“What a difference a week makes,” said County Chairman Sharon Bulova (D), in case anybody had moved on from the 29.3 inches of measured snow at Dulles Airport during the recent blizzard.
The Board of Supervisors will hold a Snowzilla Summit on March 1, to discuss “what went well, what lessons were learned, and what can be done in future events,” Bulova said at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, Feb. 2, nine days after the storm.
“It’s not like this never happens,” said Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock). “We know we’re going to have a significant storm every few years.
Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) remembers the last big storm and county summit when the county analyzed its response overall and neighborhood by neighborhood, street by street. “I intend to do that again this year,” he said. “I look at these snow summits on a macro and a micro level.”
Foust wants the police to be invited, and to hear analysis of the number of accidents after streets had begun to be plowed and treated.
“As great a job as VDOT did, one area that concerns me the most is the hazardous situations they left when they thought they were done,” he said.
Cook wants the school system to join, too. Many residents called asking if they could help shovel sidewalks that were covered by many feet of snow in some areas that VDOT cleared from the roads. That will be studied.
“We don’t want our children to be out of school an entire week,” said newly elected Mount Vernon Supervisor Dan Storck (D).
“I had far more compliments than complaints,” said Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield). “It seemed to be contractor dependent. If a contractor came out with good equipment, they didn’t give up.”
People underappreciated in this storm were also the repairmen fixing the equipment during the blizzard and cleanup, he said.
This was also the first storm since Supervisor Kathy Smith (D-Sully) took office. The snow cleanup and preparedness is “an important conversation to have with the community.”
Consistency was the problem she said her residents told her about.
She used technology to make automatic calls to residents in her magisterial district, giving the option for anyone who answered to press a button to be connected to someone in her office.
“It moves at a pace where you can receive incoming calls as fast as you make outgoing calls,” she said. “Putting out an offer to help resulted in a 14-times increase in the number of people calling us,” she said.
Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) said the map alerting residents to VDOT progress “just wasn’t accurate.”
Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee) mentioned that Herndon Park and Recreation Department offered a full day program for children during the cleanup days.
“Let’s evaluate Herndon’s program to see if Fairfax County can do something similar,” he said.
“It’s a pretty innovative way to make activities available to children and enabling parents to put in work hours on a snow day,” said Bulova.
She said Snowzilla Summit will be televised and be presented on the web so county residents can watch.
Backing out to the macro level, Supervisor Penelope Gross (D-Mason) gave a last bit of perspective.
“Let’s consider the amount of snow we were dealing with. VDOT did an outstanding job,” she said.
Animal Shelter Named to Honor Frey
Herrity requested that the county animal shelter be named after just-retired Supervisor Michael Frey, who spent 24 years as the Sully District Supervisor.
“I will not go over his many accomplishments as a supervisor of supporting schools, local sports programs, historic districts, parks and public safety, but rather focus on his love for animals. Over the years, Mike has been the proud owner of many rescue German Shepherds – Mosby and Marley in the past, and now Boomer,” said Herrity.
The board voted unanimously to rename the Fairfax County Animal Shelter for Frey.
“This is an outstanding tribute to him, and I want to fully support this,” said McKay.
Herrity said Frey oversaw the creation of dog parks, was largely responsible” for the renovation of the animal shelter, “worked tirelessly with veterinarians and shelter volunteers to fight for better living conditions for animals in need,” and continues to work for animal welfare in the county even after his “post-supervisor days.”
“Since Mike announced he would retire from the board, we’ve talked about this. I’m pleased,” said Bulova.
The motion passed unanimously, but it also sponsored a further resolution by the board to develop criteria for naming county buildings, entities and anything else after people.
“I’ve always been an advocate for not naming anything for anybody until they have passed from this earth,” said Gross. “There should be criteria for naming things for people.”
Currently, the Board does not have such criteria, said Bulova, “but the Park Authority does, the schools do, ... but we don’t and we probably should.”