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Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber Celebrates 60 Years

Chamber reflects on history and looks forward to future area revitalization

New officers and board members are installed into the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce at their 60th anniversary celebration.

New officers and board members are installed into the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce at their 60th anniversary celebration. Photo by Janelle Germanos.

Of all that was discussed at the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce’s 60th anniversary celebration, Michael Gailliot’s announcement that the planned Wegman’s at the corner of Beulah and Telegraph Roads at the Hilltop Village received their building permit on April 24 was among the most exciting for those in attendance.

A wave of applause and cheers swept through the audience after this was announced, and was met with equal excitement as Lee District Supervisor Jeffrey McKay said that even though it may look like it still has a long way to go, the Springfield Town Center could open as early as October 2014.

“When it reopens I think you'll be really proud of Springfield Mall again. It will be state of the art and first class, and it’s what we deserve,” McKay said.

AT THE CELEBRATION, the chamber reflected on its 60 years in operation and looked forward to revitalization and future projects coming to the Mount Vernon-Lee districts.

One of these major projects is the Route 1 Multimodal Transportation Alternatives Analysis, which will determine the best option for transportation along Richmond Highway from the Huntington metro to the Occoquan River. Curbside bus rapid transit service, bus rapid transit service in the median, light rail transit, and Metrorail/bus rapid transit hybrid are being considered, and a recommendation will be made this summer.

McKay said at the 60th anniversary celebration that while metro rail may be in the long term goals for Route 1, a solution is needed now. A middle cross-section such as the one that is being constructed in the widening of Route 1 in Fort Belvoir should be replicated all the way up to the City of Alexandria, McKay said.

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Lee District Supervisor Jeffrey McKay speaks at the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce’s 60th anniversary celebration.

“I for one am not willing to look at something that is 40, 50 or 60 years away, and in the meantime destroy the Route 1 corridor,” McKay said. “We need to be really careful here as we approach this and looking at it in a phased perspective.”

Another important project is the construction occurring at the intersection of King’s Highway and Telegraph Road. The combination of the completion of this project and Mulligan Road, which McKay said has been a frustrating project, will improve traffic in the area.

“When it is done, it will be a massive improvement to traffic flow on Telegraph road,” McKay said.

New apartments in one intersection in the Penn Daw area will also allow for road improvement projects in the area where King’s Highway meets Route One. Later this month, a plan will be presented for fixing the traffic in that area, which is fully funded by developer proffers and county money.

“We’ve been waiting for decades to fix that intersection and without these three cases coming through, we wouldn’t be able to do it,” McKay said. “I think it’s going to change the whole feel of the Penn Daw area.”

As for the Fairfax County FY 2015 budget, McKay said he isn’t happy with it, but thinks it’s the best decision for the masses.

“The downside of the budget this year was that if you were in the middle of the political spectrum, nobody liked you,” McKay said.

CHAMBER PRESIDENT Sean O’Connell took attendees back in time with a presentation of how life has changed since 1954. This included a look at old photos from the area, including the Beacon Hill airport, as well as a glimpse into the past with the Beatles, the Ford Mustang, and the Watergate Scandal.

“The future will hold even more opportunities for service as we link arms and walk the path to a stronger community,” O’Connell said.

Gailliot, former chairman of the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce, swore in new board members and officers at the celebration.