The most visible change in the City of Fairfax this year will be the construction work on the downtown redevelopment project. But residents can also expect some changes to area schools, as both George Mason University and W.T. Woodson High School are kicking renovations into gear in 2006. Later this year, drivers passing through the city will have to get used to some road changes.
The City of Fairfax was supposed to switch to two-way traffic along Main and North streets last fall, but construction dates moved the project back a year, to August 2006. Currently, the streets are paired one-way streets that allow cars to flow through downtown.
Consultants hired by the city said that in order to have a vibrant downtown, the city would need to go to two-way traffic on its through streets. Two-way traffic would also make downtown less of a commuter route and more of a destination route, said city manager Bob Sisson. When a two-way traffic simulation in August proved that the roads are too narrow, the city began looking at ways to widen the roads as well. The roads will still have three lanes in each direction, but the travel and turning patterns will change. The change is projected to increase the average time it takes to get through downtown by more than 20 seconds.
The two-way traffic issue is a hot item for downtown merchants, who fear that the switch will direct traffic flow away from their businesses in favor of Old Town Village.
In September, bids will go out for the W.T. Woodson High School's first renovations since it was built in 1962. In 2003, voters approved a bond for the renovations.
The deal includes five major additions: a new auditorium, science wing, administrative wing, weight room and locker room. The auditorium, the largest addition, will sit where the main parking lot is now. It will have dressing rooms, a set elevator, a black box theater and a balcony, and will seat 2,300 people.
The new science wing, added to the back of the building, will have 14 rooms. The new science rooms will be larger than the current ones, with laboratory space as well as classroom space.
The renovation also includes standard features such as new lockers, windows, and tiles, as well as refurbished athletic fields and bleachers.
New Look for GMU
In the next few years, George Mason University will undergo a major redevelopment. Called the "Northeast Sector Development," the project costs $75 billion and will add 450,000 square feet of student housing, dining, physical fitness centers and retail operations.
"This is the biggest single construction project in our school's history," said university spokesperson Dan Walsch.
Construction has already begun on the project, and it should be finished by 2008. Students can expect five residence halls of five to six floors each, to add a total of 1,030 beds. A new dining hall will seat over 500, and the project also includes a coffee house and convenience store, as well as a wood-fired pizza and pasta restaurant. The project will add some classroom and office space, said Walsch, but the main idea is to "add to the culture" of the campus.
New Developments on Horizon
If proposals for changes to the Braddock District's comprehensive plan are successful, parts of the Fairfax area might begin to look different. Benjamin Tompkins, who represents developer A. J. Dwoskin, presented a nomination to redevelop the 25-acre mobile home park on Lee Highway and Waples Mill Road with a residential density of 20-30 houses per acre and an option for a daycare or neighborhood-serving uses. Lillian Jones, who owns property on the corner of Ox Road and University Drive, wanted to add an option to the plan for 290,000 square feet mixed use with 25 percent office, 40 percent retail, 20 percent government and 15 percent open space. The citizen task force will vote on these and other amendment proposals in May, and the Board of Supervisors will make a final decision in the fall.
Council, School Board, Mayor Up for Reelection
In May, the City of Fairfax will conduct an election for mayor, School Board and City Council. The city conducts nonpartisan elections for those offices on an at-large basis every two years. Mayor Robert Lederer and Councilmembers Joan Cross, Jeff Greenfield, Gail Lyon, Gary Rasmussen, Scott Silverthorne and Patrice Winter make up the current council, and their terms expire June 30. Last election, all councilmembers ran for reelection and won second terms. Lederer ran unopposed.
The current School Board is Allen Griffith, Julie Knight, Janice B. Miller, Courtney Robinson and Penelope A. Rood.