Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

Where did 2012 go? The year has flown by too quickly, but a glance backward reveals a lot of activity in Mason District during the past 12 months. The Seven Corners Transit Center opened in late January, making transit easier for passengers, bus drivers, and the shopping public, with reinforced bus bays, covered customer shelters, and better route information. Fairfax County’s annual budget deliberations held the line on the real estate tax rate, and reinstated some library hours that had been cut to save costs. Libraries are among the most popular of county services, and restoration of hours was long sought. The stormwater tax that was increased slightly last year is targeted for improvements to drainage infrastructure.

Early in the summer, after two well-attended community meetings to discuss the future of the Seven Corners area, I appointed a Seven Corners Land Use and Transportation Task Force to review and research current land uses in the area, and bring forward recommendations for changes or amendments to the county’s Comprehensive Plan. The Task Force report is expected in early 2014. Two smaller groups will look at Quality of Life and Connectivity.

We all learned a new word in late June – derecho, a straight line storm that lasted less than half an hour, but did enormous damage to our power grid infrastructure as it toppled majestic old trees onto power lines, vehicles, and homes. What we learned about emergency operations during the derecho was very useful when Hurricane Sandy stormed ashore in October. Fortunately, the 911 system here did not go down during Sandy, and damage was not as severe.

Also this summer, both the Fairfax and Arlington County boards selected a Locally Preferred Alternative for the route of the Columbia Pike Streetcar. Members of both boards have been working since 1999 to secure support for a streetcar that will connect the Skyline area in Fairfax County (the site of a proposed Blue Line in the 1960s and 70s that was later pulled off the Metro map) with Pentagon City in Arlington. Applications for federal funding assistance have been submitted, and the project, as proposed, is exciting.

Mason Crest, the first new public elementary school in Mason District in four decades, opened for classes in early September. The new building is LEED-certified, and was built on the site of the old Masonville School in Annandale.

The demolished Westlawn Shopping Center will soon be replaced with a brand new center that retains the Bill Page Honda dealership as its anchor business. The project is a sizable reinvestment in the community, and speaks to the viability of our area as a prime location for business, residential, and retail activity. Mason District also welcomes another major American car dealership this month, as Page Chevrolet opens on the former Lincoln-Mercury site, next to Jerry’s Ford, in Lincolnia. The temporary home for Bailey’s Crossroads Fire Station 10 is under construction at the corner of Columbia Pike and Moncure Avenue – the large green tent will house the fire vehicles – and is expected to be operational in the spring.

Life is never very slow in Mason District, but I hope you, your family, and your loved ones enjoy a little respite during the long holiday weekend, and have a Happy New Year!