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Civic groups across Fairfax have robust 2024 agendas planned out

From zoning to pedestrian safety, there is much on plate of community-based organizations

Civic associations in Great Falls, McLean, Vienna, Oakton and Providence District are not letting up in their monitoring of local affairs, advocacy with government officials and provision of community events.

The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) is keeping an eye on Fairfax County’s upcoming budget cycle and anticipated revenue shortfalls, said president Linda Walsh.

“Our members are concerned about increases in real-estate-tax bills, especially for those on fixed incomes,” she said. “On the other end, there also is the need for affordable housing so new families can live, work and play in this wonderful community.”

Some key topics for MCA this year:

• Watching the affects of commercial-to-residential building conversions on public services, infrastructure and tax revenues.

• Evaluating impacts from data centers.

• Seeking more affordable and workforce housing.

• Pressing for better estimates of future impacts of developments, such as higher student enrollment.

• Scrutinizing how the county will meet its pension obligations.

• Making sure Tysons developments complement the evolution of surrounding communities and do not negatively affect them.

• Ensuring Tysons continues to provide its fair share of funding for required road projects to mitigate traffic congestion.

• Monitoring local transportation initiatives and ensuring adequate funding for sidewalks and trails.

• Keeping tabs on the 495 NEXT project’s impacts on the environment and local residents.

• Tracking progress on several key local intersection and roadway improvements.

• Making basic Community Emergency Response Team training courses available in McLean in late spring or early summer.

• Holding another public-safety forum with leadership of the county police department’s McLean District Station.

• Holding a Senior Safety Summit on April 24.

• Reviewing Fairfax County Public Schools’ spending on administrative support versus funding that supports teachers.

• Examining how the school system manages student discipline and prioritizes school renovations.

• Increasing parental awareness of opioid abuse.

• Seeking more state funding for K-12 education.

• Opposing casinos in Fairfax County, particularly in Tysons.

The Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA) is focusing on these issues:

• GFCA’s Schools Task Force will examine boundary and capacity issues affecting Great Falls schools.

• The group is concerned about overflowing trash receptacles at Seneca Corner’s fast-food eateries.

• GFCA is celebrating the recent $775,000 in Fairfax County funding to build signalized crosswalks at the villages central intersection at Georgetown Pike and Walker Road. The Board of Supervisors also has approved $96,200 to convert from stone dust to asphalt a trail that will run between Route 7 at Forestville Elementary School.

• The association opposes proposals to build a casino in Tysons and will monitor legislative efforts to solve the housing-affordability crisis by allowing higher density in single-family residential zones.

• GFCA this year also will launch a new initiative to promote Great Falls’ historical and cultural assets.

The Greater Oakton Community Association (GOCA), a nonpolitical, all-volunteer nonprofit created in 2019, seeks to share community information, establish new programs benefiting the community, promote civic engagement and preserve the area’s historic and environmental assets, said co-founder Shelley Deutch.

The group in 2024 intends to publish a community directory for the third straight year. It also will organize several community events, including a first-ever celebration of Oakton’s “birthday,” pony rides at Oakton Community Park, a birding walk and a birdhouse-building workshop, bus tours about Oakton history featuring local historian Jim Lewis and holding the third annual Oakton Day in the Park.

Because Oakton is not incorporated, GOCA represents community interests, Deutch said.  The group wants to ensure development is balanced and does not strain traffic, schools and green space.

GOCA especially is focused on proposed redevelopment of the AT&T site at Route 123 and Jermantown Road and working with other local groups to ensure the developer is responsive to community concerns.

The group has been working to make Oakton Community Park a greater community resource and is in the final stages of negotiations with the Fairfax County Park Authority to open the historical schoolhouse there on a more regular basis.

GOCA also supports pedestrian-safety  initiatives and is working with Supervisor  Dalia Palchik’s (D-Providence) office to extend the sidewalk along Hunter Mill Road between Oakton Library and Oakton Community Park.

Strong support for that project on a petition and a Fairfax County Department of Transportation survey did not result in funding last year, but GOCA will continue to press for this project.

GOCA also hopes to persuade the Virginia Department of Transportation to give Oakton greater recognition in its signage. “The signs on I-66 westbound noting the Oakton exit were removed when that roadway was expanded, and all other signs point only to Vienna or Fairfax,” Deutch said.

The Providence District Council intends to remain a strong voice on behalf of property owners, homeowner associations and local civic associations’ membership, said Jeff Agnew, the group’s interim president.

“We anticipate that land-use and zoning will continue to be key issues in 2024,” he said. “As has been our practice for the past year, we intend to hold quarterly programs. Topics will include public safety, affordable housing, education and legislative updates from Richmond, as well as other issues impacting Fairfax County and Providence District residents.”

North East Vienna Citizens Association leaders plan to ask all newer residents in the town’s northeast quadrant to join the organization.

“Membership levels are a priority as we make specific recommendations to the Town Council to improve our community,” said vice president Doug Francis. “NEVCA has been an important community voice for 25 years and we want input from our new members. Our 2024 goals include working closely with the town of Vienna’s mandate to plant trees in public spaces, while maintaining healthy mature trees in Glyndon Park and along Beulah Road.”