Falls Church News Briefs

F.C. Council Final Vote on CIP Due Monday

The Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) portion of the Fiscal Year 2011 budget for the City of Falls Church will be finalized by the F.C. City Council Monday night. The Council determined to remove everything but projects funded by federal and state grant money, and required City matches if applicable, from the FY11 portion of the five-year CIP, but added in funding to maintain the City’s storm water preparedness, to improve Frady Park, and perhaps to construct a small soccer field at Madison Park starting next year.

Funding for those were proposed by extracting from the total of $12 million set aside in the CIP for renovations at City Hall. The CIP was reviewed by the Planning Commission this Monday in preparation for final Council adoption Monday.

Who Will Be the Next F.C. Mayor, Vice Mayor?

Local City of Falls Church gadflies and pundits have been buzzing about who the new City Council will elect to be its mayor when the newly-elected members are sworn in, and two existing members exit, on July 1. Most concede that current, two-term Mayor Robin Gardner will not be the choice of the new seven-person Council, and Gardner had “no comment” for an answer when asked by the News-Press Tuesday if she will seek a third term. Newly-elected Ron Peppe, who will move over from being chair of the School Board to take a seat on the Council, is considered the odds-on favorite, having received the highest popular vote in the May 4 election. However, David Snyder, who will begin his fifth term on the Council and served one two-year term as mayor in the late 1990s, may be a viable candidate, along with Nader Baroukh, if he wants it. The same speculation is swirling around about the Council’s choice for vice-mayor. One universally-held view: it is unlikely any vote will be unanimous.

Commercial Real Estate Trending Up, Report Says

According to a new report by the National Real Estate Investor, “For the first time since 2005, investor sentiment is on an upward trajectory” for commercial real estate. With 100 being a baseline neutral sentiment, in the publication’s calculations based on its surveys, the commercial market peaked at 150 in 2005, and then began a steady downward trek toward below-neutral numbers of 80 in 2008 and through the fourth quarter of 2009, but jumped to an above-neutral 118 in the first quarter of 2010. “Sixty percent of respondents indicate they plan to increase their commercial real estate holdings over the next year,” the report says. “That is a more bullish sentiment compared with the 51 percent who voiced the same opinion in the fourth quarter of 2008.”


F.C. Police Plan ‘Crack Down’ on ‘Aggressive Drivers’

Starting Monday, May 24, Falls Church Police will launch “Click It or Ticket” and “Smooth Operator” campaigns. The seat belt enforcement effort is based on Virginia law permitting law enforcement to cite anyone driving a vehicle in which an occupant under age 16 is not wearing a seat belt, or not properly secured in a child safety seat. The law also provides that anyone stepped for other violations can be cited if not buckled up, including applying to all front-seat passengers over the age of 16. “Smooth Operator” targets aggressive drivers, particularly in congested traffic or when stressed. Falls Church police will implement Smooth Operation in four waves, from May 30-June 5, July 5-11, Aug. 1-7 and Sept. 5-11.


Citizen Input Sought on Traffic Calming Effort

The City of Falls Church is seeking public input in its development of a comprehensive Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Calming Strategic Implementation Plan. The opportunity for public input will be presented at three meetings, beginning Saturday, May 22 at 9 a.m. at the Community Center, 223 Little Falls St., followed by one the same day at 11 a.m. at the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School gym, 601 S. Oak. A third meeting will be Wednesday, June 2, at 7 p.m. in the Community Center.


McDonnell Hails Award for Widening of I-66

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell yesterday hailed the award of $10.2 million by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) for making spot improvements and widening of sections of I-66 inside the Capital Beltway. The first-phase improvements will connect the current westbound acceleration lane pavement sections between the Fairfax Dr. ramp near the George Mason Dr. entrance ramp to the westbound I-66, and ends at the exit ramp to Sycamore Street (Exit 69) adjacent the East Falls Church Metro. That is a total distance of 1.9 miles. Construction is slated to begin in late summer 2010.


Virginia Ranks High in U.S. Chamber Report

A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Enterprising States: Creating Jobs, Economic Development, and Prosperity in Challenging Times,” places Virginia in the Top 10 in four categories, including No. 1 in “Cost-of-Living Adjusted Median Family Income,” No. 2 in “Top Overall Growth Performers,” No. 6 in “Best Tax and Regulation Climates for Business,” and No. 10 in “Entrepreneurship and Innovation.” The report states, “Commonly viewed as one of the most enterprise friendly states, Virginia has worked hard to develop new and emerging industries and is the home base for many university, private and government research and development facilities. Virginia’s success is a testament to the state’s long term planning and management of money, people, infrastructure and information.”