Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

This summer’s storms created havoc for homeowners, as tree limbs, and sometimes entire trees, crashed down onto roadways, yards and, sadly, onto homes. Storm after storm created intense demands for brush and bulk collection from residents who live in the county’s designated sanitary service districts, which include about 43,000 households, or about 10 percent of the county, including some Mason District neighborhoods. The annual fee for county trash collection is listed as a separate item on the real estate tax bill. The remaining 90 percent of the county is served by private trash haulers, who bill customers separately.

County customers also receive up to five bulk pickups per year for oversized, loose, combustible materials or brush, but because brush and bulk pickups require specialized equipment to handle and haul, customers must call the Solid Waste Management Program (SWMP) at 703-802-3322, or schedule service on-line. Once a request is received, SWMP schedules one of six knuckle boom cranes to provide the service. Loads that exceed 10 cubic yards (usually the result of an eviction or major remodeling project) are designated “mega bulk,” and are assessed a fee based on volume. During normal periods, crews average 75 brush pickups and 85 bulk pickups per day.

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This summer has not been a normal period. When a storm event is severe, and/or over a broad area, or when volume exceeds SWMP’s capacity to pick up in a timely manner, an outside emergency contractor is deployed. Requests for service following the May storm event averaged 150 brush pickups and 125 bulk pickups per day, with some daily spikes reaching 300 to 400, and the outside emergency contractor was utilized. Similarly, following the unprecedented July 8 storm, the emergency contractor was reactivated. Some yard waste services were delayed as the focus was on storm debris. Operations are expected to return to normal collection schedules by the end of the week, barring more severe storms.

As a result of the challenges faced both by customers and county crews, a new action plan has been announced by SWMP, to help reduce future service interruptions. Annual customer notifications about the need to call and schedule brush and bulk pickups will be updated and refreshed via direct mailings. Service status and schedule changes will be provided to customers and, to respond to constituent inquiries, magisterial district offices will be notified of any significant service disruptions. We know there will be storms in the county’s future (September traditionally is heavy hurricane season). The new action plan, most likely, will be tested before we know it!

On Monday, I had the pleasure of welcoming a new business to Barcroft Plaza on Columbia Pike. Navy Federal Credit Union opened a new branch to better serve its many members, and proving, again, that Mason District is a great place to do business. Barcroft Plaza’s renovations are nearly complete, and the attractive new office is located halfway between Glory Days and Harris Teeter, so should be easy to find.

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There’s just one more week of free summer concerts at Mason District Park. Tomorrow’s show will feature Tom Paxton; Sunday is the United States Air Force Airmen of Note, Wednesday will have Squeeze Bayou, and the season ends on Friday, Aug. 23, with the Beatles cover tribute band “The Apple Core.” Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and last about an hour. See you there!

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