Morning Notes

Lake Anne housing (Photo by vantagehill/Flickr)

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]

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Morning Notes

As seen from Leesburg Pike, waters rose at Colvin Run after an early morning storm on Sept. 1, 2021 (photo by Ed Schudel/Twitter)

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

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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.

Virginia currently has five Dark Sky Places — four state parks and Rappahannock County Park — but none in Fairfax County or even Northern Virginia, the International Dark-Sky Association’s map shows.

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.

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Photo by Elizabeth Copson

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

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Ellmore Farmhouse (via Fairfax County Government)

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.”

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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.

Existing and planned Fairfax County Park Authority dog parks (via FCPA)

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.

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Morning Notes

A dog cools off under some greenery (via vantagehill/Flickr)

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

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The moon shines over Virginia (staff photo by Scott Fields)

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.

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Morning Notes

Purple cone flowers (via vantagehill/Flickr)

Two Charged in Herndon Man’s Death — “Fairfax County Police charged two Sterling men already in police custody Thursday in connection with the May 7 fatal shooting of 26-year-old Brian Constanza-Campos of Herndon…In the first six months of 2021, Fairfax County has already had 10 homicides.” [Patch]

Hook Road Tennis Court Renovations Delayed — “Due to availability and delivery issues of materials, as well as difficulties scheduling exterior work, Reston Association is anticipating a 3-to-4-week delay on completion of the Hook Road tennis renovation project. We now expect substantial work to be finished by Aug. 13.” [RA/Twitter]

Park Authority Board Resumes In-Person Meetings — After a 15-month shift to virtual meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fairfax County Park Authority Board will meet in person once again starting with its scheduled 7:30 p.m. meeting on July 14 at the Herrity Building. The board will also resume opening meetings with a public comment period. [FCPA]

Virginia Federal Prosecutors Increase Support for Civil Rights Cases — “Acting U.S. Attorney For the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parekh announced Thursday the creation of a civil rights team within the office’s criminal division. Prosecutors will investigate hate crimes, bias-related incidents, and alleged law enforcement misconduct, among other crimes.” [WTOP]

via vantagehill/Flickr

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Lake Fairfax Park in Reston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The design process for renovations at Lake Fairfax Park isn’t set to start until at least 2025, meaning changes could be years away.

Almost a year ago, Fairfax County began to consider renovations and additions to the county park, including a multi-purpose center, an off-leash dog area, an “inclusive” playground, and an adventure park.

All of these changes were approved by the Park Authority Board and are now in the park’s master plan. They were set to be financed by the $112 million bond referendum approved by county residents in November.

However, the project is hung up due to cashflow, Fairfax County Park Authority Public Information Officer Judith Pedersen told Reston Now in an email.

“We do have cashflow constraints associated with the Park Bond,” Pedersen wrote. “So, this project is scheduled to start the design process in mid-[Fiscal Year] 25 — that’s around January 2025. The scope of the improvements will be developed during the design process.”

According to Pedersen, Fairfax County generally limits the amount of cash it transfers each year so that it can maintain its AAA bond rating.

“Even though the bond has been approved, we face constraints both in terms of project timing and in terms of allowable cash flow,” she said. “…The annual [cash flow] projections currently allow for approximately $25 million in Park Authority bonds each year to fund our projects.”

If the design process doesn’t happen until early 2025, it could be a number of years before the renovations are actually completed.

To further the timeline even more, each change and new feature or facility needs to undergo county site plan review and permitting processes prior to construction.

Lake Fairfax Park is a 476-acre park encompassing a lake located just east of Reston. First designated as a county park in 1966, it currently has campgrounds, athletic fields, a skate park, a pump track, biking and hiking trails. It’s also home to the popular county water park Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved a substantial number of renovations, additions, and improvements last July, including a multi-purpose event pavilion along Hunter Mill Road that could accommodate large classes and events.

Other approved changes include a gazebo in the park’s center that would be available for events and an additional playground that would allow for “inclusive play” for all ages and physical and mental abilities.

The planned renovations will also add an off-leash dog park, an interpretive overlook, a ropes adventure course, and rental cabins in the camping area.

The project also entails improvements to the pump track and cricket field that would add lighting and have it meet regulation size.

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Banner for Fairfax County’s 2021 Summer Entertainment Series (via Fairfax County Park Authority/Facebook)

It is officially summer, and with Virginia anticipating an end to its COVID-19-induced state of emergency, the next couple of months will bring an abundance of live music for Reston and Herndon residents to enjoy.

The season’s offerings will include the in-person returns of “Hunter Mill Melodies” and “Music at Arrowbrook Park,” two free outdoor concert series organized by the Fairfax County Park Authority for its 2021 Summer Entertainment Series.

Hunter Mill Melodies will be back at Herndon’s Frying Pan Farm Park with performances at Kidwell Farm (2709 West Ox Rd.) at 7:30 p.m. every Thursday in July and August.

Frying Pan will also host a children’s entertainment series at its visitor center pavilion (2739 West Ox Rd.) every Wednesday at 10 a.m. as part of the park authority’s Arts in the Park family-friendly series.

“This free entertainment series features a wide variety of musical acts from across the United States and from around the world,” Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said in a note. “The variety and quality of the acts is a reflection of Fairfax County’s diversity and community spirit, some of the many qualities that make this a wonderful place to call home.”

Music at Arrowbrook Park will bring eight free concerts to Arrowbrook Centre Park (2351 Field Point Rd.) in Herndon, covering a variety of genres, from folk to funk.

The full Hunter Mill Melodies and Music at Arrowbrook Park schedules are as follows:

Hunter Mill Melodies

  • July 8: Phil Wiggins & Rick Franklin (Piedmont blues)
  • July 15: Elena & Los Fulanos (Latin folk/rock)
  • July 22: Nepalese Indian Cultural Nights (music of Nepal)
  • July 29: Grupo Autoctono Tarkeada Virginia and Tradiciones Bolivianas (folkloric music and dance from Bolivia)
  • August 5: Billy Coulter (roots rock, pop)
  • August 12: Speidel, Goodrich, Goggin & Lille (rock)
  • August 19: The United States Army Swamp Romp (jazz)
  • August 26: Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen (bluegrass)

Arts in the Park

  • July 7: 123 Andrés (children’s songs)
  • July 14: Blue Sky Puppet Theater (puppets)
  • July 21: Rocknoceros (children’s songs)
  • August 11: Mr. Gabe & the Circle Time All-Stars (children’s songs)
  • August 18: Fairfax Symphony Orchestra — Percussion Ensemble (children’s music)

Music at Arrowbrook Park

  • July 10: The 19th Street Band (country rock)
  • July 17: Scythian (Irish rock)
  • July 24: High Noon (Southern rock)
  • July 31: Daryl Davis (swing)
  • August 7: Black Masala (funk/world)
  • August 14: Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band (funk)
  • August 21: Richard Phillips and Friends (folk, Appalachian blues)
  • August 28: Eddie from Ohio (rockabilly)

The Fairfax County Park Authority announced on June 9 that its Summer Entertainment Series would return in person after going virtual last year.

According to the FCPA news release, the county started the initiative to create “a renewed sense of community” in the vein of small-town gatherings around bandstands in local town squares or parks. The performances are funded by private donations given to the Fairfax County Park Foundation.

For additional local live music options, community members can turn to the Reston Community Center, which launched multiple free summer concert series earlier this month, and Friday Night Live!, which will be back in the Town of Herndon starting July 2.

Reston Town Center, however, announced in April that it has canceled its Reston Concerts on the Town series for a second year in a row, citing the continued uncertainty at that time over whether Virginia would still have restrictions on large events over the summer.

Reston Concerts on the Town said that it had retained much of its planned lineup from 2020 and is now working to move those same artists to summer 2022.

“We miss you all and look forward to safely and joyously rocking out together in 2022!” the Facebook post said.

via Fairfax County Park Authority/Facebook

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Morning Notes

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]

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(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

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Morning Notes

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

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved subleasing the Ellmore Farmhouse in Herndon to the nonprofit ServiceSource on May 4.

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 provides housing, employment, and other support services to people with disabilities and their families. The nonprofit has been in line to take over the Ellmore Farmhouse since 2019.

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

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