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News Briefs

Brief news items from the Greater Falls Church area for the week of September 7.

F.C.’s $1.4 Million Fund Balance, But Tough Times Ahead

            A report to the Falls Church City Council from chief financial officer John Tuohy Tuesday revealed the City currently enjoys a robust fund balance (money in the bank) of $1.4 million, the result of higher than expected home assessments and other factors. A portion of the $1.4 million, equivalent to almost five cents on the real estate tax rate, must under City law, be held as a rainy-day reserve and the balance must go to fund one-time expenditures or future City capital improvements. Tuohy also cautioned the Council that the days of fast-rising real estate assessments are now over. “A slowdown is definitely taking place,” he said. Councilman David Chavern added, “This and the following year may get (fiscally) ugly.” Tuohy also noted that the City’s water fund operated in the black for the first half of 2006, doing so for the first time in years. Tuesday’s report was the first in the advent of a new policy of monthly fiscal reports to the Council commissioned by new mayor Robin Gardner.

 

Field Improvement at T. J. Elementary Planned

            Falls Church’s Department of Recreation and Parks will take the lead in a $123,850 improvement of the fields at the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School this fall, pending approval from the City Council. The site currently includes two softball fields and a rectangular field. 66,000 square feet of sod would be involved. The field improvement will be first of a significant nature at T.J. during the lengthy, two dozen year tenure of Howard Herman as the City’s Rec and Parks director, Herman told the Council Tuesday. Council members expressed concern that with a major quality upgrade, the field availability to citizens for informal, drop-in use may be unduly limited. Current plans are to keep the new fields closed, entirely, during winter months and off limits during rainy weather. Long-standing informal traditions such as mud bowl football games by high school students during snow days would be forbidden. “We shut the fields down to protect our investment,” Herman said. But Mayor Robin Gardner said it is a contradiction for an investment paid for by taxpayers to be unavailable to those taxpayers. Herman said that he would explore options for keeping some of the field open for informal use under all conditions and year round.

 

Vacation of City Street Sought for Innovative Building

            A prominent Falls Church area architect is asking the City of Falls Church to close a 100-foot section at the end of a small street and sell it to him for the construction of an office building that will feature an array of innovative environmental features. Namely, by renovating a building currently at the site, the developer would create a “Zero Energy LEED Platinum Building” that would be only one of nine in the U.S. that would utilize solar power, geothermal and other forms of energy such as to require no outside energy, whatsoever, to operate. The Council heard a preliminary report Tuesday from John D. Bellingham, president of Monarc Construction, Inc., about his request. The site is at the end of Hunton Avenue, a short, dead-end street off Hillwood Avenue adjacent the Larry Graves Athletic Fields. The building will become the headquarters for the Monarc company, which recently constructed the new Swedish embassy in Washington, D.C. The Council will vote on the proposal later this month.

 

Bank Robbery in Tysons Corner

            On Wednesday, Sept. 6 at about noon, a branch of Wachovia Bank was robbed. The suspect entered the bank, located at 8117 Leesburg Pike, approached an employee and brandished a handgun. The suspect demanded cash and was given an undisclosed amount of money. The man then fled the bank. No one had any apparent injuries. The suspect was described as white, 30 to 35 years old, approximately six feet, two to four inches tall and 190 pounds. He had a goatee and was last seen wearing a light gray sweatshirt and an orange or yellow baseball cap. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS or Fairfax County Police at (703) 691-2131.

 

Women’s Issues Conference Set Sept. 16

            Keynoted by Sheila Johnson, owner of the Washington Mystics and co-founder of BET television, Rep. Jim Moran’s 15th annual Women’s Issues Conference will be held Saturday, Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kenmore Middle School, 200 S. Carlin Springs Rd. in Arlington. Those wishing to attend should register through Rep. Moran’s website, www.moran.house.gov.