Updates from Letty – December 16, 2016

Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council

Dear Friends,

We wrapped up the last City Council meeting of 2016 this week, so my update emails will also be on break until 2017. In between holiday parties – this is a good time to catch up if you haven’t gotten to some of the recent meaty topics yet.

Also, take a few minutes and give your input on two important surveys:

  • Superintendent Search Survey – if you missed the two community input meetings, you still have an opportunity to provide feedback on the qualities you’d like to see in the next superintendent. This is open to everyone in the community – not just current FCCPS families.  www.surveymonkey.com/r/9NHFVCT
  • Residents and business are invited to give input on the Downtown Plaza (100 block of W. Broad, between Hot and Juicy and Hunan Cafe) www.surveymonkey.com/r/RFFTTGT

Our next meeting will be a joint work session with the School Board to continue the GMHS/MEH campus planning on January 3, 2017 – it will be open to the public, so you are of course welcome to join us.

I hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season with your loved ones and all the best in the coming year. Hope to see many of you at Watch Night on New Years Eve!



What Happened This Week:

City Council Meeting – highlights…

  • 301 W. Broad (West Broad/Harris Teeter building) was recognized for winning several regional and industry awards for best mixed use and mid rise project categories. Similarly, our Zoning Administrator and Planning Department also won awards for their customer service and strong performance.
  • The Falls Church Registrar of Elections gave an informative report on the behind-the-scenes registration and elections process, especially in light of election security concerns from the recent presidential election. It was reassuring to hear all of the precautions and controls in place in Falls Church to ensure your vote counts. You can watch it here: fallschurch-va.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=787&meta_id=59154
  • An expense you’ll hear more about in 2017 – the City Manager and Police Chief gave a report on the need for a new firing range, used by our Police Department for training, to be shared with the City of Fairfax.
  • Financial Policies – after much debate, we ultimately voted to defer the vote on financial policy changes until 2017. Speaking for myself, while we have started receiving a few questions and public comments,  I voted to defer to allow more time after the holidays for people to better understand the changes and send us their thoughts. I believe the proposed changes are far more consequential than any typical vote we take. Most of the changes are meant to provide flexibility and levers needed to finance the ambitious set of capital projects ahead of us – GMHS/MEH, City Hall, and Library – however, it’s important to understand the implementation of the policies could put even more pressure on the coming year’s budget. If you haven’t read my update from last week, here it is again: www.lettyhardi.org/updates-from-letty-december-9-2016/
  • FY18 Budget Guidance – we adopted budget guidance which is meant to provide priorities and direction to the City Manager for the budget he’ll craft and present to us on March 13, 2017.
  • 2017 Legislative Priorities – with the Virginia General Assembly convening their 2017 session in January, we adopted legislative priorities we will be advocating for and asking our state representatives to support. You’ll find an assortment of priorities from gun free school zones, pedestrian safety, grocery store plastic bag regulation, and flexibility in FOIA to use technology to expand citizen engagement in government.
  • We approved the contract to hire a “Construction Manager At Risk” in the City Hall project to continue the project into the pre-construction phase. During this next phase, the design feedback received to date will be scoped and priced out for consideration, construction documents developed, and at the end – we’ll receive a guaranteed maximum price before the project further proceeds to actual construction which is about a year away. If you need a recap of the $17MM project, check out this one-pager and video.

What’s Coming Up:

  • Monday, 12/19/16 (7:30 pm, City Council Chambers) – Planning Commission Meeting – for those with a keen interest on the Mason Row project, the Planning Commission will have its first work session on the site plans for Mason Row next Monday. Site plans are available here: www.fallschurchva.gov/1381/Mason-Row-Broad-and-West-Streets
  • Tuesday, 1/3/17 – Joint City Council and School Board Work Session
  • Saturday, 1/14/17 (10 am, Community Center) – Legislative Town Hall with Delegate Marcus Simon and Senator Dick Saslaw.
  • Monday, 1/16/17 – Save the Date! Martin Luther King Jr Day – we declared MLK Jr Day as a City-wide Day of Service and the City co-sponsored march at Tinner Hill. Stay tuned for various service opportunities and ways to contribute to the community in honor of Dr. King’s legacy.