Opinion: Commentary: Community Discussion Regarding New Penn Daw Fire Station, Emergency, Supportive & Affordable Housing

Opinion: Commentary: Community Discussion Regarding New Penn Daw Fire Station, Emergency, Supportive & Affordable Housing

Thank you to the hundreds of residents who attended our first two virtual community meetings about the proposed new Penn Daw Fire Station, Emergency, Supportive and Affordable Housing project at Beacon Hill Road and Richmond Highway.

It was wonderful to see so many people (even if not in person yet) come together this early in the process to support, question and express concerns about this project. Between the two meetings, County staff and I answered hundreds of your questions for over three hours and read well over 1,000 questions and comments in the Zoom chat.

As outreach for these meetings, there were articles in our newsletter and the Mount Vernon Gazette, a project sign at the Beacon Hill location, mailed over 1,000 postcards to nearby residents, and posted on Nextdoor, Facebook and Twitter.

For those of you who attended the meetings, I hope you came away with a better understanding of the proposed project, that your voice was heard and some key facts.

  • The Penn Daw Fire Station is 53 years old and needs to be replaced.

  • The Eleanor Kennedy building is 100 years old and must be replaced. The County leases this refurbished and antiquated pump house from Fort Belvoir and renovating it is not an option.

  • Staff has spent over five years looking for new locations and this is the best location that has been identified thus far.

  • County priorities include preventing and ending homelessness through support and assistance, as well as collocating facilities for functionality and cost savings.

  • I will continue to listen to the community – including those who support, those who are uncertain and those who are concerned and upset – about this proposed project, as well as to identify additional sites for emergency and supportive housing.

  • The facilities proposed will be state-of-the-art, modern buildings with enhanced amenities and programming.

For those of you who were unable to attend the meetings, we will be posting the meeting videos on the project webpage in the next few days. https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/publicworks/capital-projects/penn-daw-fire-station-and-supportive-housing

Follow ups and next steps include:

  • Posting additional FAQs from questions posed at the meetings.

  • Posting the meeting videos to the project website for those who missed the meetings.

  • Scheduling a community in-person meeting at the Beacon Hill location.

  • Scheduling a tour of the Eleanor Kennedy Shelter with all interested residents.

  • Meetings with homeowners associations and community groups – let my office know if you have a group who would like to meet with me.

  • The Penn Daw Fire Station and Supportive Housing Committee (which includes area residents) will continue to meet monthly and liaise with the community.

As always, I am available Thursday evenings and second Saturdays for meetings with residents on any topic. Most of all, please know your voices are being heard and there will be much more public discussion of this proposed project in the months ahead. Contact information for our office: mtvernon@fairfaxcounty.gov or 703-780-7518. Project specific questions can be asked to the project manager whose contact information is on the project website: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/publicworks/capital-projects/penn-daw-fire-station-and-supportive-housing.