Several major projects are under way for Fairfax in 2004. Below are several that will impact area residents:
City Eyes Completion of George Mason Boulevard
The Fairfax City Council will determine this year whether to give final approval to complete the final leg of George Mason Boulevard between School Street and University Drive. Pending the final approval is the report on the road's impact as it passes through a portion of the City Hall campus.
The Council had supported a resolution advocating the road's completion in November 2003. If the project gets the green light, construction could start in mid-2004, pending the completion of construction plans and negotiations with the Fairfax County School Board for the purchase of easements.
The estimated cost of the project is $2.4 million, paid with federal money channeled through the state's Regional Surface Transportation Funds.
Higher Density at Vienna Metro?
In 2004, Fairfax County will come closer to establishing what will happen to a tract of land near the Vienna Metrorail station.
In July 2003, a high-density proposal calling for mixed-use development near the Vienna Metrorail station was put on hold after neighboring communities argued that the proposal was too ambitious. The proposed development offered by the development firm Pulte called for high-rise apartments, condominiums and townhomes, as well as office space and shops on a 70-acre tract of land known as Fairlee. The plan also called for construction of a four-lane road connecting Vaden Drive to Route 29.
While planners supported the smart-growth principles of the development, neighboring communities argued that the nearly 2,300 homes that Pulte intended for Fairlee would overwhelm traffic in the area.
The county Planning Commission deferred the approval to change the Comprehensive Plan allowing the development to a later unspecified date.
The 65 single-family homes that were situated on Fairlee had all been bought out by the developer.
May Elections for Fairfax
May 4 is Election Day in Fairfax City for the mayor and City Council. Every two years, those seats are up for re-election. The races are at-large and nonpartisan.
School Renovations at Lanier, Fairfax
In November 2004, Fairfax City citizens will decide whether to approve significant renovations to Lanier Middle and Fairfax High. The renovations to the 44-year-old and 33-year-old buildings, respectively, would include installing new roofs; upgrading the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, plumbing and safety systems; and refurbishing media centers and science and computer labs. If the projects are approved, the city would spread the cost of renovation over 20 years by selling bonds.
Renovation designs will be released this year for voters to review. One question for voters will be the issue of capacity. Fairfax's two newest school buildings, Daniels Run and Providence elementaries, had their capacity limits questioned in 2002 and 2003, when a proposal to create a gifted-and-talented center at Providence was eliminated due to a potential boundary adjustment between the two schools. Additionally in fall 2003, the Fairfax City Council and City School Board approved the addition of a trailer for arts teachers behind Daniels Run Elementary.
Townhouse Development on School Street
In February 2003, the Fairfax City Council approved the development of a long-debated tract of land off School Street and Route 123. Rocky Gorge Homes will construct a 47-townhouse development which will straddle the city-county line. Ten houses on 1.29 acres will be in the city, while the remaining 37 townhouses will be in the county.
The city and county had been discussing what should be done to the School Street property for 12 years.'
County Communications Center
As the population of Fairfax County continues to grow, the county communications center remains shoehorned into an old elementary school on Sideburn Road in Annandale. In November, voters showed enthusiasm for a public safety referendum by approving a $60 million bond that included a new communications facility.
Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield) believes now is the time to get the wheels rolling on this.
"We need an updated communications center to serve our people," she said. "If you had a really big strike on the nation's capital, you'd need it."
One look at the 911 emergency room at the Richard A. King Pine Ridge Facility on Woodburn Road in Annandale indicates the need for space. Recent emergencies such as the Y2K scare, terrorist strikes on 9/11 or the sniper attacks last October exemplify that need.
Construction in Old Town?
Construction to redevelop two city-owned properties in Old Town Fairfax could begin as early as this fall. The development proposed by Trammell Crow Co., Walnut Street Development and J. Donegan Co. call for an open-air plaza and fountain, 90,000 square feet of retail, 40,000 square feet of office space, and 60 condominiums. The development also calls for moving the Fairfax City Regional Library from its present location on Armstrong Street to the North Street parking lot, and building the condominiums at the present library site.
With the approval of the 2003 city budget last April, plans were set into motion to make the historical Blenheim estate more visitor friendly. Known for its Civil War graffiti, the Blenheim house and its grounds will receive a makeover making it more accessible for tourists and school groups. The 12-acre site located on Old Lee Highway will see in its future the construction of a $1 million exhibition center, as well as restorations to the historic house and its grounds.
Construction could start in late 2004 and be completed in 2005, in time for the city's bicentennial.
City Hall, Police Station Construction Plans
September 2004 may be the time the city will call for construction bids for the City Hall expansion and addition and construction of the new public safety building. Construction on the expansion would begin afterward.