Updates from Letty – November 9, 2018

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,

And with that, it’s November! We have five remaining meetings in 2018, and they will be important ones. After hearing the recommendation from the evaluation committee this week for the top ranked developer for the West Falls Church 10 acre project, we expect to make a decision in the coming weeks. We’ll also be taking a final vote on the new Affordable Living Policy recommendation. In December, we will have a joint meeting with the School Board to look at the FY20 revenue forecast and issue “budget guidance”, which is our directive to the City Manager on priorities for the next budget. “Budget guidance” is the unofficial kickoff of the next budget cycle…

This week, we had a great discussion about transportation with members of the CACT (Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation) – covering important topics like traffic calming, permit parking in residential areas, W&OD improvements, and parking. Next to taxes, transportation is one of the most fervent topics we hear, so read on! Also, get the latest on the downtown pocket park/plaza in the 100 block of W. Broad.

Speaking of parking – if you’re interested in learning more about parking work underway or have ideas to share, VPIS (Village Preservation and Improvement Society) is hosting a community meeting, open to everyone, this Sunday at 3 pm at the Falls Church Presbyterian Church; I’ll be one of the presenters and would like to hear from you.



What Happened This Week:

(1) Joint discussion with CACT

The CACT (Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation) advises us on transportation, which is one of the key priorities of the current City Council. The CACT helps administer the Neighborhood Traffic Calming program and has led creative pilot projects like Play Streets and PARK(ing) Day with staff. The CACT’s summary report includes good updates on several high visibility topics:

  • Traffic calming – the traffic calming program is supported by $200K of city money in the annual budget. This year, we also expect $600K in grant money which be useful in addressing the issues in the current queue. At the current pace, the NTC program completes 1-2 projects per year and I’d love to see greater throughput (ie, more resources/funding) as we continue to hear an increase in speeding and pedestrian safety concerns.
  • Permit parking – with Founders Row construction on the horizon, neighbors have petitioned for permit parking programs for their streets. In general, we believe that new developments should “park themselves” ie, parking needs for the new development should be self contained and not create spillover impacts into neighborhoods. However, I also believe that such restrictions generally be limited to overnight parking and that daytime, complementary parking still be available for short term uses as that is the most efficient use of public space (ie, if the street parking spot is empty during the work day, that space should be available to patrons who may be visiting a nearby business.) Several of us also asked for data to determine the effectiveness of the permit parking program in Winter Hill and car counts in the residences at 301 West Broad development, so we can learn from that project.
  • Capital Bikeshare – City staff is awaiting notification from vendors regarding an estimated delivery and installation date for the system, which is expected in spring 2019.
  • W&OD Crossings & Dual Trails – The City was awarded a grant to improve the roadway crossings of the W&OD at 4 locations in the City; design work on the crossings should begin in November. NOVA Parks will also be proceeding with a pilot of dual trails (separating bike and pedestrian) through the City. The Dual Trails work is funded by a grant administered by the NVTA (the same regional body that granted us the $15.7M for congestion and safety improvements at the Broad/Haycock intersection many of you helped rally and win for Falls Church). From the monthly NVTA newsletter, here’s a little more info on what you expect with Dual Trails, with design work also beginning soon:

Project Spotlight: Falls Church Enhanced Regional Bike Routes (W&OD Trail)

The NOVA Parks/Falls Church W&OD Trail enhancements project is a significant step to encourage non-motorized transportation. This project is to replace the existing 10-foot wide shared-use trail accommodating 2 million people each year with an 11-foot wide bicycle trail and 8-foot wide pedestrian trail separated by a 2-foot wide median. Six substandard curb ramps and a narrow trail bridge over Four Mile Run will also be replaced. In order to encourage non-motorized transportation, NOVA Parks extended hours of use to include commuting hours. NVTA funded more than $3.2 million towards the bicycle and pedestrian-mode project spanning more than one mile. 

Paul Gilbert, Executive Director, NOVA Parks:
“The W&OD Trail is the spine of the trail system in Northern Virginia. NOVA Parks is excited to be working with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and the City of Falls Church on a project that will expand the capacity of the Falls Church section of the trail.

We call it ‘dual trails’ because we will have two parallel paths, one for pedestrians/walkers and one for cyclists. These two groups travel at different speed, and that creates challenges when the trail is busiest. Just like a road improvement, this trail improvement will help people get to where they are going in a more efficient way. When the trail was built in the 1970s and 1980s, it was just for recreation. Today, it is also a major commuter route. In funding this project, NVTA is showing that they really understand the value of multi-modal transportation in our urbanizing area. We hope this project will be a model for how to improve the trail through other urban centers in the years to come. Thank you NVTA!”

dual trails

(2) Downtown Park & Holiday Lighting

Also this week, the Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved the initial phase of funding for a scaled back downtown plaza or pocket park. (The park is located downtown, in the 100 block of W. Broad Street, where the annual holiday lighting occurs.) The EDA’s objective is to enliven the downtown with more public gathering spaces and ultimately encourage business activity. The revised plan renovates the park in its current footprint with seating, lighting, ADA accessibility, and expanding the usable area into the raised beds – imagine small performances, yoga in the park, pop up events, food trucks, public art on the adjacent walls. Expect work to begin this fall through next year, hopefully with the park ready for use next spring/summer. See a conceptual rendering below.

And this year’s downtown holiday lighting event has been scheduled! Save the date for Monday, November 26 at 6 pm at the downtown park. Santa on the firetruck will be there!


Updated 1

(3) Fit at Farmers Market

Did you know that there are free fitness classes at the Saturday Farmers Market each week? And it’s now an award-winning program. Coming off the accolades with Falls Church being the “Healthiest Community in the US” – the “Fit at the Farmers Market” program won the “Best Health and Wellness Initiative” award at the Virginia Recreation and Park Society annual conference this week. This year, the classes are taught by professional instructors from local studios, including Falls Church Jazzercise, Corepower Yoga, Dancing Mind Yoga, as well as fitness classes held at the Community Center.



What’s Coming Up:

November is #LiveLocalFC month! Are you up for the challenge of keeping 20% more of your spending in the City during November?