Updates from Letty – Oct 7, 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,

After last week’s deep dive on the year end financial picture and proposed updates to financial policies, this week’s highlights will be lighter. The TL;DR version:

  • A quick update on the GMHS/MEH Campus Planning discussion from Monday
  • The City Hall project town hall that occurred last night – here’s a quick one-pager about the $18MM capital project
  • Speaking of capital projects, are you informed to vote about the Library expansion bond referendum on the ballot in November? The League of Women Voters will be holding a community meeting next weekend – mark your calendars and be an informed voter.
  • Materials from the Community Visioning session that happened last weekend – there were some really interesting presenters, full of good context about the regional economy and ideas for place-making and community character-building, followed by small discussions on the proposed vision statement (the draft is below) that will be finalized at the end of the year.
  • If you have input on the planned playground replacement at Cherry Hill – attend the Rec & Parks Advisory Board Meeting, next Wed Oct 12th at 7 pm in the Community Center.
  • Quick programming note: with the holiday coming up on Monday, our regular City Council meeting will move to 730 pm, Tuesday Oct 11th.

Look forward to hearing your questions and feedback. Have a great long weekend.



What Happened This Week:

(1) Community Visioning – despite the rainy Saturday, we had a good turnout of citizens at Columbia Baptist. The video of the presenters is available on YouTube and the presentation materials are posted online. A few highlights:

  • Ever wonder why so many developers want to build apartments?? And why can’t we have more office buildings? One of Saturday’s presenters, Anthony Chang, spoke about the regional economy and explained these development trends.
  • Do you think we need centralized parking downtown? Our own Planning Director Jim Snyder provided a peek into the long term planning of the City – the public investments we’ve made so far, in progress projects, and future development ideas – such as expanding the Kaiser lot that is currently only available for public use on weekends.
  • Finally, participants in the meeting had the opportunity to provide feedback on the draft Vision Statement:

In the year 2040, the City of Falls Church is an independent, walkable small city within the Northern Virginia region. Through all the changes, the City celebrates its history and community character and invests in its neighborhoods, schools, and natural environment. These community investments are made possible by a growing population and economy.

What do you think? Does it resonate with what you envision Falls Church to be in 25 years? Email me or vision@fallschurchva.gov to get your feedback incorporated before the next draft goes to the Planning Commission and City Council in November.

(2) GMHS/MEH Campus 

On Monday night, we held a joint meeting with the School Board and with Link Strategic Partners, a firm that was brought in by City and FCCPS administration to help develop a transparent community process for moving forward with the campus project. The consultant had not finished its interviews with the School Board and City Council yet and plans to interview other key stakeholders in the community in the next few weeks. As such, we did not yet have a plan to review. Expect to hear more in mid-end of October with draft reports that we’ll look at ahead of the next joint session on November 1st.

(3) City Hall Project Town Hall

Last night, City Staff held a community town hall where the architects reviewed the schematic design of the City Hall renovation and expansion of the 50+ year old building. The presentation materials are available online on the project website, but I encourage you to stay tuned for the quick 5 minute video that will be available soon and/or review the one pager. The video includes a  virtual tour of the main components of the project:

  • The one story garage behind City Hall that should net approximately 44 new parking spaces
  • Unification of the east and west wings that will centralize one public entrance (from 14 separate entrances today) and make it more secure and user-friendly
  • Add more community. staff, and meeting space while updating outdated systems

So far $1MM has been spent on the most critical improvements, with a total of $18MM appropriated for the entire project, adding about 2.5 cents on the property rate to pay for the additional debt service for the first three years and then decline. The project team will continue getting input from the community this fall, with design through 2017, and start phased construction late 2017.

Due to the public safety components, the project is excluded from the need for a public referendum, but I’d welcome your feedback. Feel free to email me your questions or thoughts.


What’s Coming Up:

Tue, Oct 11, 730 pm – City Council regular meeting – on the agenda is public comment opportunity on the proposed Financial Policies updates and first reading for two tax incentive proposals from the EDA (Economic Development Authority) and staff to encourage more commercial development in the City.

Wed, Oct 12, 7 pm – learn about the Cherry Hill Park playground replacement project at the next Recreation & Parks Advisory Board meeting on in the Community Center.

Sun, Oct 16, 3 pm – the League of Women Voters of Falls Church will hold a community forum examining the pros and cons of the November 8 referendum question concerning the proposed library expansion and renovation. The project will cost $8.7MM, which will require an 1.5 cents increase on the property tax rate. The meeting will be at the Community Center.

Absentee voting is open, and they always count! Request your absentee ballot online if you have a Virginia Driver’s license or stop by the Voter Registrar’s office in City Hall.