Updates from Letty – January 18, 2019
Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council
As we head into the MLK Day long weekend, which we declared as our third annual day of service across the city, I hope you’ll be inspired to honor Dr. King’s life and legacy by seeking out ways to volunteer and join community events.
- In the morning – if you’re a FCCPS elementary family, you’re invited to lend a hand at GIVE Day to support Food for Others, which serves local children in need of food on the weekends. Even if you don’t have elementary students, donations are welcome and the Bloodmobile will be hosting a blood drive outside of TJ Elementary School. You can find other volunteer opportunities at The Corporation for National and Community Service or All for Good.
- In the afternoon – you can join the community in a commemoration march, from the Tinner Hill Monument (near Target) to the Falls Church Episcopal, followed by a program at the church. The march steps off at 1 pm and the program begins at 130 pm.
In the spirit of helping hands: as we are expecting the coldest temperatures of the season on Monday, please check on your elderly neighbors, stray animals, and the homeless. If you are concerned about someone sleeping outside in severe weather, contact the City’s Housing and Human Services division during business hours: 703-248-5005 or after hours, the police non-emergency line: 703-241-5050 or find out more info on emergency shelters.
Read on for the highlights from this week: links to resources for furloughed federal employees, the latest on recycling, and a sneak peak of the library renovation plans and timelines City Council saw this week, including the FAQs I’ve been fielding.
What Happened This Week:
(1) Library Project Update
Since the conceptual designs for the library renovation/expansion were shared with the public last summer, more detailed design work has been underway. Detailed design is scheduled for completion at the end of January, with public outreach and site plans by the spring, and construction from September 2019 through December 2020. You can see the more detailed plans and elevations presented to us this week.
A few common FAQs I’ve been fielding this week, with answers I’ve collected from the city webpage for the project and staff:
- Is the size of the collection shrinking? Staff, the Library Board, and consultants have had significant discussions regarding the size of the library’s collection. While there will be a reduction in the collection, the library will remain book-centric while becoming ADA compliant and offering more programming and meeting space. If we did not have the renovation/expansion and just brought the current building up to ADA compliance the collection would be significantly reduced to approximately 80,000-90,000 items. The collection in the new building will be approximately 110,000 items and depending on circulation that number could increase.
- Is the children’s area moving downstairs? The Library Board of Directors recommended an option that places the children’s area on the lower level, all adult sections on the upper level, and the main entrance on the corner of Virginia Ave. and Park Ave.
- Is an alternative library opening up during construction? During the ~15 month renovation period, a smaller, temporary library will open at the existing trailers at TJ Elementary School.
(2) Affordable Living/Housing Policy – City Council approved the new policy recommendations. BTW, thank you for all of the comments in response to last week’s post with my thoughts on our affordable housing challenge.
(3) Other stuff we did
- We adopted the 2019 Legislative Program (which communicates our needs and priorities to our state representatives in each year’s General Assembly session and guides our advocacy efforts when we visit Richmond)
- We took the first vote on the budget amendment, which includes funding an additional $350K for Big Chimneys Park and an additional $700K for the purchase of the Fellows property, which is the largest open space parcel remaining in the city.
- Among other contracts and agreements, the solid waste (ie, trash) and recycling contract we approved may be of interest. Falls Church takes pride in being one of the greenest communities – we usually top the state with our recycling rates, low recycling contamination rates, and also took home honors last year for our curbside composting program. Overall the new trash and recycling contract will be slightly lower cost + higher service (always a good combination), however, note that the changing market for recyclables has made it a money loser for us. In the past, the City received rebates on the sale of recyclable materials – as high as $80K/year. However, the market for recyclables has been weak across the nation recently and we’ve had to pay $30K last year to processing facilities to handle our recyclables. While recycling is still the right thing to do for the environment, we may need to consider future policy changes. The other tenets of Reducing and Reusing may be more important than ever!
Per our latest demographics report, we have about 1500 federal employees who live in the City of Falls Church. If you are impacted by the partial government shut down, here are some resources and offers from local businesses:
- From free and reduced lunch to daycare payment extensions to temporary jobs as substitutes, the schools are offering support to our furloughed residents: http://fccps.org/about/news/furloughassistance
- The Chamber of Commerce has compiled offers from its member businesses, including free gym memberships and discounts: http://www.fallschurchchamber.org/federal-government-shutdown-member-offers
- Legal Services of Northern Virginia (LSNV), which provides free, income-based legal services, is waiving income reporting for furloughed federal workers – which could be helpful for advising citizens on issues with landlords, student loans, and other creditors.
- Emergency Financial Assistance – The Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) has received a grant from the United Way to provide direct emergency financial assistance to neighbors impacted by the shutdown. The amount of the fund is limited at the moment, but NVFS anticipates that additional funds could be made available. Neighbors in need of assistance can contact NVFS by calling 571-748-2552 or emailing email@example.com.
- Pet Food Pantry – The Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s Pet Food Pantry is open to furloughed employees that need assistance. If you are a government employee and an Arlington or Falls Church City resident, stop by the shelter to get pet food — all you need to do is bring your government ID.
What’s Coming Up:
- Monday, January 21 – MLK Day Events – Elementary PTA GIVE Day, MLK Commemoration March & City-Wide Day of Service
- Tuesday, January 22 – City Council Meeting (730 pm, Community Center)
- Sunday, January 27 – Sunday Series Town Hall (2 pm, Community Center)
- Monday, January 28 – City Council Meeting (730 pm, Community Center)