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  • 09 Nov 2017 8:15 PM | Pam Grosvenor (Administrator)


    The public is invited to attend GFCA's November TownHall meeting on Tuesday, November 14 at 7:00 PM at Great Falls Library, 9830 Georgetown Pike. William Dunn, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Project Manager for the Route 7 Corridor Improvements Project, and other VDOT staff will be speaking on major changes begin planned.

    Almost 7 miles of Route 7 is slated for widening from Tysons to Reston Avenue. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in late 2018/early 2019 and last for about 6 years. While it is expected that planned improvements will increase capacity on Route 7, some Great Falls residents have expressed concern that traffic congestion on Georgetown Pike could increase during construction. GFCA has been discussing this and other issues with VDOT.

    As the last Design Public Hearing was in November 2016, the upcoming TownHall meeting is your opportunity to hear about changes to the plans that have made over the last year, the updated schedule, construction approach, and find out how the project may impact you and your neighborhood.

    Also at this TownHall, GFCA members will be asked to vote on proposed changes to the association's Bylaws. While only GFCA members may vote on the Bylaws, the public is encouraged to attend the meeting and participate in the Route 7 discussion. We look forward to seeing you! 

  • 28 Oct 2017 8:02 AM | Philip Pifer (Administrator)

    GFCA is recommending County funding for three important local projects in the current round of Transportation spending being decided this fall.  At $100M county-wide, this round is small compared to prior years and there will be fierce competition among communities for their local projects. 

    GFCA is asking for citizens' help by completing a short County survey in support of these recommended projects (see instructions below).

    Recommendation

    GFCA has long believed that Great Falls does not receive a fair and equitable proportion of County funding for improvement projects relative to either our tax base or our population, compared to other communities.  GFCA is asking for strong support from our citizens in order to reverse this situation.

    The specific projects we are advocating for funding in this round are:

    1. Intersection improvements at Georgetown Pike (GTP) and Walker Rd.  Full funding ($400K) will allow safe pedestrian crossing in the center of Great Falls Village, and improve safety and the flow of vehicle traffic at this important intersection. [Project ID 466].
    2. Trail along Utterback Store Road from Forestville Elementary to GTP.  Full funding ($700K) will allow children to walk on a safe path from surrounding neighborhoods to the school, rather than being bussed.  Fairfax County Public Schools had determined that walking and biking to schools improves children's health, mental well-being, and educational performance as well as reduces the expense and negatives of bussing. [Project ID 213].
    3. Concept design work ($100K) on GTP trail from Utterback Store Road to Walker Road.  Concept design work would determine the ideal route and most likely cost estimates for this very important trail segment, including north side or south side routing along GTP.  This segment is the most important project toward our vision of an integrated trail system throughout Great Falls that will allow people on foot or bicycle to transit from their neighborhoods to other points in our community, and would complete a trail running from Seneca Road to Great Falls village.  We do not believe that current county cost estimates for these projects are accurate.  Concept design funding would allow an optimal high-level design concept to be determined and accurate construction cost estimates to be set. [Project IDs 616 and 618].

    More on the project benefits:

    •  Project 466 is our highest priority project. It will allow pedestrians to safely cross our two busiest streets and transit on foot throughout our major commercial center (Great Falls Village) and thereby encourage residents to walk to stores, the library  and the Grange, instead of driving to each destination.  It will give students living south of Georgetown Pike the ability to walk to Great Falls Elementary.  Walking to school has been determined by Fairfax County Public Schools to improve student health and academic performance, while also reducing bussing expenses for the County. This project will also improve sight lines for vehicles at the intersection, allowing southbound traffic on Walker to make a right turn on red safely at the intersection, improving the flow of traffic.
    • Project 213 is an important project to link more neighborhoods to the current end of the Georgetown Pike Trail (at Utterback Store Road) that  will soon run all the way to Seneca Road. The project will allow school children along and behind Utterback Store Road to safely walk to Forestville Elementary..
    • Projects 616 and 618 are essential to the completion of the Georgetown Pike Trail from Seneca Road to Walker Road and Great Falls Village. This trail is the backbone to a trail system that one day will allow Great Falls residents, who now must use a car to travel outside their neighborhoods, to transit on foot or bike to other parts of Great Falls. We believe the current Fairfax County DOT cost estimates for these projects are too high – making them appear quite costly, and as a result, making it extremely unlikely they will be constructed. We believe that expending a small amount on high-level initial/concept designs for these trail segments will answer questions about the optimal route and locations of the segments and allow a more accurate cost estimate to be developed. Thus, future funding considerations will be more fact-based. 

    See GFCA's resolution here.

    At total funding of $1.2M, the three projects above represent only 1.2% of the current funding round, whereas Great Fall's population is about 1.7% of county population and contributes an even greater proportion of residential tax revenues.

    Please Help Support These Projects

    We ask Great Falls residents to complete a brief County survey providing their opinions on transportation projects.  It will only take a few minutes of your time.  Please also encourage friends and family to take this survey (the more, the better!).

    Here's how:

    1. Go to the County Survey here
    2. Review the Transportation Priorities Plan list mentioned on the first page of the survey to read descriptions of the projects being considered countywide, if you wish.  Hit "NEXT" to move from page to page through the survey.
    3. As you complete the survey, you will be able to enter two projects you want in each of the following categories:  Transit, Interchanges, Spot Improvements, Road Widening, and Pedestrian.  All of the Great Falls projects above are listed under the Pedestrian Category.  None of the projects listed in the other categories are in Great Falls.
    4. Enter your zipcode
    5. Step through each of the categories, and check at most two projects per category for funding.  If you do not have a preference in a category, check "None of these projects are a priority for me"
    6. Under "Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects" select projects 466 and 616 (Georgetown Pike and Walker Road) and (Georgetown Pike from Utterback Store Rd to Springvale Road)
    7. The last question is "Other Projects You Would Like to See Funded".  Please enter the following two lines:
      Project 213 - Utterback Store Rd
      Projects 616 and 618 - fund concept development only at this time

    That's it!  Thank you for your assistance.

  • 25 Sep 2017 6:46 AM | Phil Pifer (Administrator)

    In June we told you about our initiative to revise and refresh our Bylaws, with the objective of making GFCA more effective and focused on our mission of “promoting all aspects of community interest accruing to a common good” as our Bylaws say, or “Keeping Great Falls Great” as we say more commonly.   We are pleased to announce that the Executive Board in September approved revised Bylaws, and we will be asking the membership to vote to adopt them at our TownHall meeting in November.

    Here are links to 3 documents:

    1. Our current Bylaws
    2. Our proposed Bylaws
    3. Our proposed Policies and Procedures (PPM)

    You can review our proposed Bylaws by downloading them at the link above.  The main changes in the new Bylaws are:

    • Reduce the size of our Executive Board from 21 to 17 directors to streamline decision making and improve meeting efficiency;  eliminate special directors drawn only from HOAs in the community
    • Clarify Officer duties
    • Create an Officers Committee to coordinate and improve the flow of activity throughout the organization, make Board meetings more effective, and be responsive to time sensitive issues until the Board can engage on them
    • Establish “Policies and Procedures” to guide internal practices consistent with the Bylaws, which “operationalize” consistent best practices throughout GFCA in important areas.
    • Allow a procedure by which Board Members and Officers might be removed from office for misconduct
    • Allow a procedure for electronic polling or voting by members on issues or resolutions where member input is desired and an in-person meeting is impractical or not timely
    • Correct a flaw in our current Bylaws so that a resolution by members must be brought to a vote of the entire membership
    • Make a number of changes to the way our committees operate: committee procedures, committee chairs and duties, applying conflict of interest rules that currently only apply to Board members, and committee membership.
    • Clarify some financial and budget practices

    You can also review the initial draft of the Policies and Procedures Manual (PPM) by downloading it from the link above.  The PPM lines up with the Bylaws, and provides amplification of the bylaws with policies and procedures designed to codify best practices and serve as guidelines for how the GFCA should function internally.  This initial draft is only a start on what will be a somewhat longer PPM overtime, and in it, in addition to sections already written, are placeholders for additional sections yet to be written.

    If you have questions or comments, please contact the Bylaws Committee at bylaws@gfca.org
  • 25 Sep 2017 6:20 AM | Phil Pifer (Administrator)

    One of GFCA’s major initiatives over the past 3 years has been development of plans for a comprehensive trails system to connect the Great Falls community – allowing residents to transit and recreate on foot or by bike from their neighborhoods to other points of interest in Great Falls such as the Village, schools, and parks.

    Recent projects beginning to fill out the Georgetown Pike trail between the Village and Seneca Rd are a direct result of this effort.  But these are just the beginning stages of what will be many years of work to complete and require a consistent Vision pursued with persistence and diligence in funding and construction.

    Another important foundation has just been set:  on Sep 19 the GFCA Executive Board formally adopted a set of policies called:  “GFCA Guidelines for Trail Design and Construction in Great Falls”.  This is the result of 18 months of exploration into the reasons why Great Falls trail development has failed in the past both overall and at the trail project level.  In addition to work of our task force, we worked with other local organizations, most notably Trailblazers, as well as County staff, on the development and specific conclusions.

    The new Guidelines:

    1. Establish a clear Vision for the development of a comprehensive trails system in Great Falls
    2. Set principles to be followed in trails development, derived from lessons learned from past projects
    3. Protect our community’s unique historic and aesthetic character, as well as our environment
    4. Ensure that trails built in the future will be functional, durable, and support the needs of the community for decades.

    The Guidelines are available here.   Our trails team is already hard at work with the county and other authorities on their implementation.  The next phases of the Georgetown Pike Trail (Phases III and IV, mentioned in another article) have been designed consistent with these guidelines.

    If you have an interest in Trails and would like to be on an email distribution list for future updates, please send your name, home address, and email address to: trails@gfca.org
  • 18 Sep 2017 5:56 PM | Phil Pifer (Administrator)

    In continuing efforts to build an interconnected trail system in Great Falls allowing people to leave their neighborhoods on foot or bike, GFCA encourages citizens to attend a community meeting on the next phase to be constructed, called "Georgetown Pike Phase IV."  This meeting will be held on Oct 4, 7 p.m. at the Great Falls Library.


    The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) is holding a community meeting concerning the Georgetown Pike Trail Phase IV project, which will complete a 1200' long section of trail between Falls Bridge Lane and Seneca Road. County Staff will discuss design elements of the trail and answer questions.

    Schematics of the intermediate design are available here:

    This is a follow-up to a meeting that was held on March 22, 2017 which focused on Phase III of the trail and the preliminary designs for Phase IV.

    More information about both Phase III and Phase IV is available online at:

    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/pedestrian/georgetownpiketrail.htm

    The public is invited to comment on the project online; by writing to FCDOT at 4050 Legato Road, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033; or by calling 703-877-5600. Comments are due by Friday, October 27, 2017.

    Please feel free to share this information with your friends and neighbors.


  • 05 Aug 2017 12:10 PM | Phil Pifer (Administrator)

    The Fairfax County Police Department Media Relations Bureau reminds our residents of their use of CrimeReports.com, a website devoted to increasing community awareness of police-related events occurring in Great Falls and throughout Fairfax County. CrimeReports.com provides a convenient, web-based platform which allows the police to pursue their pledge of greater transparency and community engagement. 

    The Police say CrimeReports.com is easy to use. Interested residents can use it to view police activity, sign up for updates, and instantly send anonymous tips to the Fairfax County Crime Solvers network. The police believe that CrimeReports.com will provide the public with a positive online experience as well as enhance community awareness and understanding of police activity in our neighborhoods. 

    To see a map of recent crimes reported in and around Great Falls, go here

    Questions? Contact the Fairfax County Police Media Relations Bureau, at 703-246-2253, or by e-mail at: fcpdmedia@fairfaxcounty.gov

  • 01 Aug 2017 1:23 PM | Phil Pifer (Administrator)

    Fairfax County has called a special election to fill an open seat on the School Board August 29th. This seat was made vacant when an at-Large member moved out of the County.  All registered voters in Fairfax County are eligible to vote, and 4 candidates have filed papers to be on the ballot. 

    Three of them, Ms. Michael Owens, Mr. Chris Grisafe, and Karen Keys-Gamarra have committed to coming to a Candidate Night at 7:30 p.m., August 8th, at the Great Falls Library.  The other candidate, Sandra Allen, declined our invitation. 

    Special Elections, especially those set according to Virginia Law in the summer months, often have low turn-out. Being informed and voting in this special election provides those that do vote an out-sized impact. Over 50% of the Fairfax County operating budget is spent on schools; the School Board has complete control on how that money is put to use.

  • 29 Jul 2017 9:58 AM | Phil Pifer (Administrator)

    The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) agreed in July to drop the use of crumb rubber for the construction of a planned soccer field #7 at Nike Park (next to Forestville School).  Their decision followed the adoption of a June 28 resolution by the GFCA Executive Board stating that GFCA:

    • has been and continues to be opposed to the construction of playing fields utilizing tire crumb rubber, due to continued questions of safety posing risk to players, spectators, storm water, and well water;
    • calls for a countywide ban on use of crumb rubber on fields and transitioning away from fields built with hazardous materials;
    • asks for the County to establish a citizens task force to study the safety and characteristics (lifecycle cost, durability, warranty validity, and functionality) of alternative playing field surfaces including both artificial and natural grass materials; and
    • supports proceeding without further delay with the construction of Nike 7 – due to the needs of the soccer sports league – by selecting an alternative surface that does not include tire crumb rubber .

    In response to the GFCA position, Supervisor John Foust replied to GFCA within days, letting us know that he had requested that FCPA not use crumb rubber on Nike 7 and instead should select an “appropriate artificial or grass alternative as soon as possible.” 

    GFCA is disappointed that FCPA did not invite public discussion of this field last fall when it initially agreed to build an artificial field with the soccer association. A more thorough examination of alternatives for safe playing field construction, such as natural grass, is warranted and overdue. GFCA plans to press the County to establish an independent and objective process to evaluate playing field surfaces and work to ban crumb rubber on other Fairfax County and Northern Virginia fields, on which our children play when competing.


  • 20 Jun 2017 7:06 AM | Phil Pifer (Administrator)

    Did you know that the beginning of the Global Positioning System, now used throughout the world, was created in 1961-1963, in Great Falls?

    Members of the public are invited to a dedication ceremony for a new historical marker at Observatory Park at The Turner Farm on Saturday, June 24, 2017. Local and state officials, community members and former employees of the U.S. Army Map Service and Defense Mapping Agency will be in attendance. The event is sponsored by the Fairfax County Park Authority and the Analemma Society. Although the marker will be located on the west side of Springvale Road, south of Georgetown Pike, the ceremony will take place near the observatory.

    The marker honors the work of the U.S. Army Map Service and its contribution to the Global Positioning System, better known as GPS, that is now used worldwide for navigation. Observatory Park at The Turner Farm, also a former Nike missile site, served as a support facility for geo-location and navigation beginning in 1961, establishing precise geographical reference points on the Earth’s surface. In 1963, the U.S. Army Map Service initiated a significant satellite tracking program that became part of the Defense Mapping Agency in 1972.

    In the words on the marker, “The satellite tracking system contributed fundamentally to the Global Positioning System or GPS. Until 1993, the data gathered at this facility also enabled geospatial scientists to further refine both their estimates of the Earth’s true shape and variations in its gravity field.”

    A dedication will be held at 10 a.m. at the park, with remarks from historians and local and state officials.

    Turner Farm is located at 925 Springvale Road, Great Falls, VA. For more information about the ceremony, please contact the Public Information Office at 703-324-8662 or via Parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov.  

    Further information is available here

  • 31 May 2017 1:56 PM | Pam Grosvenor (Administrator)

    The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) will host a public meeting to share information about Turner Farm Park and listen to suggestions from the community as part of the process to update the farm's Master Plan. The meeting will be held on:

    Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
    Great Falls Grange
    9818 Georgetown Pike

    A project webpage (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/plandev/turnerfarm.htm) has been created where you can find out more information about the park and the planning process as well as provide comments and request project updates. The webpage will be updated throughout the master planning process.

    FCPA welcomes your thoughts and questions on the Turner Farm Park Master Plan. The authority can reached via e-mail at parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov.

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