Draft - October 2023 Minutes
Draft - HCA Meeting Minutes October 5, 2023
Zoom meeting attendees: 15
Tamara Srader, President
Mark Rogers, Vice President
Michelle Arsenault, Secretary
Michael Hamill - absent
Official meeting called to Order @19:55 (7:55pm)
Announcement & overview of published agenda
Special Guests: Jonathan L. Kaminski (Community Outreach Officer) and Officer Damaris Ocasio (Crime Prevention Officer) of the Fairfax County Police Department, Mount Vernon District joined us. They discussed “crimes of opportunity” like cars that are left unlocked. Fairfax County has instituted a 9:00 routine/reminder – to check and lock doors (house and car), don’t leave keys in auto, turn on your porch lights. The officers noted there has been an increase in panhandlers in the area. Police ask that people do not give them money - there are lots of resources in Fairfax County for these individuals. Despite the recent issues, Fairfax is still one of the safest counties in the US. The Huntington location is a prime target because of its location near the highway. Officer Kaminski also encouraged use of security cameras. He also noted that crime stats are available on the web.
Staffing levels. Jason asked about staffing levels. Officer Kaminski noted that it has not been an issue in Fairfax County. Sometimes response times are long, but they will always report. Mt Vernon district is well staffed.
Speeding. Bert asked about speeding, especially on Huntington Ave. The Officer urged people to report traffic concerns and they will file a report to do more enforcement. Starting next week there will be more police presence for pedestrian safety awareness week (?). Information can be found on the Fairfax Police website. Mark Rogers asked about enforcement on Northbound Rte. 1 where the speed limit dropped to 35, but cars are still speeding in excess of 50 mph. He also noticed lots of people on cell phones, swerving in the road, which is a hazard to cyclists and pedestrians.
Helicopter traffic. Fairfax County has 2 helicopters that are called out for major events like robberies, missing persons, and stolen vehicles. The helicopters have Infrared (IR) cameras, and a camera that can read license plates. There is information on FF county site about why they are out (might not be in real time).
Neighborhood watch program. The program is still active, and the police department are only partners. It’s helpful to have a neighborhood group that is active and shares information. The Officers are happy to come out and help train people to make sure they know that they are not police officers but are just an extra set of eyes and ears.
Review of Minutes from September 2023 - minutes can be found on the HCA website https://www.huntingtononline.org/single-post/june-2023-minutes-draft. The minutes from the September 2023 meeting were voted on and approved with no corrections.
Treasurer’s Report. No update.
Committee and Other Reports.
MVCCA - Environment and Recreation - Alan Ruof. Absent. No update.
MVCCA - Planning and Zoning - Ray Novitske. Met Monday evening. Most of the meeting was devoted to talking about wetlands, river, and streambank replacement (aka Living shorelines). The Brookside Motel (Richmond Highway, on the East side) was supposed to be renovated, but the county withdrew because of opposition over the stream which is protected.
MVCCA - Transportation Committee - Jason Zaragoza. Met Tuesday and the meeting was ~ 2.5 hours long. There is a public comment period open now, until October 24, seeking comments on the GW Parkway and Mt Vernon trail improvements. The Road Diet Initiative proposes to reduce the road to one lane in various locations, and those in the affected area were in favor, but those on the edges of the sections are opposed, because they were afraid that people would speed to get in front of slower people before the lanes decreased. Changes to turn lanes were not supported. The Committee came to no consensus so it will let communities weigh in.
Express lanes extension. The community does not want on and off ramps dumping into our neighborhood. The proposals are very focused on automobiles only, and not public transportation. The County is looking for feedback about pedestrian safety and crosswalk locations. Jason shared the link to the survey: https://publicinput.com/d1047. Jason encouraged people to comment. Liz noted that someone posted the link on the FB page, and she already took the survey. She also noted that in addition to crosswalks, missing sidewalks are an issue. Jason shared a map of the proposed areas under consideration: https://fairfaxcountygis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=aab63ceb139640308b870bc9a58493fe
MVCCA - Education Committee - Mark Rogers. No meetings over the summer. Mark highlighted a $435M bond issue on the November ballot for school renovations. There are six elementary schools that haven’t been renovated in 37 years. The school system cannot issue bonds, so the county does, and the county caps the amount of bonds to 10% of county seats, so there is a base-level of funding and your taxes won’t increase. Safety vestibules at school entrances are part of the new renovations. About 100 schools don’t have them. Average high school costs 100M to renovate. Don’t forget to vote!
MVCCA is looking for volunteers for committees. More information can be found here on the MVCCA website in the latest issue of The Record. www.mvcca.org. Contact Tamara and she can connect people who would like to volunteer.
HCA President’s Report - Tamara Srader.
Development in the area including updates on Cityside and the Days Inn redevelopment plans. Looking to add ~400 units at Cityside, and 300-500 units on the site of the Days Inn (next to the Moon Inn). Tamara asked for volunteers to give public comments and ask questions. The two most pressing issues are retail and traffic. There is a proposal to add affordable housing on the lot next to Montebello. It would be a change to the comprehensive plan, but they do not need to petition for this change. Ray explained why the retail on Richmond highway looks like it does – because the goal is to concentrate retail into nodes, allowing people to park and walk to several stores without having to drive from place to place. For example, Lowes/Giant/Target; Walmart center. Neighborhood retail is smaller and theoretically people don’t have to drive, but instead can walk. Ray urged people to specify the difference when requesting/commenting on the need for retail.
October - Halloween community activity - status? Kendal Eaux is organizing events. Reach out to Kendal or Tamara if you would like to help.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors - Parking Reimagined. “Parking Reimagined” proposal. https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning-development/zoning-ordinance/parking-reimagined. The Board of Supervisors (BoS) met last week, and Tamara attended as speaker, instead of Secretary. There were 35 speakers, and they were looking for information on parking reimagined, which is moving forward. Stakeholders were opposed because one person, without consultation or public input, could propose any rule change. Developers can put as much parking as they want, but if they charge for parking, then people tend to park on the street.
Fairfax County - Parking Enforcement Update. Lots of parking enforcement in the neighborhood recently. Wesley housing remains active and engaged about parking around the Arden. The HCA also asked the County to monitor other streets in the area, especially with all the new construction.
Call for HCA officer nominations - November elections. Elections for 2024 will take place in November. Please contact Tamara if you are interested in serving. New officers take their seats in January.
HCA budget. Next year we will have a formal budget. Tamara noted that we don’t spend much money. The highest fee we pay is 150.00/year for the Mt. Vernon Council Association.
The stairs at top of Biscayne will not open until December. They were supposed to open in October but have been delayed. Waiting for inspections.
If you are interested in connecting to other community associations, attend MVCCA!
Reminder - please consider your dues – it’s $12.00/year and they can be paid via PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=XHNAXDAUKFHJY.
HCA Member Time (if you would like to discuss a specific topic, please email Tamara Srader, HCA president prior to the meeting at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ray asked about dogs off leash. Is this still a problem? At the levee it’s common.
The meeting was adjourned at 20:38