A 30-year-old man pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors yesterday (Thursday) after a woman reported that he spied on her in a Lake Fairfax campgrounds bathhouse and masturbated.
The Herndon man scaled a cement wall to look at the woman on Oct. 27, 2020 from above while she was using a locked private room with a toilet, shower, and changing area, she said in a victim impact statement to Fairfax County General District Court.
During the incident, the man was in an above-ground area with a cement wall and wooden rafters, according to her statement. The wooden rafters are about 12 feet from a concrete floor, part of an open ceiling, noted police, who responded at Lake Fairfax Park around 7 p.m.
“The defendant’s pants were down to his ankles and he was masturbating while watching me use the toilet and washing up in the changing area,” the woman said in her statement. “When I noticed the defendant was watching me…I started screaming for help.”
The man was vigorously stroking himself, the woman said, and she continued to scream as she exited the bathhouse. He later confirmed to police that he masturbated inside the bathhouse.
“I was afraid during the incident that he might jump down on top of me and sexually assault or rape me,” the woman said.
A police dispatch said the woman exited the bathhouse, and campers surrounded it. When the woman spotted the man exiting, two campers from Reston detained the man, telling him to get on his knees.
When the woman left the restroom, she heard a thump, and the man later told witnesses that he hurt his hand, according to a police report.
An ambulance responded, and the man was taken to a hospital.
The man said in a letter on file with the court that his actions were horrible and “completely unacceptable.”
He apologized and said he has undergone counseling sessions to ensure this kind of incident never happens again.
“My wrist is a constant reminder of my mistake, and the pain and limitations it has resulted in,” he said.
The woman had been using the campgrounds with a tent. After the incident, she bought a used car and decided to leave the area without finalizing plans in an attempt to recover.
The Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office had recommended a three-month jail sentence but allowed it to be suspended. They also dropped an indecent exposure charge from Aug. 20, 2020.
The man pleaded guilty to charges of simulated masturbation and peeping. The court sentenced him to one year of probation and required him to continue weekly therapy and receive mental health treatment.
Fairfax County says it has not altered the bathhouse facility or made any procedural changes, such as giving campsite guests who pay to stay there a key to access the bathhouse.
A county spokesperson labeled the case a “unique incident,” adding that that’s not to diminish its “importance or the impact on those who were affected by this behavior.”
Four years ago, Family Counseling Center of Greater Washington volunteer Cindy Han had an idea for how to improve awareness and support of mental health, particularly among Asians and other minority groups.
She shared it with Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, who voiced her support and suggested that Han’s organization — a Vienna-based nonprofit focused on serving the local Korean community — spearhead it.
Her proposal will become a reality tomorrow (Saturday) when the first Fight Suicide Walkathon kicks off at 8:30 a.m. at Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive) at Shelter J. People are encouraged to preregister at the center’s website.
“Many people shy away [from] seeking the help that they need at the onset,” Han, who now chairs the center’s board, said, adding that she hopes the walkathon will help normalize getting assistance.
Suicide remains a leading cause of death in the U.S., taking the lives of 44,834 people last year, 47,511 people in 2019, and 48,344 people in 2018, according to a recent report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.
It was the 10th leading cause of death until last year, when it declined by 5.6 percent, as COVID-19 killed 345,323 people across the country.
The walkathon was slated to occur last summer but was postponed due to the pandemic.
Anthem HealthKeepers Plus of Virginia, a health plan that facilitates services for Medicaid recipients, is sponsoring the walkathon.
Anthem Director of Marketing Thomas Rayner says its members, who range from low-income families to pregnant women and older adults, were particularly affected by the coronavirus in nursing homes and service industries.
As hotels and restaurants faced state-mandated closures, their workers’ lives were thrown into upheaval by lost income and jobs.
“So, they were impacted not only financially, but mentally,” Rayner said.
To supplement its 24-hour NurseLine (1-800-901-0020) and other national suicide resources, HealthKeepers expanded its telehealth capabilities and also contracted with more medical providers for mental health services.
Han, whose husband retired from practicing medicine, says mental health is unlike other ailments, where medical providers can use temperature checks, an MRI, or other tools to help diagnose an individual’s condition.
Communication is a key component of addressing mental health experiences, she says, and so, residents who might not speak English fluently might not get the help they need if a provider doesn’t have any multilingual capabilities.
The Family Counseling Center of Greater Washington, which has bilingual staff, catering to Koreans and other Asian Americans, has seen a threefold increase in the number of people seeking its services during the pandemic, Han says.
The nonprofit has expanded into telehealth and provided around 1,900 health sessions and counseling services in 2020, according to its website.
Because of stigma associated with mental health, people can avoid getting help, which can only worsen situations. The American Psychiatric Association says talking about issues and connecting with others with similar experiences can help overturn harmful narratives.
“This kind of stigma is truly…the thing that I’m hoping and our organization is hoping to eradicate,” Han said. “[I] hope the American public would seek help from mental health service providers just like when they have a tummy ache or the flu.”
Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is considering harming yourself, help is available. The free, 24/7 call center network National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can provide assistance at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Photo via spurekar/Flickr
Plans to counter the ongoing degradation of Colvin Run at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston are in the works, but much like climate change and the development that have contributed to the stream’s erosion, it may take some time for them to become visible.
The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) is currently working on the final design for a second phase of its Colvin Run at Lake Fairfax Park stream restoration project, a department spokesperson confirmed to Reston Now.
Phase II of the project will focus on restoring approximately 5,000 feet of an unnamed tributary that feeds into Colvin Run. The project’s first phase addressed 2,219 feet of a channel downstream of the Lake Fairfax spillway and was completed on Aug. 8, 2017, according to the DPWES stormwater improvement projects map.
“The primary goal for both projects is to improve water quality,” DPWES spokesperson Sharon North said in an email.
According to DPWES, restoring Colvin Run is necessary to reduce stream bed and bank erosion, enhance the natural habitat, maintain channel connections within Lake Fairfax Park, and improve the water quality by removing nitrogen, phosphorus, and Total Suspended Solids.
The issues that the stream is experiencing stem from a combination of increasing development in the area and the growing intensity of storms.
“Colvin Run and its tributaries are downcutting, widening and re-aligning in response to hydrologic changes after upstream development and the increased intensity and frequency of storm events,” North wrote. “This channel evolution results in soil erosion, habitat degradation and decreased water quality.”
The two phases of the Colvin Run project were determined by a scoping team with input from engineers, ecologists, landscape architects, construction managers, arborists, and other experts who assessed the area’s current conditions as well as “the potential for ecological and water quality improvement,” North says.
Colvin Run Phase I involved raising the channel’s elevation, installing boulder grade control structures that imitate bedrock outcroppings to prevent future erosion, and adding native vegetation to help stabilize the soil and surrounding habitat.
For Phase II, North says the design will call for stone and wood grade control structures to create pools, riffles, and “a base-flow channel” to help the channel and floodplain capture excessive sediment that flows in from upstream.
In a May 26 update, the project website says completion of the final design and approval of construction for Phase II are expected to come this summer, but DPWES did not respond by press time when asked whether that is still the case.
Construction on the project isn’t scheduled to begin until the summer of 2023, depending on future budget availability.
“A gap in time between the completion of design and the start of construction for a project is normal,” North said, noting that stormwater management projects typically need to get separate authorizations for design and construction.
Construction on the project’s second phase carries an estimated cost of $3.2 million that would be supported by Fairfax County’s Stormwater Service District tax.
Anticipated impacts from construction include trail closures, trail detours, noise, and increased traffic from trucks delivering equipment and materials. Construction vehicles will access Colvin Run from Lake Fairfax Park off of Lake Fairfax Drive and Hunter Mill Road.
Monday, July 12
- Jigsaw Puzzle Exchange (10 a.m.-9 p.m.) — Ready to move on to a new jigsaw puzzle? Well, bring in your old puzzle to John Marshall Library and exchange it for a brand-new-to-you one.
Tuesday, July 13
- Summer Concert in the Garden (6-8 p.m.) — Take in the songs of the summer with a garden concert in Green Springs Garden in Alexandria. Bring a lawn chair, blanket, and a picnic for a relaxing evening listening to Black Moon Tonic. Alcohol is not permitted.
Wednesday, July 14
- City of Falls Church Prism Ensembles (7:30 p.m.) — Head on over to Mason District Park to listen to the City of Falls Church Prism Ensemble play a collection of classical and more modern tunes. There’ll be woodwind and brass instruments.
Thursday, July 15
- Icepick Surgeon (6 p.m.) — Hosted by D.C.’s Politics & Prose, best-selling author Sam Kean will be in (virtual) conversation with Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris about Kean’s new novel “Icepick Surgeon.” A tale of science and true crime, Kean draws upon real-world facts to create a tale of creepy fiction.
Friday, July 16
- Puppies and Pastries (1 p.m.) — Come for the snuggles and leave with a furry best friend. Head on over to Arbor Terrace in Herndon to meet, and maybe even adopt, a new dog. The event is free and open to the public.
Saturday, July 17
- Vienna Multicultural Festival (2-7 p.m.) — A day-long celebration of the diverse cultures and communities that make up Vienna. There’ll be performances, food, crafts, and shopping.
- Sunset Zoofari (5-9 p.m.) — Spend the evening with the animals at Roer’s Zoofari. Enjoy food, drinks, music and “intimate” encounters with the animal park’s residents. This is a chance to experience the zoo after dark.
- Latinx Conservation Month (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) — Join the Fairfax County Park Authority in preserving and conserving the county’s natural resources. As part of the county’s Latinx Conservation Month, take a mushroom hike or paddle around Lake Fairfax in Reston.
Sunday, July 18
- Big Flea Antiques Market (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) — After taking a break last year, the Mid-Atlantic’s largest flea market is back and being held in the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly. Maybe you’ll find that perfect antique clock or a mid-century modern glass cat statue.
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.
After a year of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fourth of July fireworks displays will return to Fairfax County.
Lake Fairfax Park will once again host a fireworks display on Saturday, July 3. Fireworks will begin at dark, around 9 p.m., but attendees are encouraged to arrive by 8 p.m. to find a place a park and a spot to watch.
Tickets for the event are now available online for $10 per car and will be $15 on the day of the event. Ticketed entry begins at 10 a.m.
Food trucks will be on the site throughout the day for attendees.
The following day, on July 4, the Town of Herndon will host a free celebratory fireworks display for the public at 9:30 p.m. from the Herndon Centennial Golf Course.
The town’s suggested viewing spots are around the Herndon Community Center and the softball field at Bready Park. The town will have event parking and access to Bready Park starting at 8 p.m., but the park’s turf field will be closed during the event.
Parking will be available at Herndon Middle School, Herndon Community Center, and the municipal parking lot on Center Street. People may also park at the Station Street municipal parking lot and watch the display from the Herndon Municipal Center Town Green.
Cars parked in the Herndon Community Center and Bready Park lots will not be released until the fire marshal and Herndon Police declare the area safe.
Due to the display and parking, traffic in the town may be rerouted beginning at 7:45 p.m.
Herndon’s July 4th Celebration will not have food concessions or other entertainment this year, and spectators in and around the park are encouraged to maintain physical distancing while watching the display.
Pets, alcohol, glass containers, grills or cook stoves, and personal fireworks — including sparklers — are not allowed. For safety reasons, the fire marshal also prohibits any persons on the golf course or in its parking lot from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Metrobus Service Will Expand This Weekend — Starting Sunday (June 6), Metrobus will operate late-night service to 2 a.m. every day of the week on 36 of its busiest routes. There will also be more frequent service and restored service on more than 60 routes, bringing bus service to approximately 85% of pre-pandemic levels. [WMATA]
Independence Day Fireworks Coming to Lake Fairfax — “In honor of the nation’s Independence Day, Lake Fairfax will once again host a fireworks display. The event will take place on Saturday, July 3, 2021. Preregistration and capacity limits will be in place. Details will be posted as they become available on the Lake Fairfax Park website.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]
Chandon Park Playground to Be Replaced — Demolition and construction work has started on the playground at Chandon Park in Herndon. Expected to finish by July 31, the $140,000 project will introduce new equipment, subsurface drainage, and other upgrades to replace the playground, which was originally installed in the 1990s and no longer meets current safety guidelines. [Fairfax County Park Authority]
CACI Joins Fortune 500 List — For the first time in its history, CACI International was named a Fortune 500 company, an annual ranking of the biggest companies in the country based on revenue. Previously based in Arlington, the defense contractor officially opened its new corporate headquarters in Reston on May 28. [Business Wire]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Monday, Jan. 4
- Equity Matters — Reston Community Center’s CenterStage will screen Harriet, a movie about Harriet Tubman. The show, which is free, begins at 10 a.m. Registration is required.
Tuesday, Jan. 5
- Housing Discussion — The Herndon Town Council is hosting a discussion on housing policy tomorrow. The panel discussion, which begins at 10 a.m. online, will feature comments by a panel of three experts, including state Sen. Barbara Favola, state Sen. Jennifer Boysko, and Jeff Gore, a consultant who represents clients involved in housing issues. Anyone who wishes to participate can register online.
Wednesday, Jan. 6
- Reston Farmers Market — Enjoy fresh produce and farm favorites at the Reston Farmers Market, which is located at 11900 Lawyers Road.
Thursday, Jan. 7
Mathnasium Open House — The center’s directors will take part in an hour-long discussion on the program from 6-7 p.m. via Zoom.
Saturday, Jan. 9
- Make a Bird Feeder — Learn how to make a bird feeder while learning about different kinds of birds at Lake Fairfax Park. The workshop takes place from 1-2 p.m.
Planning for a New Baby — Reston Hospital Center is hosting a virtual session from 10 a.m. to noon on how to prepare for your baby.
Sunday, Jan 10
- Raptors Up Close — In this activity for all ages, residents will explore nature with naturalists at the Walker Nature Center from 2-3 p.m. Registration is required online.
A ghostly rainbow formed entirely out of fog descended over Lake Fairfax on Monday as a dense fog advisory blanketed most of the region.
Rainbows form when lights enters a water droplet. Each beam of sunlight travels at a different speed, slowing down at different rates when hitting a raindrop. Light is refracted and cast into an arc of color.
Fogbows, however, form from extremely small droplets, resulting in less refraction.
— Rob Gates (@rjgatesontheweb) November 9, 2020
The county is seeking volunteers for several watershed cleanup days in Fairfax County.
Volunteers will gather at a park or recreation center to help “clear Earth’s arteries by removing tires, bottles, cans and other debris dumped in local waterways,” according to the county.
The service opportunity is open to residents age 12 and up.
The first local cleanup is set to take place on Saturday, Oct. 24 at Lake Fairfax Park followed by a clean-up at Riverbend Park on Saturday, Nov. 7.
Volunteers can register online. In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, volunteers must ream six-feet apart, wear cloth face coverings in public settings, and limit group sizes.
Photo via Fairfax County Government
Roughly $100 million of the bonds will be used to help finance land acquisition to finance parks, new park development, and the ownership of natural and cultural resources. The remaining $12 million funds the county’s share for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority‘s capital projects. Those projects include expanding public open space and trails, protecting resources, improving existing facilities, and expanding more recreational opportunities.
The latest request for general obligations bonds is the largest since 1959. In 2016, FCPS requested roughly $95 million.
The bond referendum follows a needs assessment in 2016 that called on county residents to identify areas of importance an unmet needs, according to the county. Following that review, a capital improvement framework was developed to guide future projects.
Plans include a new Riverbend Park Visitor Center in Great Falls, playground replacements, improvements and renovations at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston and the development of new trails and stream crossings across county parks.
Currently, roughly 60 percent of all park operating costs are covered by user fees, which do not cover capital costs. The bond question will be on the Nov. 3 ballot.
FCPD Mourns Loss of Director — The Fairfax County Police Department is mourning the loss of Larry Magni, director of the department’s facilities and security division. Magni, who died from COVID-19, was “an officer and a civil engineer by trade” who “cared more about the safety and wellbeing of FCPD than he did about anything else,” FCPD wrote. [FCPD]
Virtual Dog Daze in Lieu of Lake Fairfax Park — Although the water mine at the Reston-based park is closed, dogs can still take part in a virtual dog daze from Sept. 4 through 14. A donation of $10 per dog is suggested. [Fairfax County Government]
FCPS to Host Mental Health Conference — The Fairfax County Public School System is hosting its 7th annual mental health and wellness conference over a three-week period beginning Monday, Sept. 14. [FCPS]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The county is considering several new upgrades — including a multi-purpose center, playground, and off-leash dog area — for Lake Fairfax Park in Reston.
The changes would first be incorporated into the park’s master plan, which provides a general guide for appropriate park uses and establishes the overall location of proposed facilities.
Revisions for the Lake Fairfax Master Plan were approved by the Fairfax County Park Authority Board in September 2018 after a public engagement process.
Now, the FCPA has submitted an application — known in planning jargon as a 2232 — for its previously adopted master plan revision. The Fairfax County Planning Commission will determine if the plan conforms with the county’s comprehensive plan.
A multi-purpose center is proposed on newly-acquired parcels along Hunter Mill Road. The center would accommodate large classes and events.
Additionally, a gazebo is planed in the central portion of the park, which would serve as event space. A canopy picnic area could be converted into a permanent event pavilion for corporate and large group use.
A playground in the area south of the main parking lot and the northern end of the picnic area is also proposed. The facility would allow for “all-inclusive play” and accommodate all age groups, including adults.
Planners are also considering upgrading the cricket field to meet regulation sizes and standards, including additional lighting. A skills course could be added to the pump track, which may also be expanded. The current location of group camping could be converted into a ropes adventure course.
The incorporation of the proposals in the park’s master plan does not guarantee the changes will be implemented. Each change for new features and facilities would go through the county site plan review process and permitting prior to development.
County staff presented the proposal to the Reston Planning and Zoning Committee at a meeting earlier this week.
The publication, which made different selections based on the type of waterpark, wrote that the water mine was one of the best in the area for children between ages 7 and 11.
“Older children beeline for the three lengthy, winding water slides standing three stories tall,” the magazine wrote. “There’s also a log walk, a lazy river, more slides, and a splash area for younger kids.”
The Fairfax County Park Authority wrote the following about the waterpark:
The Water Mine captures the excitement of the Old West’s Gold Rush with themed attractions including more than an acre of slides, flumes, sprays, showers, floatables, and an interactive water playground. Kids can careen off covered wagons, float on wild animals, dash through showers tipped from water-filled ore carts, or float along the Rattlesnake River, a 725-foot lazy river. The centerpiece is Pete’s Peak, a craggy mountain featuring water slides of various size and intensity.
Although the water mine will be open tomorrow (Friday) from noon to 6 p.m., it goes to the dogs with a season-ending event on Saturday (September 7) to benefit the Fairfax County Animal Shelter and the Fairfax County Park Foundation.
Photo via FCPA
But what’s happened in the years since then?
In short: not much.
“The short answer is that we don’t have any additional information, including whether this was a slave cemetery,” Brian Worthy, a public information officer for Fairfax County government said in an email. “As far as I know, there are no preservation protections in place, and there no redevelopment proposals for this location.”
County records say the story of the potential cemetery is tied with that of Mildred Johnson, the matriarch of a prominent local family of Union loyalists. The Johnson family owned hundreds of acres of farmland in Fairfax, with one son fighting for the Union and Mildred Johnson herself sewing sacks for Union soldiers.
The Johnsons owned slaves, including one female slave held by the family for 20 years, and a plot of land 200 yards north of the log clubhouse is reported to have been the slave burial ground.
But while there’s no official recognition of the site as a slave cemetery, Worthy said the area is recognized in county documents as some kind of unmarked cemetery and thus would require study prior to redevelopment.
“The adopted Reston Master Plan acknowledges this unmarked cemetery,” Worthy said. “It states that any required surveys and studies should conducted if this site is planned for redevelopment, and the Master Plan recommends the cemetery be preserved. The county wouldn’t conduct any studies or survey unless there’s a development proposal on the table.”