Updates from Letty – September 9, 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,

The kids are back in school, and we are back to work! I hope your first week of fall (even if the weather doesn’t feel like it yet) has been off to a great start. After our summer recess, City Council had an information-filled work session this week, including a detailed review of CIP/infrastructure projects. Fall is also a busy time of year full of City happenings, so make sure you mark your calendars of upcoming events.

Before the weekend – if you haven’t done it already, take 10 minutes to give us your input on the Visioning Survey which closes end of today. Does the City need more hotels, book stores, restaurants? What should the City look like in 2040? In a little city like ours, every voice matters a lot!



What Happened This Week:

City Council Work Session – 9/6/16

  • The Chamber of Commerce joined us for a discussion on displaced businesses and other areas of interest for the business community.
    • If you haven’t checked it out, the Chamber published a terrific resource guide for displaced businesses (but really, a great primer for any business owner with leasing tips and the development process).
    • The key topics included: how to best support businesses impacted by development or encourage more businesses to relocate to the City – using tools like lower taxes, affordable retail rent, a fast track approval process, and more.
    • We also discussed the state of parking in the Little City and how to increase accessibility for residents and visitors and ultimately, support our businesses better. Expect parking to be a topic I’ll push on this year. As we continue to try to attract more businesses, parking is a key enabler of successful economic development.
  • Proposed Arlington Judicial and Public Safety Services Agreement – due to decreased JDR cases (juvenile and domestic relations) – which is good news – staff is recommending that we outsource probation services to Arlington rather than maintain independent staff in City Hall. With better economies of scale, the change would result in a cost savings of $130-150K/year, and the City would still be served by resources dedicated to handling Falls Church cases, with regular office hours and an office in City Hall. In some instances, clients or police officers would need to travel to Arlington if urgent; otherwise, appointments to be seen in Falls Church will be available. This will be up for a resolution vote by City Council next week.
  • CIP Update – we received our first new quarterly update of the infrastructure projects across the City, 34 projects in total. You may have seen the results of some of these projects already! The report is a user-friendly snapshot of a variety of projects, spanning transportation, parks, facilities, public safety, and stormwater. Of the 34, I’ll highlight a few projects I’ve written about previously:
    • Cherry Hill Park – scheduled to receive a refresh of the playground equipment and ADA accessibility spring/summer 2017.
    • Downtown Public Plaza / Pocket Park – design and community input happening this fall and target completion in 2018.
    • Big Chimneys Park – design and engineering occurring in 2017 and construction in 2018.
    • City Hall Renovation & Expansion – because this project will not be up for referendum vote, I encourage you to learn more about it and send me questions and input. Expect community forums, pop-ups, and tours to continue with Council review of schematic design in November. A total of $17MM has been approved for these public safety renovations. Construction to start Fall 2017 with completion end of 2019.
    • Library Renovation & Expansion – voter referendum scheduled for November 2016. League of Women Community Forum will be on Oct 16th from 3-5 pm at the Community Center.
    • Downtown Improvements – over the spring and summer, you may have noticed a number of small changes all over town: green bike racks, street lights have been converted to LEDs which are whiter and brighter, benches and garbage cans were added throughout Broad St, and brick sidewalks at the corner of Broad and Washington were installed.
    • Bike Share – grant and procurement processes underway; first installation estimated for Summer 2017.
    • Crosswalks – new pedestrian crossings and ramps installed for before the start of the school year at N. Spring, Great Falls and Dorchester, Rosemary and Seaton, Park and City Hall.

  • We also reviewed the latest draft of the Rules of Procedure with changes based on the discussion at our August meeting about the manner in which individual Council members may make statements in their individual capacity. We also went into closed session to discuss property acquisition.
  • Student enrollment – while not on our agenda, there was a brief discussion about the enrollment growth we’re seeing from the first week of school. Early indications are that this school year’s enrollment growth is around 6%, which is higher than projected which has led to class sizes being bigger than typical in a few grade levels. FCCPS reports final enrollment numbers to Virginia on 9/30 so official numbers will be shared publicly then. Soon after that, we should have enrollment data broken down by housing type so that will be useful to understand if there are new trends. For those interested, last year’s enrollment data by housing types is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7vaFg7PcgKyWUJOQ0lGaG1JX00/view

What’s Coming Up:

Sept 12 – City Council regular meeting – agenda posted includes several proclamations, including recognition of the upcoming Concert Across America to End Gun Violence on September 25th, the Judicial Public Safety agreement with Arlington and Rules of Procedure we discussed this week.

Sept 14 or 15 – Mt Daniel 2232 application decision expected by Fairfax County Planning Commission

Sept 17Fall Festival and Taste of Falls Church. A new event is  “Meet the Falls Church City Council” at the information booth next to the Community Center from noon to 1 pm. Come by to say hello, ask us questions, share your thoughts!

Sept 18Falls Church Education Foundation Run for the Schools. It’s not too late to register for the 5K run or the 1 mile walk.

Oct 1, 9 – 11 am at Columbia Baptist Church – Community Visioning Meeting #2. Join your neighbors, City officials, staff, and guest speakers to discuss survey results and what you think The Little City look and feel like in 25 years.

Oct 1, 10 am – 2 pm – Fall Community Clean Up & Litter Pick Up – Clean up the City and keep litter out of our waterways. Meet at the Community Center to pickup supplies (provided by the City) and then spread out across the City to the areas of highest impact.