Almost Happy New Year! The end of 2018 provides an opportunity to review the year, and look forward to 2019. It seems like 2018 flew past, with a new issue or scandal at the federal level popping up almost every day. At our local level, things were calmer.
In January, Fairfax County welcomed a new county executive, Bryan Hill, to lead the administrative side of county government. Mr. Hill hit the ground running, since he had to present a new county budget just six weeks after he arrived. He successfully navigated the economic shoals, and the Board of Supervisors adopted his proposed FY 2019 budget that fully funded the school system’s request and also fully funded the county’s compensation plan for employees. His next big challenge, in addition to budget work that never ceases, is developing the elements of a new strategic plan for the county, which, most likely, will have the One Fairfax policy at its core.
In land use, a new short-term lodging ordinance was adopted, narrower than some wanted, and broader than others wished. The new ordinance went into effect on October 1, and restricts the number of days and persons allowed, and requires a permit. The next challenge for the “sharing” economy may be electric scooters, which are beginning to show up, sometimes dumped, in Mason District neighborhoods and across the county. As occurred with short-term lodging, the Virginia General Assembly is expected to weigh in with legislation that may, or may not, be helpful to assist localities address safe scooter use.
Many Mason District neighborhoods focused on traffic calming and pedestrian/cyclist safety in 2018. Traffic calming projects were completed in Raymondale, Pinecrest, Ravenwood, and Sunset Manor/Dowden Terrace. More studies are underway in Westlawn, Glen Forest, Lake Barcroft, and Woodley, as those neighborhoods begin the extensive community involvement needed to demonstrate support for solutions. Sidewalk projects were completed along Route 50 in the Westlawn and Lee Boulevard Heights areas, and the Route 7 Pedestrian Initiative was completed with the final sidewalk segment constructed from Rio Drive to Glenmore Street in Culmore. The proposed Sleepy Hollow walkway project has been revised to address some homeowner concerns, and the results are encouraging.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) completed paving on many roadways, and a sneak peek at the 2019 list reveals that several neighborhoods at the eastern end of Mason District are proposed for paving next year. In some areas, painted parking lanes and bike lanes will be installed with the projects. The Wilson Boulevard Bridge Rehab project is anticipated to begin in 2019, with a deck rebuild and sidewalks on both sides of the one-way bridge.
A groundbreaking for the new Bailey’s Community Shelter was held in April, and you can see the building taking shape right at the Seminary Road ramp from Columbia Pike. J.E.B. Stuart High School was renamed Justice High School by the School Board, moving from a Civil War past to an exciting new future. And the announcement that Arlington/Alexandria was selected for Amazon’s new HQ2 site is good news for Mason District. Its close-in location means that new Amazon employees will find that good schools, and vibrant and stable neighborhoods, are just what they ordered. It bodes well for an exciting and successful 2019!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]