HAPPENING TOMORROW: County supervisors to consider Canterbury Woods trash petition - Yard waste delays plague Mason District - Stuff the Bus food drive on Saturday

Consulting firm evaluates school boundaries - Superintendent warns parents over TikTok “challenges” - Construction underway on Hidden Oaks expansion

Welcome to Braddock Buzz! Apologies for skipping last week’s edition without notice–our kids were home sick, which threw our work schedules for a loop. We’re happy to report everyone is now back in good health. Keep the news, tips, and feedback coming to braddockbuzz@gmail.com

Thank you to our sponsors:

  • Realtor Jennifer Mack, whose column explores a recent study that says this week, Oct. 3-9, is the best week of the year to buy a home. Reach out to Jennifer with real estate questions and column ideas at jennifer@jennifermackproperties.com

  • WorkAway Solutions, your neighborhood coworking space in Ravensworth. WorkAway offers half-day and full-day passes, with coffee and refreshments included. Book a tour today!

  • We’re looking for a third regular advertiser for this space. If interested, email braddockbuzz@gmail.com

HAPPENING TOMORROW: County supervisors to consider Canterbury Woods trash petition: The Board of Supervisors will meet tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. to consider petitions from Canterbury Woods and several other neighborhoods to move from private to county waste pickup. The hearing comes more than a year after 292 of the 517 homeowners in Canterbury Woods voted in favor of county trash collection–a process that has been delayed because of the pandemic and a national shortage of licensed commercial drivers.

“I'm looking forward to the public hearing,” said petition organizer Dale Johnson, president of the Canterbury Woods Civic Association. “We are grateful as a community that we have the opportunity to get our request in front of the board, as we know that not all of the communities that submitted a trash petition were able to get in front of the board due to the backlog due in part to COVID.”

A few quick facts:

  • The county’s public works department had originally opposed the petition, saying it lacked the resources to add new trash routes, but has since reversed itself. “We are confident that we can provide quality service to the Canterbury Woods neighborhood,” said Lainie Shifflett, an official with the county’s Solid Waste Management Program.

  • Back in August, Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw expressed optimism that the petition would be approved. “Throughout this process, I've said that I will support the community's desire to have county waste collection as long as I am confident that the county has the capacity and workforce to provide the high-quality service our residents deserve,” he told us. “I look forward to hearing from the community during the public hearing and am optimistic that the board will approve the creation of the new district.” 

  • Other neighborhoods, including Truro, are watching the process closely and may consider petitions of their own because of frustrations with the two private trash collectors, American Disposal Services and Republic Services.

You can find information on how to attend or stream the hearing here.

Yard waste delays plague Mason District: Last week, the Annandale Blog ran a story that we expect opponents of the Canterbury Woods petition will bring up during tomorrow’s hearing. Bags of yard waste are piling up all over the Annandale/Mason District, including in one neighborhood where a resident says there hasn’t been a yard waste pickup in over four weeks. The Annandale Blog notes that Fairfax County handles waste pickup for just 10% of households–but that covers the majority of the Mason District.

The reason for the pickup delays is the ongoing driver shortage, according to John Kellas, the county’s director of solid waste and recycling. “There is a tremendous amount of competition for drivers, which has an impact on our ability to recruit and retain,” Kellas said. “Since COVID-19, the home delivery business has skyrocketed, often providing more attractive and lucrative trucking jobs in the private sector. Even private solid waste/recycling haulers are struggling during these times.”


Schools

Consulting firm evaluates school boundaries: FCPS has hired a national consulting firm, MGT, to review its decades-old policies for adjusting school boundaries–an extremely sensitive issue in a high-cost county where parents often choose their homes based on the quality of the school pyramid. MGT executives have held several virtual meetings to explain the objectives of their study and assure parents their review will not make any specific recommendations regarding boundaries. “This process is not about changing the boundaries today,” said Kasey Price, director of MGT’s education solutions group. “It is about understanding what the policy is and what should be considered when reviewing the policy.”

MGT conducted a parent survey and will share its findings with the School Board later this year. Boundary adjustments are expected in the coming years because of several factors:

  • Some schools are chronically overcrowded, which is expected to get worse because of projected population growth.

  • Many schools currently rely on trailers, with more than 750 in use across the school system.

  • There is increased demand for pre-K classrooms.

  • The current level of bond funding is not enough to keep up with the school renovations needed to meet capacity demands. Schools are renovated on a 37-year cycle, and MGT estimates it needs to be about half of that.

“The efficient use of infrastructure is of the utmost importance because there’s only a finite amount of money that school districts have, and it is the goal of most school districts to spend that on the success of students and not on school buses or keeping buildings open that are not at capacity,” said Mike Raisor, MGT’s executive vice president for client solutions.

School Briefs

  • FCPS had a record-high graduation rate for the class of 2021, with 94.6% of students graduating on time, up from 93% in 2020, WTOP News reports. Significant achievement gaps remain, though, including for English Language Learners.

  • Superintendent Scott Brabrand sent a letter to parents warning that “challenges” being promoted on the social media site TikTok, including videos encouraging kids to vandalize school bathrooms and “smack a staff member,” could lead to severe disciplinary measures and criminal charges, reports NBC4 Washington.

  • FCPS has removed two books from high school libraries after speakers at a School Board meeting denounced them for having sexually explicit content, The Washington Post reports. Two committees are now reviewing the books, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison and “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, to determine if they’re appropriate for school-age children.


Sponsor Message

WorkAway Solutions offers flexible coworking space

Book a tour with WorkAway Solutions today, or contact owner Susan King Glosby with any questions you might have about coworking at susan@workawaysolutions.com


Service

Stuff the Bus food donations accepted next Saturday: The next Stuff the Bus food drive will be held on Saturday from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. at locations throughout the county, including the Braddock District supervisor’s office (9002 Burke Lake Road) and the Oaks Community Center. More information on the Stuff the Bus website.


News in Brief

  • A house fire Sept. 26 on the 4000 block of Ossian Hall Lane in Annandale was caused by improperly discarded ashes from a fire pit, according to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Nobody was home at the time of the fire, which caused an estimated $4,000 in damages.

  • The Fairfax County Health Department is now offering Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots for those who qualify under CDC guidelines. More information, including a list of the four groups who are eligible, is here.

  • The county has set a deadline of Oct. 11 for all employees to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing, reports FFX Now.

  • The Fairfax County Police Department has stopped publishing the names of people arrested and charged with crimes because of concerns the information could be used by federal immigration officials, WTOP News reports. The department’s latest weekly crime report instead identifies those arrested only by their ages, genders, and, in some cases, locations of residence.

  • The union representing Fairfax County police officers says the department is more than 100 officers short and faces a staffing crisis because of low pay, reports ABC 7 News.

  • Construction is underway on a $1.2 million expansion of the Hidden Oaks Nature Center, the Annandale Blog reports. The center will be closed for several months starting early next year for interior renovations including new offices, a new multipurpose room, and accessible restrooms.


Real Estate

Sponsored Content

Jennifer Mack column: It’s the best week of the year to buy a home

A new study from Realtor.com indicates that this week, Oct. 3-9, may be the best week of the year to purchase a home. Realtor.com analyzed historical sales data, including listing prices, inventory levels, days on market, price adjustments, and views per property on their real estate website. According to the study, during the week of Oct. 3, you should expect to see 7.2% more active listings than the average week, and 17.6% more than at the start of a typical year. This means that homebuyers will face 18% less competition from other buyers than during the summer peak and 6% less than during an average week. 

This can translate to big savings for buyers–as much as $10,000 on a median priced home in the U.S. Since our area is priced well above the national average, local buyers could see even more savings. All of these factors, combined with the current low interest rates, make it a great time for buyers who have been waiting on the sidelines to pull the trigger on a new home in time for the holidays. 

Anxious or analytical buyers will appreciate that, because of the longer days on the market during this week, they get seven more days than average to consider a home. This is welcome news for those who find it difficult to make decisions within one or two days, as was the case this spring and summer. The homes in best condition will still sell the first weekend, but many good homes are lasting longer. 

Jennifer Mack has more than 16 years of experience in the real estate industry, with her team servicing Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Contact her at jennifer@jennifermackproperties.com or by calling 703-672-0038.

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