Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

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The year 2009 was historic, from the inauguration of the first African-American president in January, to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to that same president in Norway in December.

Traditional events were punctuated by the sounds of combat and dissent on television screens, and mournful notes of buglers playing “Taps” at cemeteries throughout the country in honor of fallen soldiers.

Others will comment about the national and international year in review. Here’s a look back at Mason District in 2009. First, a shout out to service clubs and their volunteers who quietly support Mason District residents and make our community a better place – from the Interact Club at J.E.B. Stuart High School to the various Lions Clubs (Bailey’s Crossroads, Lincolnia, and Annandale) and Rotary – thank you! Volunteers identify needs and step up to fill them. This might be a good time to clear dresser tops and drawers of old eyeglasses. The Lions Club Eye Project will find good homes for your old, but serviceable, spectacles. You can drop them off in the collection box in my office during business hours.

One exciting event of 2009 was the construction of the pedestrian bridge over Route 50 at Seven Corners. Long-time residents will remember the many pedestrian/ vehicle accidents that plagued this stretch of Arlington Boulevard. A bridge was promised by then-Mason District Supervisor Tom Davis in 1983, but was never built. My office worked with the Virginia Department of Transportation and county staffs to secure state funding, get engineering and design work done, and move contract negotiations forward. Late one evening in April, all of Route 50 was closed, a monster crane was brought in, the two sections of the huge span were bolted together, and finally, about 2 a.m., the “lift” began. It was breathtaking, the culmination of years of work to make this area safer for pedestrians. The road was reopened to traffic by 5 a.m. The new bridge opened to pedestrian use a few days later.

In May and in November, volunteers gathered at the Woodrow Wilson Library for the Culmore Cleanup. The cleanup is a tradition, bringing together a diverse group of community volunteers of all ages to collect litter in the vibrant Bailey’s Crossroads area. It’s hard work, but fun at the same time, and a number of local businesses support the effort with in-kind goods, prizes, and financial contributions.

The newest synthetic turf athletic field in the county opened just after Labor Day at Bailey’s Elementary School. The new field replaced what could only be called a “dust bowl,” and is a popular and safe place to play.  Another major public investment in Mason District is a new elementary school to be built next year on the site of the former Masonville School/Lacey Center in Annandale. The new school will be environmentally-friendly, including use of geothermal energy for heating and cooling. Classes should begin in 2012.

Mason District also welcomed Captain Ted Arnn, who succeeded Captain Mike Dittmer as commander of the Mason District Police Station in mid-2009. Captain Dittmer did such a good job in Mason that Chief David Rohrer selected him for a new assignment at headquarters. Many former Mason commanders have moved to leadership positions, a testimony to their excellent work with our engaged and diverse community.

We have much to celebrate as the New Year begins, and 2009 provided a foundation for continued and future success in Mason District. Although we, as a community, have many challenges ahead, I am confident that 2010 will bring many opportunities for cooperation and collaboration once again. Happy New Year!


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov

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