Falls Church News Briefs

Revisions to F.C. City Center Plan Mulled

Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields confirmed at the City Council meeting Monday that Atlantic Realty, which received approval earlier this year for the construction of a $315-million City Center project, is considering modifications to its originally-approved plan.

Shields said that current economic conditions are driving the firm to mull a downsizing of the project. He said lowering the major residential building by two floors and also reducing the size of the “active adult” condominium building are being considered, and that contrary to earlier indications Marriott was slated to build the hotel component, “they still need to recruit a hotel,” Shields said. The matter is expected to be taken up by the City Council at a work session on Dec. 4, and all proposed changes will be subject to public scrutiny and review, he said.

Survey: F.C. Student Drug Use Near National Average

Judy Becker, coordinator of student services at Falls Church’s George Mason High School, reported to the F.C. City Council Monday the results of the 12th annual Pride Questionnaire filled out by 986 students at Mason and the Henderson Middle School in September. With the confidentiality of the answers assured, she said, results indicate the alcohol and marijuana use at the high school are slightly higher than the national average, and at the middle school they are slightly below the national average. Tobacco use at both schools is significantly below the national average, she added. The most dangerous findings, she said, were the number of high school students who reported drinking and driving, and the trend toward binge drinking by students indicating they drink not to get intoxicated, but to the point of passing out. Despite reports that heroin use among high school students in Northern Virginia is on the rise, she said instances of that problem are “very low” in Falls Church schools. She said that drug and alcohol use levels are lower among students whose parents take a firm position against their use. Among the steps being taken to address the problems, she said, was the formation of the Falls Church Alliance for Youth, the hiring of a substance abuse counselor at the high school, and the formation of a new group, the Parent Coalition.

F.C. Photo Red Lights to Switch Back on ‘09

With the Virginia legislature reversing its earlier opposition last winter, the City of Falls Church will resume its use of “photo red lights” to fine motorists that are photographed running red lights. City Manager Wyatt Shields told the City Council Monday night that the four intersections in the City’s 2.2 square miles will see their cameras operational by “early next spring.” The City made a major investment acquiring the equipment and operated the system for three years before the legislature refused to extend a law permitting their use in 2006. The Falls Church system includes a video component to confirm that a motorist willingly entered an intersection after a light turned red. Shields said violators are fined $50, but that the violation is not included on a criminal report nor does it result in moving violation “points” impacting insurance rates.

Ed Strait Feted by F.C. City Council

One of the City of Falls Church’s most important and influential civic activists, former City Councilman Ed Strait, was hailed by the Falls Church City Council Monday on the eve of his move out of the City limits to the nearby Goodwin House retirement community. A resident of the City since 1958, Strait served three four-year terms on the City Council from 1974-78 and 1980-88. He also served as president of the Village Preservation and Improvement Council, and was a long-time member of the Citizens for a Better City, the Chamber of Commerce, City Democratic Committee and others. Mayor Robin Gardner declared Nov. 25 “Ed Strait Day” in Falls Church.

News-Press Annual Holiday Party Dec. 15

The 18th annual Falls Church News-Press Holiday Party will be held Monday, Dec. 15, at the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, 222 N. Washington St., from 5:30 – 8 p.m., it was announced yesterday. The annual event, which is free and open to all friends of the News-Press, will again feature live music by an ensemble of musicians from George Mason High School and catering by Ledo Pizza.