Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

Wildlife abounds in our urban area — not just squirrels and chipmunks, but deer, foxes, opossums, raccoons and, I am told, the occasional coyote. A snowy day like last Sunday demonstrates that abundance, as the unblemished snow highlights the paw and hoof prints of our four-footed neighbors. The atmosphere may be hushed by the gently falling flakes, but the tracks show lots of relatively unseen activity. Mother Nature paints those pictures rarely in our area, so the beauty of a fresh snowfall is to be treasured, even as it affects schedules and traffic.

Older areas like Mason District, among the first to have residential and commercial neighborhoods constructed decades ago, are pursuing revitalization opportunities, to bring new investment and vibrancy. Urban Design Guidelines were updated for the Bailey’s Crossroads/ Seven Corners area previously, and now the Annandale Urban Design Guidelines are undergoing the same process. New design topics such as public art and complete street sections are being added, to be consistent with other districts. You can review the draft Volume 11: District Design Guidelines for Annandale, watch an educational video, and submit your comments at fcrevite.org/annandale/design-guidelines. Comments may be submitted until Feb. 25. A virtual presentation is planned for Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. Visit the website for more details.

Another aspect of an older area is the many longtime residents who have called Mason District home for 30, 40 years or more. They helped build our community, not by physical structures, but by their personal attributes, which they shared with us in many different ways. Sadly, Mason District lost two great friends last week, with the passing of former Park Authority Board member Frank Vajda, and renowned Sephardic musician Flory Jagoda.

Frank Vajda represented Mason District on the Fairfax County Park Authority Board for 16 years, retiring in 2017 when he and his wife, Judie, decided it was time to downsize from their large home in the Camelot neighborhood. Like many Mason District residents, Frank had a 30-year career as an Air Force officer, and then continued his public service in many volunteer capacities. He was Magister (or president) of the Court of Camelot in the early 1990s, and was a stalwart Neighborhood Watch coordinator (Camelot has the oldest continuing serving Neighborhood Watch in the nation).

Frank also ran Camelot’s annual candle/luminaria sale, which raised thousands of dollars for Children’s Hospital for many years. In 2016, Frank was named a Knight of Camelot by his civic association; that honorary action gave him the title of “Sir.” I also selected Frank to be Mason District’s “Lord Fairfax” in 2011, so he had several titles to choose from, in addition to his military rank of Colonel. Frank loved our parks, and was instrumental in obtaining additional parkland, such as Hogge Park and Monch Farm Park. He also was a wonderful co-host of the “Spotlight by Starlight” concerts at Mason District Park, and was an avid supporter of the Park Authority’s garden plot program. Frank’s legacy is one of service and friendship, and he will be sorely missed.

Flory Jagoda, who was 97, escaped Bosnia during World War II, and devoted her new life in America to keeping alive the rich musical heritage and culture of her native Sephardic Judaism. Her efforts were recognized by the U.S. Holocaust Museum, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Flory was small in stature, but her musical talent and flair were huge. I remember seeing her perform in costume at a Lake Barcroft event. Flory probably was in her late 70s by then, but her energy and passion captivated us all. What a great lady!

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]