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In the City of Fairfax, Appearance Matters

Four properties are honored for design, landscape.

(From left) Parks and Recreation Director Michael McCarty, Mayor Scott Silverthorne, CAC Chairman Kirk Holley and Parks Manager Gregg Tonge. McCarty and Tonge were honored for the Community Garden.

(From left) Parks and Recreation Director Michael McCarty, Mayor Scott Silverthorne, CAC Chairman Kirk Holley and Parks Manager Gregg Tonge. McCarty and Tonge were honored for the Community Garden. Photo by Bonnie Hobbs.

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(Back row, from left) Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne and Kirk Holley honored library representatives (front row, from left) Barbara Leadbetter, Kathy Hoffman and Nasrin Lescure for their award.

Part of what makes a city a nice place to live in is the way it looks. And the City of Fairfax recently honored four properties with Commercial Appearance Awards for 2013.

They are the Joshua Gunnell/BBG building, Chick-fil-A center, Fairfax Regional Library plantings and the Community Garden at City Hall. The Community Appearance Committee (CAC) received nominations from the community, and then professional judges considered them and decided on the winners.

CAC Chairman Kirk Holley unveiled them at City Council meeting during which they received certificates for their achievements.

"I congratulate you for owning and/or managing one of the four award-winners this year," he said. "This award exemplifies the pride you place on the appearance and maintenance of your commercial property and our recognition of your civic leadership in keeping Fairfax an attractive place to live and work."

The properties were judged on five, key criteria:

  • Landscape design quality – Balanced, with seasonal interest and appropriate for the business and neighborhood;
  • Building quality – Craftsmanship, materials used and complementary to its setting;
  • Signage, lighting, advertising and display compatibility – Tasteful, inviting, high-quality and integrated to its surroundings;
  • Maintenance of the landscape and building.
  • Sense of place, with a unique and special character.

The library plantings and Community Garden won in the municipal category, and the Joshua Gunnell/BBG building and Chick-fil-A center took top honors in the commercial category.

"A few years ago, the library’s building architecture was recognized by both the City Appearance Committee and the regional Community Appearance Alliance," said Holley. But at the time, he said, it was also considered a bit stark and without many plantings or color to liven it up.

That’s now changed, said Holley, thanks to partnerships and "some great volunteer effort." He said the judges noted, "This is now a colorful spot – patrons must enjoy sitting out here on a sunny day."

Under the guidance of library Branch Manager Kathy Hoffman, The plantings were accomplished via a joint effort of library Volunteer Coordinator Kim Appich; the Friends of Fairfax Library and its president, Barbara Leadbetter; the Fairfax Ferns Garden Club, particularly Nasrin Lescure; and the Public Works staff, especially Rusty Thomas’s right-of-way crew that maintains all the downtown planters.

"The Friends provide some of the funding for the bed plantings and maintenance," said Holley. "And the Ferns Garden Club provides design, planting and maintenance to provide a welcome splash of three-season color at this important intersection in the City."

Regarding the Community Garden outside City Hall, the judges called it well-done and said its detailing and improvements blend nicely with the site. It consists of 18 plots, each 10x10 feet, where fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs are grown.

The Parks and Recreation Dept. helped design and maintain the garden along with its users. And Affordable Lawn Sprinklers and J.L. Tree Service donated their services for the construction. The judges said, "Spots like this create a sense of place in the City."

As for the Joshua Gunnell/BBG building, it’s a successful commercial use that maintains its historic façade. Holley said, "This historic building on Chain Bridge Road, opposite the Courthouse, reminds us of what Fairfax used to be like." The judges also noted its "complementary plantings, well-kept masonry and attractive entry and signage."

After being nominated the past two years, the Chick-fil-A center was also honored. The judges liked the building’s "top-tier" detail and scale, plus the "obvious effort to create an attractive landscape – the cow topiary is fun."