media.’ [Fairfax County Government]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The cicadas are coming.
17 years after their last appearance, swarms of cicadas known collectively as periodical cicada Brood X are preparing to stage a sequel this spring, with the D.C. area as the epicenter of a natural phenomenon that will encompass 15 states across the eastern and midwestern U.S.
Tammy Schwab, a naturalist and education and outreach manager for the Fairfax County Park Authority, says the insects are expected to emerge in the county around the middle of May, when the ground temperature reaches about 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Cicadas are special because of their extremely long life cycle,” Schwab told Tysons Reporter by email. “Cicadas spend 2-17 years as a larva underground feeding on the roots of trees. Most other insects have much shorter life spans.”
According to the National Wildlife Federation, adult periodical cicadas are black with orange underneath. They are just over an inch in length and boast clear, “membranous,” black-veined wings that span three inches across.
These cicadas are different from annual cicadas, which live underground for two to five years before emerging as adults, typically between May and September. Because their life cycles aren’t as closely synchronized as periodical cicadas, some annual cicadas appear every year.
Fairfax County last saw Brood X — one of 15 periodical cicada broods in the U.S. — at the scale anticipated this spring in 2004, but a handful of the insects were spotted locally in 2017.
“As part of the cicada survival strategy some of each brood can emerge between 1 and 4 years early in case some catastrophe were to destroy all the cicadas in a given emergence,” Schwab explained.
They're coming! This is the year of the 17-year cicada in our area. There will be trillions of them in early summer. They are harmless. They are loud. They are high in protein, if you're into that. They don't social distance. It's a phenomenon of nature to be enjoyed. Can't wait! pic.twitter.com/WR5qWCXq3m
— Fairfax County Parks (@fairfaxparks) March 4, 2021
In comparison, Schwab says “millions” of cicadas could blanket the D.C. region this year, though the numbers could vary across different areas depending on how much land development has occurred over the past 17 years.
Both adult and larval cicadas depend on trees for food, so they tend to be more prevalent in forested areas. However, people in more developed residential neighborhoods might notice them sooner, since the ground warms more quickly in open spaces than in the woods, according to Schwab.
She says the loss of tree cover to development “will definitely decrease populations,” but reforestation prior to an emergence could result in an increase. Fairfax County had stream bank stabilization projects at Snakeden Branch in Reston, Difficult Run in Oakton, Accotink Creek, and Cinnamon Creek in the Wolf Trap area in 2003, the year before Brood X’s last emergence.
“It would be very interesting to see if these project areas had any effect on the population,” Schwab said.
While the appearance of millions of loud, winged insects may sound alarming, cicadas are harmless for humans. The most notable impact will be on newly planted trees, which can be damaged by cicada egg laying.
Schwab advises residents to wait until the fall before planting new trees or utilize insect netting to protect their branches.
She also says people should watch what their pets are eating.
“A few are not likely to hurt pets but too many could cause digestive issues,” Schwab said. “They are edible by people if you’re are brave enough to try it.”
Photo courtesy Fairfax County Park Authority
The Fairfax County Park Authority is one step closer to planning for more dog parks in the county due to an increase in demand and the authority’s currently limited offerings.
The county recently completed a draft of a dog park study, which was initiated in 2019 and aims to assess needs and priorities for dog parks throughout the county. Feedback was gathered from a survey with more than 4,600 respondents and the study was conducted by FCPA and the Fairfax County Park Foundation.
“The purpose of the study was to assess needs and priorities for dog parks throughout the county, and to adopt strategies for long-term planning, development and management of dog parks,” FCPA wrote in a statement.
The report calls on FCPA to construct at least one dog park by 2025 in order to meet service needs in the area. Survey respondents most sought a new dog park in the planning districts of Upper Potomac and Bull Run.
Revised guidelines and standards to plan for future dog parks would also be implemented.
The county currently has 13 public dog parks, 11 of which are owned and operated by FCPA.
Future parks would be created based on geographic distribution and the overall guideline of 20-minute drive access throughout the county and 10-minute walking access in densely populated areas. The density of licensed dogs would also be considered as part of future planning efforts.
However, the study does not recommend any changes to existing dog park rules or operating hours.
Volunteering could also become a stronger component of managing dog parks. The report suggests using volunteers to manage existing and future programs more efficiently.
A virtual meeting on the draft report is set for Tuesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. A staff presentation on the findings and recommendations of the report will be followed by a public comment period.
Other recommendations circled around operations and maintenance. While the county found that maintenance standards and practices are consistent with other jurisdictions, a need for more regular maintenance — particularly waste management — was needed.
Others also flagged the need for more water sources, rule enforcement, and shade.
Comments will be accepted via email through April 23.
Photo 1 by Jay Westcott; map via handout/Fairfax County Government
Fairfax County Park Authority Issues Warning About Scam — The Fairfax County Park Authority is warning Facebook users about a targeted scam that uses the FCPA logo and a misspelled version of Fairfax County to friend request and message people that they’ve won a prize. [FCPA]
Frying Pan Farm Park Seeks Job Applicants — The farm is currently hiring for three part-time positions. Candidates will work up to 30 hours per week, including some weekends and evenings. [Fairfax County Government]
Vienna Firm Acquires Reston Company — With demand for IT services and cybersecurity on the rise, Vienna’s Criterion Systems has expanded its portfolio into the intelligence space with its acquisition of Reston’s Realm Consulting. [Washington Business Journal]
Virginia Moves Ahead in COVID-19 Vaccine Goal — “In early January we set a goal of administering at least 50,000 doses of #COVID19 vaccine per day. Today, our daily average is over 51,300 shots and nearly 16% of Virginians have received at least one dose. While we still have a lot of work ahead of us, this is great progress.” [Gov. Ralph Northam/Twitter]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The county is seeking to gauge the public’s support for pickleball, a new and rapidly expanding paddleball sport that combines elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis.
The Fairfax County Park Authority has launched an online survey to gauge support for new pickleball activities. The survey is open through Jan. 24. County officials say they’ve received multiple requests to expand the number of pickleball facilities in its parks, recreation centers, and community centers.
The game was invented in 1965 by two dads in Washington who wanted to entertain their kids and use an old badminton court.
A feasibility study is underway on how to address the desire for the sport, identify sites for possible improvements or new facilities, and develop criteria and design guidance used for selecting and constructing pickleball amenities.
The parks at Stratton Woods and Stuart Road (12001 Lake Newport Road) have pickleball facilities. A map of other options available in the county is linked here. Reston Association’s tennis courts also offer some options for pickleball enthusiasts, who appear to be growing in number.
The county’s feasibility study will be completed by the spring of 2021. Currently, the county has 15 parks with either a tennis or basketball court lined for pickleball. Within these parks, there are 28 courts available to play the game.
Photo via Joan Azeka/Unsplash
Be Wary of Icy Conditions — The county is advising residents to be wary of icy patches and slippery spots on roads and sidewalks this morning until temperatures rise later today. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]
New Process for Requesting Park Programs Now Available — ”The Park Authority has a new program request form that makes it easy to register for personalized programs for birthdays, scout gatherings, school enrichment and family fun in parks throughout Fairfax County.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]
Reston HR Services Contractor In the Spotlight — ”Golden Key Group LLC (GKG) scored a major feather in its cap Wednesday with a contract to provide the Department of Commerce’s human resources information technology services — but that’s just the start for the company, executives said.” [Washington Business Journal]
Photo by Doug Errett
FCPA Director Retires After 40 Years — “Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) Executive Director Kirk Kincannon announced his retirement this week, ending his tenure with the award-winning agency effective Feb. 12, 2021. Kincannon, a seasoned parks and recreation professional with four decades of national experience.” [Fairfax County Government]
‘HOPE’ Letters on Display at Reston. Hospital Center — A new installation with the word “Hope” is on display at the entrance of Reston Hospital. Center. [COVID-19 U.S. Honor Quilt]
Updates on Vaccine in Fairfax County — The county offers information on the COVID-19 vaccine, which is an mRNA vaccine. These vaccines teach our cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response in our bodies. [Fairfax County Government]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Reston Company Buys Matchbox –Thompson Hospitality, a Reston-based company, has brought Matchbox out of bankruptcy with new ownership. The company expects to open a new location at Wiehe-Reston East. [WTOP]
Herndon-based Company Acquires Maryland Cyber Defense Firm — “ManTech International Corp. (NASDAQ: MANT) has made its first acquisition move of the year, buying cybersecurity firm Minerva Engineering in a deal announced Thursday. The terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, but it marks the Herndon information technology company’s first mergers & acquisition activity since 2019’s $115 million purchase of Kforce Government Solutions Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]
Fairfax County Park Authority Names New Director of Golf — “The Fairfax County Park Authority has selected Jesse Coffman to head operations at its eight public golf courses. Coffman will begin his duties as Director of Golf Operations on Dec. 7, 2020. He succeeds Todd Johnson, who will retire in December as Golf Enterprises Branch Manager after more than 32 years with the Park Authority.” [Fairfax County Government]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Reston area.
We’ve searched the web for events of note in Reston, Herndon and Great Falls. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!
Tuesday (Oct. 13)
- Birding on the Boat – 8-10 a.m. at Burke Lake Park (7315 Ox Road) — Enjoy a naturalist-led bird program aboard a tour boat, the event ad said. The cost is $15 per person. Children age 12 and younger must be accompanied by a registered adult
Thursday (Oct. 15)
- Herndon Farmers Market – 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — The Farmers Market is held on Thursdays from April to November on Lynn Street in historic downtown Herndon, the website said.
- Herndon Mayor Candidate Q&A (Online) – 8-9 p.m. — Porter4Herndon will host a question and answer town hall for mayoral candidates of Herndon, Sheila Olem and Roland Taylor, the event ad said. Questions can be submitted in advance to [email protected] or during the event. To register, use this link.
Saturday (Oct. 17)
- Royal Lake Park Cleanup – 7-10 a.m. at Royal Lake Park (5344 Gainsborough Drive) – Participate in park clean-ups and other volunteer-led projects to help keep parks clean, safe and beautiful, the website said. To register to volunteer, use this link.
- Herndon Women’s March – 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Herndon Town Green – In the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, thousands of Women’s Marchers gathered across the country in their communities to honor the life and legacy of the Notorious RBG, the event ad said. Participants are asked to wear masks and practice social-distancing.
Photo via Fairfax County Park Authority