City of Falls Church public works staffers have identified 25 potential new on-street parking locations in downtown Falls Church, and the City Council is moving to authorize the designation of eight such spaces around the intersection of Park Avenue and N. Maple Street.
The new on-street spaces are designed to ease the parking pressures on a popular new City eatery, Northside Social, at the Park and N. Maple corner, and on businesses close by. Office building parking lots in the immediate area have resisted efforts to share their spaces so far, as the epidemic of predatory towing that has been a blemish on downtown business activity persists.
The eight new spaces will be created by new on-street markings, shifting the center line to make room for the spaces, four on N. Maple and four on Park. The 25 total potential spaces will be created the same way if the Council moves ahead with such plans. They could impact parking in the area of the Winter Hill condominiums behind the Harris-Teeter and further west on Park, and elsewhere in the immediate downtown area.
The News-Press has also learned that the Council is considering acquisition of a residential property adjacent Cherry Hill Park and the Mary Riley Styles Public Library for the purposes of converting the acreage into a City parking lot. The idea belongs to the City’s creative economic development specialist James Snyder, but concerns obviously go to the cost. But the cost-per-parking space there needs to be compared to other approaches to expand the parking capabilities in the area immediately around City Hall and the library.
At its work session this Monday, the Council mulled the status of various projects underway or in their planning stages. Many of the projects are designed to “add to the vibrancy and place making” of downtown, Council member Phil Duncan noted.
They, in addition to the provision for additional downtown public parking, include the bike share project (with the Council prepared to act at its July 23 meeting on an operating contract and equipment and start up contract to begin the program in the City) and the downtown plaza project proposed by the Economic Development Authority in the open space in the middle on the north side of the 100 block of W. Broad Street.
The downtown plaza project is currently on hold, because the original estimate that the work could be done for $500,000 turned out to be considerably short. The EDA will mull its options for moving forward at its next meeting on July 31.
Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly, noting the heavy use that the open space in its present form is enjoying, especially in the evenings with some popular restaurants and an ice cream parlor close by, suggested that more moderately priced upgrades to the current location might be a better way to go.
Duncan noted that with the City’s attractive and functional new bus shelters that have been going up around town, there is a distinct lack of any signage at them indicating they’re in the City of Falls Church. “We need to consider such things as we are concerned for branding our City effectively,” he said.
The Council will also vote Monday on a contract for construction management at risk (CMAR) pre-construction phase services with Centennial Contractors for the library renovation and expansion project.
Kimberly Callahan, the City’s contract manager, and Library Director Jennifer Carroll told the Council that while initial cost estimates have come in higher than the $8.7 million projected, the developer has suggested there could be a significant cost and time savings if the library building were completely vacated during the construction work.
The library board has looked favorably on this option, with limited on-going services to be provided off-site during the construction, and the Council will act on this Monday night. If the decision to close the library for a period is made, Carroll told the Council Monday night that the plan would be to maintain the full staff during that time.
The Council will also vote on allocations for new furniture at the new City Hall, which is currently undergoing a major renovation and expansion, and remains on schedule for completion by December.
It was proposed that a special Council meeting to begin the process of what kind of art will adorn the new City Hall going forward be held on July 30. It was noted that the cost for the artistic interior decorating of the building could be born by private citizens, outside the current budget.
The Council will also hear a report on housing needs in the City on Monday.