Great Falls Citizens Association ©

To serve as a non-partisan community political advocate to promote all aspects of community interest accruing to a common good and to preserve the historic, low density, semi-rural character of Great Falls and its natural resources.

July TownHall - Turner Farm
\At GFCA’s monthly TownHall meeting (July 8), the past and future of Turner Farm was discussed.  Representatives of civic groups active at Turner Farm presented history and described their groups’ activities and plans.  The meeting ended with a high-level discussion of the potential direction of future development at Turner Farm.

The meeting was triggered by Fairfax County Park Authority’s (FCPA) plans to revisit the Master Development Plan for the Farm in order to incorporate the recently acquired Farmhouse and related lots into the Plan.  Created in 2000, some updating of non-Farmhouse elements of the Plan may also be undertaken.  GFCA has been asked by the FCPA to facilitate some community discussion and provide some input to FCPA prior to the start of formal Plan revision activities in May 2015.  These activities will include more community comment and involvement, starting as early as next summer.

The meeting was a productive exchange of ideas and philosophies for use of the Farm.  Beverly Bradford, representing Save the Farm (one of the principal groups responsible for creating the funding and support to establish Turner Farm as a park) presented the history and important developments in the life of Turner Farm.  A round table discussion followed the presentation, anchored by John Adams (Georgetown Pike Association), Ginger Nelson Yale (Turner Farm Team), Charles Olin (Analemma Society), Richard Bliss (former Dranesville District FCPA Board Member and founder of Northern VA Conservation Trust), Chris Lehman (Great Falls Lacrosse Association) and Nicole Gnozzio (Riverbend Pony Club).  Many members of these and other groups were in attendance and participated in the meeting.

Overall, people agreed that the program was informative and helped foster a better understanding of Turner Farm and its position as a unique resource for our community and for Fairfax County.  For example, the Analemma Society’s astronomical education programs touch many adults and children from near and far.  The equestrian activities similarly benefit many.   A consistent theme from all the presentations and discussion is that Turner Farm has an environment of “low intensity, dark at night” activities and that this is central to the Farm’s current uses as well as to its unique aesthetic.  Eric Knudsen, GFCA President, held an informal, non-binding straw poll at the conclusion asking:  “do you support maintaining Turner Farm’s historic focus on ‘low intensity, dark at night’ uses”?  Support for that was unanimous by a show of hands among the 40-50 people in attendance.

June TownHall - GFCA Election Results and Plans for 2014-2015
The Great Falls Citizens Association annual election held June 10, for the term commencing July 1, 2014 resulted in the election of four new directors: Matt Haley, Torsten Kracht, Dawn McPhee, and Zaheer Poptani,. Re-elected were President Eric Knudsen, Vice-President Bill Canis, and directors Ralph Apton, Jack Clark, Pam Grosvenor, Scott Knight, Philip Pifer, and Jennifer Semko.

Continuing for a second year are Secretary Debbie Copito, Immediate Past President Jackie Taylor, and directors Ruth Carver, Wayne Foley, Bill Harvey, Ed Phillips, and Amy Stephan.

At the June 17 GFCA Board Meeting, Bud Thompson was elected as Treasurer and David Kondner was selected to fill the remaining Board seat.
The June 10 meeting was also an “Open Mic” forum at which community opinions on a number of topics were discussed, including: 
Trails – desirability of a network of multiuse trails?
Transportation – burning issues/concerns about
congestion and traffic?
Deer and Forest Management - how do we protect our local forests?
Grange / Old Schoolhouse – long-term use and
Central Village Sewage – a long-term problem?
Turner Farm – long-term use and strategy?

GFCA wanted Great Falls residents opinions on these topics in order to frame its agenda for the upcoming year.

VDOT Pavement Rehabilitation
VDOT plans to rehabilitate approximately 7.5 miles of pavement along Route 193 from east of Springvale Road to southeast of I-495. The work is projected to begin in Spring 2014 and continue through December 2014. Some areas will require deep patches, and the roadway will be resurfaced once the repairs are made.

Other local roads roads scheduled to be repaved this year include: (i) Beach Mill Road from Springvale Road to Maria Avenue, (ii) Springvale Road from Brevity Drive to Beach Mill Road, (iii) Towlston Road from Route 7 to Old Dominion Drive, and (iv) Walker Road from Colvin Run Road to just north of Georgetown Pike. For more detailed information on the exact limits of these projects, click here.

Roads, Traffic and Tolls
The Great Falls Citizens Association Transportation Committee, in collaboration with the Transportation Committee of the McLean Citizens Association, met with Aubrey Layne, Virginia’s new Secretary of Transportation. For more information, click here

Plans Revealed for Grange Renovation
For details, click here

Great Falls Legacy White Oak Project
The white oak is considered the king of east coast trees because of its potential to grow into a very large, strong tree with sweeping crown and longevity of several centuries.  In 2014, the Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA), in conjunction with Fairfax County, is initiating a program to ensure that future generations know the beauty of these giant trees.

The program is based on tax-deductible contributions that residents make for the planting and watering of 8-10 foot tall native white oaks in county parks and the library in Great Falls.   Our goal is to plant 15 new trees in fall 2014.  With your help, we can do it! For details, click here

Resident Curatorship as Historic
GFCA has been a long-time supporter of the concept of Resident Curatorship (RC) as a common-sense solution to the need to preserve historic buildings, such as the historic farmhouse on Turner Farm in Great Falls.  Many other community organizations have expressed similar support for, and interest in, the idea.

Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) has responsibility for the County’s Resident  Curatorship programs, authorized by the state in 2011. This week, FCPA issued a draft “Resident Curatorship Program Study” and is seeking public comments by August 6. GFCA is requesting that FCPA schedule a public hearing prior to that date to discuss the study.  GFCA also will sponsor a working group of interested parties to evaluate the report and provide comments to FCPA prior to August 6.

Last year, GFCA passed a Resolution supporting the Mark Turner residence as a primary candidate for the new RC program. Six of the 24 initial RC sites listed in the FCPA Report are located in the Dranesville district, including the Turner residence and Dranesville Tavern. Community residents, GF Historical Society, Analemma Society, equestrian groups, and GFCA all are concerned that the Mark Turner building has become a Georgetown Pike eyesore with no upkeep since acquired by FCPA four years ago.  Quick action to implement an RC program there could be a solution.

In mid-2013, three different groups expressed preliminary interest in renovating the Mark Turner building at an estimated  $750,000 to $1 million investment, in exchange for a long-term virtually-free lease. The interested parties were a private family, a quasi-commercial bed and breakfast operation. GFCA recommends that potential candidates review the FCPA Study and prepare applications with a rehabilitation work plan consistent with U.S. Interior Department “Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitation, Restoring and Reconstructing Historic Buildings.”  To assure continued night-time darkness for on-going Observatory activities at Turner Farm, maintaining night-time darkness should be an essential consideration.   Similar consideration should be given to co-existence and fit with other core activities at the Farm such as equestrian activities. For dditional details and a copy of the full FCPA report, click here  

May TownHall - Forestville School Septic & Sewer Options
At the May 13 TownHall meeting the proposed options to expand the Forestville Elementary School septic system to meet code requirements and prevent closing the school was discussed by members of the Capital Projects and Sustainable Design Office of the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). On May 20, the GFCA Executive Board approved a letter to the Dranesville Supervisor and the Dranesville School Board Representative supporting the proposed FCPS recommendations. Assuming all approvals are obtained, design and construction might commence this summer. The current FCPS preference is for a gravity sewer routed through the middle of the Park Authority Nike site property. It would be limited to the minimum size necessary for the school to prevent any other sewer connections. The three other possible options not under active consideration are: replacing existing Park Authority athletic fields with a suitable septic field; several trucks per week pumping and hauling waste; or, a packaged waste treatment facility requiring a suitable storm water channel adjacent to the school and some waste material hauling by trucks. Speaker: Steve Nicholson, Coordinator of Capital Projects and Sustainable Design,
Office of Design & Construction, Fairfax County Public Schools

Virginia DEQ Approves Contaminated Site Cleanup Plan
In January, the state Department of Environmental Quality approved the first phase Corrective Action Plan (CAP) that details the start of cleanup activities at the old Exxon station.  GFCA provided active input to the final CAP.  While we are not pleased with all elements of the CAP, substantial improvements have been made to the draft CAP released in the fall, and we are pleased that cleanup has begun.  For further information, click here

GFCA Membership Renewal
Annual memberships expired on June 30. If your membership was expiring, you received e-mail or a postal notice last month with renewal instructions. If you received a renewal notice, and have renewed your membership, thank you! If you have not yet renewed your membership, please take a moment and renew today. If you have any questions about membership and renewals, please contact the Membership Team.






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