Updates from Letty – June 3, 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,

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend and short week. Falls Church kicked off summer and honored our fallen veterans with some of my favorite Little City annual traditions – the Fun Run, Veterans Ceremony, and the annual Memorial Day parade. My kids and I also marched in our first parade this year with the rest of City Council. With the holiday, City Council did not meet on Monday, but we did have a special joint work session with the School Board yesterday morning, so I’ve provided links to the video, documents, and a brief recap below.

We have a busy agenda next week as well as many fun community events and meetings in the coming weeks, so take note of the “What’s Coming Up” section. As always, I look forward to hearing your questions and thoughts.


What Happened This Week:

(1) City Council-School Board Joint Work Session – we met for an early morning meeting yesterday to revisit the GMHS/MEH campus planning discussions we had previously tabled while the FY17 budget work was underway. As you may recall, about 6 weeks ago – both bodies had voted to defer issuing Phase 2 of the RFP in the PPEA process. I supported the deferral as we were just started to see community engagement pick up after a few town hall meetings and wanted the community to have more time to weigh in. That said, I had publicly stated a number of my concerns with moving forward with the PPEA process before the deferral vote. And 6 weeks later, we’ve had no new developments and my concerns remain.

Yesterday morning, we saw,  for the first time, draft timelines of a “de-coupled” process– ie, an alternate process if we abandoned the current PPEA process and separated the school construction from the commercial development. Note two key dates for both the current PPEA and the alternate de-coupled processes: March 2017 referendum and school construction completion in September 2020. Key themes from the discussion:

  • Affordability of the $112MM school program
  • Various ways to minimize financial risk to the City – smaller multiple bond tranches, getting first payment from land transaction prior to bond sale and ahead of the start of private development, smaller or phased school program.
  • Public engagement – this has been a key concern I’ve heard from the community about the current PPEA process. In the proposed decoupled process, the school construction would still use a PPEA process, as other school construction projects have been done in the past. As such, in the 1st round of proposals, there are no public hearings or reviews scheduled; public presentations would begin in Feb 2017 after the final round of proposals are submitted. In the decoupled process, the land use planning for commercial development to be done by the General Government would not be done with PPEA; the process and public engagement would be similar to the small area planning done to date elsewhere in the City.

We stayed in open session, so the video recording of the entire meeting is available for viewing. In order to proceed with Phase 2 of the current process, both bodies have to vote to proceed; if one or both bodies vote to discontinue, the current process stops. Both City Council and School Board are expected to formally vote at our next regular meetings (City Council on June 13th) – so I encourage you share your thoughts with us – you can speak during public comment on June 13th or write to us at cityclerk@fallschurchva.gov ahead of our votes.

(2) Bike Share Funding – one final plug to get the community’s help in bringing bike share to Falls Church. If you’d like to see the bike share network extended to FCC or just less car traffic on our roads, you can help by sending an email. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) and Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) are considering the city’s funding requests this week and June 9, but have said they need to hear loud and clear from residents that they want the expansion. The Coalition for Smarter Growth has made sending a form letter to the NVTA and NVTC very easy for us – form letters are better than no letters, but personalized letters mean so much more to decision makers if you can take a minute to write in a personalized letter of support.

What’s Coming Up:

TOMORROW, Saturday June 4th – Chamber of Commerce Spring into Wellness Day – Chamber member businesses focused on health and wellness will be hosting FREE classes, seminars, events, and tastings to educate our community about health and wellness issues and the variety of offerings we have in Falls Church. For more information about this event click here.

Monday, June 6th 730 pm – City Council Work Session – we are expecting a busy agenda with the Recs and Park Board joining us to have an open discussion on our park and green space, Library Boards joining us to discuss the proposed library renovation and November 2016 referendum, Revitalization Districts, Development Fees that we passed 1st reading on last week, and a closed session discussing the performance reviews and compensation for the three employees the City Council oversees – the City Manager, City Attorney, and the City Clerk.

Friday – Sunday, June 10th-12th – Tinner Hill Blues Festival – we are one week away before the 23rd annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival, a weekend of blues music for all ages. Many events at Cherry Hill Park, Farmers Market, Community Center, Library, and the State Theater. Tickets are required for some activities, so check the website for details. All blues, all over town, all weekend!

Tuesday, June 14th 7-9 pm – Envision Route 7 Public Meeting @ MEH. A few months ago, I wrote about the recommendation from the Envision Route 7 project for BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) over light rail for the length of Rt 7 from Tysons to Alexandria. There will be a series of public meetings to discuss what BRT will mean to those who live and work along the Rt 7 corridor.

Saturday, June 18th 845 am-12 pm – Community Visioning Workshop @ The Falls Church – What should The Little City look like and feel like as we look ahead 25 years? Join your neighbors, City officials, staff, and guest speakers for a presentation and workshop to help update the City’s Vision; we’ll seek your input on community character, commercial redevelopment, transportation, and financial stability.  You can RSVP to attend this one or be notified of future events.