Burke Centre Festival, World Police and Fire Games, and Neighborhood Enhancements among top events and developments.

Burke Centre Festival, World Police and Fire Games, and Neighborhood Enhancements among top events and developments.

The Milkshake Trio entertain a group of young fans at the Sept. 7, 2014 Burke Centre Festival.

The Milkshake Trio entertain a group of young fans at the Sept. 7, 2014 Burke Centre Festival. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Phillips Horton

Burke Centre Festival

The ever-larger two-day festival returned for its 37th year at the beginning of September 2014. Drumming, Japanese dancers, local dance groups, bands and Irish dancers comprised a live performance slate, while free and minimal cost activities including face-painting and a photo booth offered attendees plenty of ways to enjoy the pleasant fall weather.

“It was great weather, ticket sales were up, sponsors were up,” said Burke Conservancy president Patrick Gloyd. “It went well, it was even bigger and better in 2014. We try to make each event a little bigger, more interesting, different from the last.”

Burke Community Enhancements

*Streetscape beautification: “We’re revamping some community signs and landscaping at major focal points in 2015,” said Gloyd, including the intersection at Burke Centre Parkway and Roberts Parkway.

*Possibly implementing a scanning system for pool passes at the 10 community pools: This could coincide with turning the community centers into Wi-Fi hotspots, according to Gloyd.

*Terra Centre Elementary School renovations are supposed to wrap up in early summer 2015.

*Paving sidewalk from Burke Commons to Roberts Parkway: “That project got delayed,” said supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock). “We’re finally scheduled to see it done this year.”

Springfield Town Center

A crowd of eager shoppers gathered Oct. 17, 2014, for the grand opening of the Springfield Town Center, a completely revitalized version of the long dilapidated Springfield Mall. The first in a multi-phase redevelopment plan for the area that includes new residential and office space, the born-again retail now destination hopes to draw diverse clientele from around the region with higher end vendors like British fashion brand Topshop, designer Michael Kors and a fresh batch of restaurants including Maggiano’s Little Italy.

“People in this end of the county have waited literally decades to have their mall returned to them,” said Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee). “This is by order of magnitude the biggest thing that happened this year.”

“Folks in Lee District were just euphoric,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova. “It’s breathed new life into that part of Springfield.”

“If you’re in the Burke area, you’re halfway between Springfield Town Center and Fair Oaks,” said Cook. “This gets people back into the Springfield area for commerce, movies, things like that.”

World Police and Fire Games

About 12,000 athletes from over 70 countries, roughly the draw of the Olympics, will descend on Fairfax County from June 26 to July 5 this summer. Members of police and fire departments around the world, they also train rigorously to compete in a variety of sports and activities. The county isn’t building any new infrastructure to accommodate the games and the expected 30,000 spectators; rather it’s spreading the activities out across George Mason University facilities, park facilities, down into Loudoun County and up into Maryland.

“Already there’s a lot of buzz and efforts underway to make sure we do right by that opportunity,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova. “This is huge for Fairfax County to have won these games. Some of the previous locations have been in Belfast, Australia, New York. So for a county to have bid on and won these games is a real feather in our cap.”

“It’s going to be a huge boost, over $60 million in economic impact,” said Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41). “And it’s a great way to show our support for the first responders who are also true athletes, training hard for this for years.”

Other Transportation Improvements

With money finally coming in from the 2013 transportation bill delegates Tom Rust (R-86) and Dave Albo (R-42) helped bring about, as well as the county’s passage of a transportation bond referendum in 2014, roads like the Fairfax County Parkway and Old Keene Mill Road are being repaved. “The state was so broke, there wasn’t not enough money to put in one stoplight,” said Albo. “This bill, Bob McDonnell’s big achievement, basically cut the gas tax, raised sales tax and created billions of dollars for roads.” Other developments going forward in 2015 include extending Shirley Gate Road to the Fairfax County Parkway and updating the connecting Popes Head Road interchange, and improving the intersection at Kings Highway, Van Dorn Street and Telegraph Road.

“In terms of mileage, we don’t talk that way,” said Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-11). “We talk about time: How long does it take? Our congestion is such it’s immaterial how far it is. We haven’t passed a long term transportation and infrastructure bill; we’ve only been doing it year by year and need immediate reform.”

Additional Highlights

*Good going on behind the scenes: “I enjoyed events around so many of the nonprofits, out there helping folks who need the help the most,” said Delegate David Bulova (D-37). “We’ve got FACETS, Our Daily Bread, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children, the LAMB center, Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter. Just wonderful stories of everyday heroes going above and beyond.”

*Possible rezoning of the Silas Burke House: The Planning Commission meets Jan. 15 regarding the sale of the house to Sunrise Senior Living, LLC.

*Full-Day Mondays implemented in Fairfax County Public Schools: “We’ve had some issues with funding and how it happened,” said Cook, but the policies are good there. Those and pushing back start times are positives in the schools.”

*“Obviously it’s an election year,” said McKay. “The entire Board of Supervisors, school board, delegates, among others. That’s exciting. It gives us an opportunity to get a good exchange of ideas out there, get the public more civically involved.”

*“Our $168 million budget shortfall,” said supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield). “Our poor economic growth, dealing with that is going to be a big thing in 2015. Our region ranks below Detroit, and has for the last three years. We have to open Fairfax for business again.”

*Phase I construction of the Silver Line Metro and securing financing for Phase 2.

*New 95 Express Lanes opened in 2014: “I think the combined effect of those happening on either side of Burke will be positive,” said Cook. “The more we can do to get more options available is a good thing.”