Updates from Letty – May 15, 2020

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,

The big news, which you’ve liked heard by now, is that Virginia is slowly re-opening today (Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” plan), with the exception of Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Accomack County (latter two were added yesterday) due to local leaders appealing to the Governor that we have not met re-opening criteria. Falls Church and our neighbors will remain in what’s called Phase Zero until Friday, May 29 at the earliest. Read on for a comparison of what you can expect in Phase 1 vs Phase Zero (current).

In non COVID-19 news, the Fellows property demolition happened this week and FY21 budget work continues. And if you’re running out of ideas for the household this weekend, check out a few options:

  1. Virtual Community Center – if you’re missing spring sports and activities, Rec and Parks has started a biweekly “virtual community center” in a newsletter format. Here’s a how to sign up.
  2. Small Business Saturday 2.0 – tomorrow is another Small Business Saturday and this week, you can play BINGO as you safely support our local businesses (you can also cut out the BINGO card from this week’s FCNP). Fill in the squares, tag businesses on social media, and enjoy knowing you are making a positive impact on the City’s businesses.
  3. AAPI Month – while we can now discuss non-emergency business in our virtual City Council meetings, proclamations are still done remotely. May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month in Falls Church. It’s a good time to remember the City is home to the Eden Center, a destination with over 100 Vietnamese and other Asian small businesses, which are especially suffering during the pandemic closures. Similar to our other small businesses, you can support the Eden Center’s businesses with safe phone/online orders and easy pick ups. Their website has the latest information on what’s open.

It’s going to be a warm, beautiful weekend – which is a good reminder that we will see brighter days ahead. Hang in there and keep up the hard work.

Take care,

What Happened This Week

(1) Northern Virginia delayed re-opening

While any opening for Falls Church is at least two weeks away – there are several big takeaways:

  • If we meet the criteria and enter Phase 1 re-opening on May 29, it will be a gradual reduction in restrictions, ie, a tiptoe. The mandatory “stay at home” order changes to a “safer at home” order, which means we’re still encouraged to telework where possible, wear face coverings, limit trips outside of the home, and gatherings of 10+ are prohibited. This is a good at-a-glance comparison of Phase 1 vs Phase Zero (current).
  • Business preparation – I realize that businesses can’t turn on a dime. Re-opening in any capacity requires a lot of lead time and planning by businesses. Here is more detailed info on Phase 1 – with mandatory requirements, best practices, and printable resources by business type/industry. Even if you’re not a business, this could give you a glimpse of what will be required of you as a customer. We will continue to push for guidance and share protocols as we receive them from the state.

(2) Job Openings – regardless of when or how we reopen the state, the key is continued testing and implementing a contact tracing program to keep on top of new COVID cases. The state is working to hire 1,000 more contact tracers, in addition to the 377 contact tracers that the Virginia Department of Health currently employs. If you or someone you know is interested in working as a contact tracer, here are the jobs open now and a free online course on contact tracing offered by Johns Hopkins (passing the course is required for contact tracers to be hired in NY). Share widely.

(3) Fellows Property

Demolition of the house on the Fellows Property occurred this week (see video). At nearly 2 acres on S. Oak across from TJ Elementary and one of the last remaining large parcels left in the City, the Fellows Property was set to be subdivided into 7 lots for new homes. The City Council authorized its purchase for $4.7M last year to preserve as open space and park land, and potential school use should schools need to expand in the future.

(Only the house is being demolished and it was thoroughly inspected for any salvageable parts and considered for preservation. It’s not historic and was not in great shape.)

A master park planning discussion to hear ideas from the community will coming soon – it may be virtual or survey format in social distancing times.

(4) Budget

FY21 Budget deliberations continue next week, with the “markup” work session next Monday night. You can continue submitting public comment via email at cityclerk@fallschurchva.gov or by voicemail at (703) 248-5014.

(5) Transportation Grants

It’s not too late to submit public comments to help Falls Church win two grants for walkability and transporation improvements. You can email SYPcomment@TheNoVaAuthority.org until Sunday, May 24.

West Falls Church Connection to W&OD Trail Project:  

Install a new 10’ multi-use path and 6’ planting strip along Shreve Road between the W&OD Trail and Route 7, acorn style lights, crosswalk near the intersection of Shreve Road and Gordon Road, and benches near the entrance to the W&OD trail.

Sample Supporting Statement

“I support this grant application because it will support a safer pedestrian and bicycle friendly corridor for students, workers, and others who are traveling from the W&OD Trail to get to school, the West Falls Church area or the West Falls Church Metrorail Station. Also, this will help with economic growth, development of the new high school, and reduce congestion by implementing infrastructure for multiple modes of transportation.”

Downtown Falls Church Multimodal Improvements Project:

Install two midblock crossings, widen sidewalks and remove obstructions (including utility lines), install curb extensions, adjust intersection geometry, and increase visibility at six crossings/intersections on Park Avenue between N Washington Street and Virginia Avenue.

Sample Supporting Statement

“I support this grant application because it will support improved accessibility and safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders on the West Broad Street corridor. The project will enhance connections to the City’s civic, recreational, and cultural resources in Downtown Falls Church. Also, this project will help support economic development, City businesses, and reduce congestion by implementing infrastructure for multiple modes of transportation.”

What’s Coming Up:

City Council Meetings start at 730 pm, unless otherwise specified. You can access the agenda and livestream here: http://www.fallschurchva.gov/471/Watch-City-Council-Meetings