Update to "County Approves Allocation of Additional $5M for Town of Herndon," December 15-21, 2021- Part of an ongoing series.
Tuesday evening, Dec. 14, marked the conclusion of the Town of Herndon's Downtown Redevelopment project's most recent significant chapter.
At a town council meeting that night, Mayor Sheila Olem was joined by Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila and councilmembers Pradip Dhakal, Signe Friedrichs, Sean Regan, and Jasbinder Singh to vote unanimously in favor of approving a Memorandum of Understanding between the Fairfax County, Board of Supervisors and the Town of Herndon to accept a grant from the Economic Opportunity Reserve (EOR) Fund of $5 million for capital construction of the Herndon Downtown Redevelopment Project. Councilmember Naila Alam was not present.
In an interview hours before the Town Council vote, Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila said he pushed for the economic opportunity funding from "day one." He voiced optimism concerning the pending vote saying, "I imagine all of my council colleagues will vote with unanimous approval. I hope it is." He added, "I'm looking forward to the redevelopment project. Time kills all things … I don't want there to be any more delays."
After the meeting ended, Town Manager William "Bill" Ashton issued a statement saying that the vote of approval paves the way for the project to go forward. "Our partners at Comstock are ready to get this exciting, much-anticipated redevelopment underway. … The town appreciates Fairfax County's support throughout our redevelopment project, with their financial commitment but also with their appreciation for the economic vitality this project represents for Herndon's downtown."
Lisa Merkel, former mayor of Herndon (2012-2020) and vice mayor (2010-2012) who pushed for the project during her time in office said that Fairfax County's willingness to invest $5 million in the town's downtown redevelopment project through economic opportunity funding was a testament to the town's positive relationship with its Fairfax County Board of Supervisor representative, John W. Foust (D-Dranesville).
"For years, residents of Herndon have been overwhelmingly supportive of this small-scale mixed-use downtown plan and excited for its vibrant and active arts district to come alive. Tonight's acceptance of county funding is the culmination of over three decades of effort by town residents, staff, mayors, and councils and demonstrates that this downtown isn't just a pipe dream for the town but an economic development center for both Fairfax and Herndon. I know that we all are eagerly awaiting the groundbreaking ceremony, and I congratulate this council for continuing to move us forward," Merkel said.
Later that evening, Sheila Olem, in her first term as the town's mayor, vice mayor for the 2019-20 term and on the Herndon Town Council since 2010, sent the Connection a photo of herself taken on Dec. 6. It commemorates the signing of the agreement with the Town of Herndon, in which the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved allocating $5 million from the economic opportunity funding to the town for capital construction as part of the Herndon Downtown Redevelopment Project. The photograph depicts Olem at the meeting of the Board of Supervisors immediately following their unanimous approval of the grant to the town.
Olem held up a small sign that said it all:
"The Dig is On in Herndon!"