News Briefs

News Briefs for October 19 – 25

Giant Food Slated for New Loehmann’s Plaza

Giant Food has signed on to be the anchor tenant in Federal Realty’s redevelopment of Loehmann’s Plaza on Rt. 50 in Falls Church. The $12 million redevelopment plans include new facades, landscaping, lighting, signage and the relocation of the center’s existing stores including Loehmann’s Dress Shop which will move into the space formerly occupied by Linens N Things. The existing Loehmann’s Dress Shop and adjacent spaces will be demolished to accommodate the 58,000-square foot Giant Food Store set to open the summer of 2007.


F.C. Council Spends 14 Hours Evaluating City’s Future

The seven members of the Falls Church City Council cloistered themselves at the Fairview Marriot for 14 hours over two days last weekend to mull a wide range of issues, policy options and alternative fiscal scenarios for the coming budget cycle. But the bulk of the effort, according to Mayor Robin Gardner, went into crafting the parameters of a “vision statement” pertaining to what the City should look like in 2020. “We worked to identify the things we like, don’t like, want to change and want to keep the same,” Gardner told the News-Press. “We identified eight areas, including education, the environment and others, that will be priorities.” At Monday’s Council work session following the weekend retreat, the Council discussed paring a final statement down to a single page ready in time for a Nov. 1 “summit” meeting that will bring the Council together with the School Board for a four-hour session aimed at setting the framework for the coming budget cycle. It will also advance areas of consolidation of functions of City government and the School Board, most in the financial and human resource areas.


F.C. Procurement Votes May Apply Only to Costs Above $100,000

The Falls Church City Council is considering a sweeping change of its procurement procedures, including removing all sections in the City code pertaining to procurement and establishing an Office of the Purchasing Agent. The move is aimed at setting a better framework for a consolidation of procurement functions between the City government and the City schools. It would also allow the Council to take a step away from micro-management by permitting all procurements below $100,000 to be handled administratively, without requiring a vote of approval by the Council. Currently, the Council is required to vote on all expenditures above $40,000 and they are often handled as “Consent Calendar” items that are voted on without debate.


Polls Show ‘Marriage Amendment’ Gap is Closing

New polls reported this week show that support for the so-called ‘Marriage Amendment,’ which appears as Question 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot in Virginia, is losing ground to opponents. While those who favor it still hold a 53% to 43% lead statewide, the two sides are in a virtual dead heat (48% to 47%) among voters who are aware of its potential collateral consequences beyond the gay marriage ban. Also significant is the trend indicated by the poll, with support eroding and opposition increasing. In Northern Virginia, the margin of “No” over “Yes” voters is widening, now at 55% for “No” and 42% for “Yes.”  The Commonwealth Coalition, representing over 50 different civic and religious organizations statewide, launched a TV ad campaign urging a “No” vote this week that is being aired primarily on CNN.


F.C. Council Mulls Giving Itself a Pay Raise

Noting there hasn’t been a pay raise since 1990, the Falls Church City Council is now considering bringing their salaries more in line with surrounding jurisdictions. The Council now makes about 50%, on average, of what other comparable bodies earn, and the paltry sums, either before or after a range, are barely nominal. While making no final decision at its work session Monday, the Council considered a step increase option that could bring the salary of the mayor to $6,000 and as high as $7,200 a year by 2011 and Council member salaries to $5,000 and to $6,077 by 2011. Those numbers are comparable to what the Town of Vienna now pays. Currently, in F.C. the mayor gets $3,600 a year and the Council $2,400 a year.