Today, I attended Supervisor Dan Storck's Town Hall which is the 29th we've had in Mt. Vernon. The town hall is always the best place to find out what's going on in Mt. Vernon and what's coming in the next twelve months.
Fairfax CountyFirst, we heard from Board Chairman Sharon Bulova. Chairman Bulova said that schools were the County's top priority. She talked about the County's attempting to prioritize shifting to diversion for mental health crises instead of jail.
Next, we heard from Ed Long.
- County tax revenue has started to grow again albeit not at our historical rates due to lagging job growth.
- Strong schools are the County's top priority
- Recommended a $0.04 advertised tax rate although did not explain why given that was $68 million short of FCPS' request.
Colonel Michelle Mitchell who is the garrison commander at Fort Belvoir spoke next. She said support population at Fort Belvoir has grown to 119,000 personnel due to BRAC, and 67,000 retirees who come to the installation for services such as hospital, commissary or exchange. The base is 8700 acres, 20 million square feet of building worth $5.6 billion. Base has doubled in size over the last ten years. In the last year, they've opened three new child development centers and opened a new branch credit union.
Their new base access control system has issued 185,000 passes onto base, led to denied entry to 3,200 people, found 190 active arrest warrants, and 970 suspended driver's licenses. U.S. Army Museum will have ground broken in April, 2016 and open June, 2019. They are also looking to open the base's archery range to the public given that Fairfax County has no such facility, and a national scenic trail along the Potomac River.
Constituent Questions & Answers
First, there was concern about the renaming of Lorton Road which was done with minimal public input.
Next, there was a question a local resident said class size increases were a problem, we can't recruit personnel, and urged them to advertise a dime tax rate.
The President of Springbank Community said that we have been hearing about revitalization on Route 1 for thirty-five years, but it never seems to come and also expressed concerns about our highly degraded streams. He also pointed out that the Bellehaven watershed has not seen a single storm water restoration done, and expressed concern that Fairfax County was not taking advantage of using the new casino at Washington Harbor to generate development here.
Someone asked if Belvoir could reopen the Meers Gate at Pole Road and Jeff Todd Way. Colonel Mitchell said they did not have the resources to do that given what U.S. Army was making available to her.
A resident from Mt. Vernon said he lives near Bucknell Elementary and that he is concerned that more affordable housing in Route 1 Corridor will make the schools more expensive to run.
One resident asked that the meals tax for schools be put on the ballot - he got a round of applause. the next speaker again asked for the county to fully fund Fairfax County Public Schools.
One teacher talked many of the children who she represented who are homeless or in extreme poverty and in need of healthcare and other services.
Finally, one Fort Hunt resident - Kim Bose talked about her son who was an honors student at Edison High School, lacrosse star, and Lee Mt. Vernon Soccer volunteer who was gunned down while in college at Old Dominion University. She reminded everyone that gun violence can affect anyone and she argued for stronger firearm prevention laws and was applauded.
Fairfax County Public Schools
Karen noted that we have good metrics and test scores in the County and students who can compete with students all over the world.
She said there are eight schools being renovated in Mt. Vernon today and two new elementary schools being built. We also have expanded STEAM programming and new educational leadership at our schools. Dr. Anthony Terrell will be the new principal at Mt. Vernon High School.
She also highlighted that there were $30 million of scholarship dollars given out to graduates of Mt. Vernon's three high schools. Our community has students from 72 countries, 40 languages spoken at home. She also highlighted West Potomac's 250 AP scholars and $8.5 M in scholarship funds.
|Retired Supervisor Gerry Hyland and Mt. Vernon Supervisor |
Dan Storck talking about pending development.
Supervisor Hyland talked about the flood wall in Huntington. He also talked about new development to replace Huntington Club Condominiums - new 3.0 FAR (6-7 story) condominium. He also talked about Brookside Mobile Site who wants to build public storage facility. Supervisor Hyland says he opposes more public storage facilities on U.S. 1.
He then talked about the new development coming at the Penn Daw site where the Bowl America currently sites. It will include 400 units, 41 town houses and 44,000 square feet of retail. He reviewed the Mt. Vernon Gateway coming right across from Thieves' Market.
There are big changes coming to Woodlawn Estate. Arcadia is planning to submit a special exception and develop a cultural center, farm and restaurant, mobile market, camp for kids to support the historic use. He also talked about his hope for tourist growth between Woodlawn, Gunston Hall, Mount Vernon, Arcadia and the U.S. Army Museum.
The $180 million six-lane widening of Richmond Highway widening is scheduled for completion this fall. He also wants the road to be named after former Congressman Jim Moran.
The new village/town center at Accotink (at Backlick Road and Richmond Highway) will have 283 units and 24,000 square-feet of mixed use space.
Finally, Hyland said if you want to keep real estate taxes down, have high quality schools, and fund our schools, then we need to pass a meals tax.
Supervisor Dan Storck's Update
First, Supervisor Storck talked about the processes he has established to develop community feedback.
Next, he talked about his vision for Richmond Highway and the types of business he hoped to attract. Then he discussed the Route 1 Multimodal Study and bringing median dedicated bus rapid transit and a Yellow Line extension to U.S. 1 along with the redevelopment necessary to support it.
He also talked about the new Lorton Police Station that will be constructed between 2018-2020. It will be 61,000 square feet, $30 million and will include police, animal shelter, and other services.
He talked about a redevelopment to occur at the Penn Daw Mobile Home Site near Dogue Creek.
He then discussed the plan for Old Mt. Vernon High School. They recommended nonprofits, education and vocational training and selling part of the land for development (I do not like the last piece). North Hill comprehensive plan amendment is on the County Board's desk for approval on March 1. 278 multifamily units and 195 townhouses are slated to be built.
The Kings Crossing redevelopment will include 350 dwellings and 20,000 square feet of capacity. Huntington Crossing on Huntington Avenue will have a five-story building with 360 dwelling units.
Snowden Farm on Parker's Lane might redevelopment with 128 senior living units on 4.38 acres near Hinson Farm Road.
He wrapped up noting that we need to name something after former Supervisor Gerry Hyland. He had some suggestions (joking) of course on the right.
Route 1 Multimodal Update
Next, Megan Van Dam with the Fairfax County Department of Planning and Zoning to talk about the coming land use changes. She also featured some mockups for the kinds of densities we would see along Richmond Highway including the design on the right. She then talked about future station locations.
She noted that the planning process is a four-year process. She highlighted that we need to focus on school, park and public safety impacts.
They are currently working on Comprehensive Plan Amendments, completing a the environmental and design work for the Route 1 widening from Napper Road to Woodlawn, and the entire Embark Richmond Highway process.
Constituent Question and AnswerOne constituent said that commercial property is not assessed at the same rate as homeowners. Chairman Bulova said they are because we do not have a differential tax rate. Chairman Bulova said that she thought a meals tax should go on the ballot during a year with high voter turnout.
Another resident complained about the second-class quality of Mt. Vernon's two recreation centers which do not have high quality exercise centers like other recreation centers in the County.
A parent said that Richmond has a misperception that every in Fairfax County is wealth when it is not the case. She also said that if Richmond is not funding our schools, then Fairfax County needs to fund them.
One resident said that he only ever hears about our schools when it is budget time and that FCPS needs to engage more than just the parent community when decisions are made.
A Fort Hunt ES parent said he tweeted my #AdvertiseADime idea with a petition and 720 people signed in forty-eight hours. He was the eighth speaker to ask for more education funding.
Meeting wrapped up at 150 p.m.