McLean community leaders will be busy this year.
Between the looming pedestrian improvements and downtown development residents have a lot to look forward to.
Changes in transportation and pedestrian and bicycle-friendliness will continue through this year. Last year, Supervisor John Foust helped to celebrate several new sidewalks and trails, a tradition he will continue in 2015 and beyond. Projects slated for completion this year include McLean Gateway - which currently is a median on Old Dominion Drive - that will welcome visitors into the business district as well as a relocated bus stop and accessible crosswalks at the corner or Old Dominion Drive and Birch Road.
The complete list of projects that will be worked on this year, according to Foust, include:
*Pedestrian crossing and bus stop at Leesburg Pike and Colvin Run Road.
*McLean Gateway to welcome drivers into the business district.
*The intersection of Westmoreland Street and Old Chesterbrook Road realigned to improve safety and shorten the crosswalk on Old Chesterbrook Road. The project includes a new sidewalk and crossing between Old Chesterbrook Road and Dillon Avenue.
*Pedestrian improvements at the intersection of Old Dominion Drive and Birch Road, which include the addition of new accessible crosswalks and a relocated bus stop.
*Intersection improvements at Bellview Road and Old Dominion Drive, which include improving driver visibility in both directions.
McLean Citizens Association President Sally Horn said plans for downtown McLean’s growth will expand.
“We don’t want to be Tysons,” she said. “How do we renew our vitality while maintaining our core interests?”
She said that question will be answered at future MCA meetings this year, something association members can look forward to.
SPECIFIC DEVELOPMENTS in McLean include the renovation of the Spring Hill Recreation Center- to be completed in March - and a possible agreement to redevelop Lewinsville Senior Center early this year.
“The plan is to raze the existing building and build two facilities, one to house an expanded senior center and the three day care centers, and the other to consist of approximately 80 independent living apartments serving seniors with incomes at or below the eligible household income limits,” said Foust. “The plan will require zoning approvals and has been presented to the community for public input.”
The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on the infrastructure development agreement and ground lease on the Tuesday. Another public hearing is set for Feb. 17 with action on March 3.
According to Mark Zetts, MCA planning and zoning chairman, construction is slated for next spring with completion by spring 2017 if the zoning requirements and plan is approved by the Board of Supervisors. Occupancy is expected for that fall.
At the MCA meeting earlier this month, Zetts noted the problems with parking in the senior center’s renovation plans.
“We can’t have people parking in the neighborhoods,” he said.
The Spring Hill Recreation Center held a ribbon cutting Jan. 10 to celebrate it’s expansion and opening after the bulk of the renovations were completed.
“RECenter users can now enjoy a 2-story fitness center and a gymnasium with an elevated running track,” according to a press release. “The gym features a single high school-sized basketball court with two overlay basketball courts and a volleyball overlay court. Locker rooms and showers have been upgraded and five new family cabanas are now available. In addition, there is new flooring and paint throughout the facility.”
The final phase of the project includes converting some of the fitness rooms into multi-use areas. Also, the lower hallway area will be renovated.
"It is exciting to celebrate the opening of this wonderful addition and renovation to Spring Hill RECenter," said Foust in a press release. “The community has needed and planned for an indoor gym for a very long time.”
THE CITIZENS ASSOCIATION will continue to make their voice heard while the county develops their budget.
“The big challenge for the county will be how to reconcile the ever-increasing requests for county services and school funds,” said Horn. “The reality is that we’re still in an economy where our resources are not finite. I think the budget issue is going to be a challenge for the county.”
As someone who has voted on the county budget in the past six years, Foust agreed with Horn.
“Continuing impacts from sequestration, slow job growth, weak commercial markets and lower than projected residential values will make the board’s job particularly challenging this year,” he said. “The county executive will present his advertised budget to the board in February, but preliminary information suggests we face a projected shortfall of $164 million including $100 million for the county budget and $64 million for the school budget,” Foust said.
The county is pulled in several different directions, budget-wise. The past year has seen disappointment from certain parties, including Fairfax County Public Schools’ outcry after board members and administrators felt that the county underfunded them.
At nearly every School Board meeting since the budget was approved, at least one comment about the lack of funds has been made by board members.
“Both our Board of Supervisors and the public, if they ever wanted to understand the complexity of a county of over a million people and almost 200 schools, open up this brochure and understand what we’re dealing with,” said Braddock District board member Megan McLaughlin after a Capital Improvement Plan presentation at the Dec. 18 School Board meeting.
Foust said he is working with the McLean community to establish priorities.
“As I have done for the past six budget cycles, I have convened my citizen budget task force,” he said. “The task force will prepare a report with recommendations that will be presented to me in early 2015.”
He also plans to hold meetings throughout this jurisdiction to hear directly from citizens what they hope to see from this year’s county budget.
Foust also has another significant item to look forward to: the completion of the McLean Government Center’s building by this summer. Currently, the office is located in the McLean Square Shopping Center.
“The old building had inadequate space for the police and many of the building systems including HVAC and bathrooms needed replacing,” he said. “The existing 21,600-square-foot building is being expanded by 17,600 square feet, an increase to accommodate police needs through 2030.”