Updates from Letty – June 18, 2021

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,

This will be my last post before my blogging summer hiatus. I will continue to be available via email and you can also catch me at my cicada-free office hours next Monday 9 am at Mr. Brown’s Park – I was thrilled to have great turnout at last month’s and look forward to meeting residents again next week.

This week’s post will preview upcoming City business and news you can expect this summer: transportation work around town, development, new laws effective 7/1, library re-opening, plans for the $18M in American Rescue Plan funding, the beginning of the city’s EV transition, and continued racial justice work. Read on so you can decide when you want to tune in…

Today is the city’s observance of Juneteenth, which we began last year. The recognition of Juneteenth as a new federal holiday is laudable, but it can’t be the only action we take. It’s a good time to reflect and remember our pursuit of social justice is a long journey. Next Monday, we’ll have our first quarterly check in on the police Use of Force report since it was presented in February. This summer, staff will be prioritizing our boards and commissions’ recommendations discussed last week to advance equity in city policies. We are making progress, with more work ahead.

Have a fun and healthy summer.

Take care,

What’s Coming Up This Summer:

(1) Transportation Projects

The warm weather months is when we usually see a flurry of construction activity.

  • Just yesterday, “sharrow” markings went in on the newly re-paved Park Ave. Dedicated bike lanes are the gold standard, but where we don’t have enough width, sharrow markings are meant to designate the “sharing” of the road by bikes and cars.
  • The S. Washington project is picking back up again, with new brick sidewalks well underway. The elimination of the slip lane onto Hillwood and installation of the transit plaza will be the dramatic changes to come.
  • Yesterday, we joined Fairfax County in the ribbon cutting for the long-awaited improvements at the Great Falls/N. West intersection. We appreciated the residents’ patience and good partnership across city and county to improve this corner that spans both localities.

(2) New Virginia Laws

Every year, new laws passed in Richmond usually go into effect July 1. Next week, staff will be presenting a review of the new laws coming soon and implications for enforcement and daily life. Of note is two new laws cycling advocates hope will improve safety.

(3) Electric Vehicle Transition

We don’t need the recent gasoline disruption to know that a transition to electric vehicles (EVs) should be part of the city’s climate action plan, and I’m excited we could soon be on our way. Next week, we’ll be discussing the police department’s request to buy their first EVs, which will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also lower operating costs. Hopefully more vehicles to come.

(4) Library Re-Opening

The library construction project is on track to wrap up this summer. The contractor is scheduled for “substantial completion” per the contract by the end of June. After staff moves back in, the library will re-open to the public by end of July. If you’ve been by recently, you’ll have seen the new sidewalks are wrapping up and the new sign also went up on the building.

(5) Continued Old Business

I expect continued old business like the West Falls project and proposals for the $18M in ARPA funding to be the big items on our agenda this summer. Other projects in the development pipeline, Founders Row 2 and One City Center, may come forward with new submissions in response to the initial round of feedback from their first proposals we saw in the spring.

Founders Row should also be wrapping up construction at the residential portion this summer, If you’ve passed by, you’ll have seen that the streetscape is being installed (sidewalks, bus shelters, street lights, etc). We continue to get regular updates on the status of the movie theater and retail leases, which were delayed due to COVID – the last updates were promising.

City Council Meetings every Monday (except 5th Mondays) at 730 pmcurrent draft schedule of meetings and agenda items

You can access the agenda and livestream here, including recordings of past meetings