Dear West Springfield Neighbor / Friend,
You know we’re in a bad way (out there flapping as we used to say in the Airborne Infantry) when the Chairman of County’s Board of Supervisors starts his pandemic update with a warning that drinking bleach or other cleaning products will not kill the corona virus inside your body. Really? And while we are at it - don’t eat Tide pods and don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Apparently we have to be told such since the media has been wall-to-wall coverage. OK – let’s include a few more pearls of wisdom many of us learned along the way like 1) don’t piss into the wind and 2) don’t eat the yellow snow. Reckon with all that being said, we are all now equipped well enough to move about the country; minus mom’s advice about clean underwear and Sister Agnes’ demands that we leave room for the Holy Spirit when dancing with the opposite sex.
We ought to build a whole book or at least a couple paragraphs with the one-liner directives we heard often from our parents, from our drill sergeants and now from the media who think it necessary to take over for mom. I have plenty; you? Also consider those you lay upon your kids. Anybody want to author this type literary masterpiece?
I listened to the South Dakota Governor the other day who said they approached the virus as individual responsibilities, not governmental control. She claimed to have put out enough information for folks to make informed decisions for themselves, their family and anyone they may contact. SD did not close businesses or access to government services. Their strategy seemingly worked as well as other states who did impose restrictions on its citizenry. Yes, I and undoubtedly she know that the population density is a bit less in SD than in other places.
Ah – those who spend more time looking into the rear-view mirror for gotchas than looking forward through the windshield will have a hay day assessing the different responses to this virus.
Community Involvement – Here’s a statement of the obvious - one or two voices will not sway the intent of our elected or appointed officials. Either we speak up in our own defense or we will suffer the consequences of that silence. Did you respond about the looming Real Estate Property Tax increase? If not prepare to come out of pocket. What about the proposal to allow accessory dwelling units in our village homes or the proposal concerning home-based businesses? If not, know ye that curbside parking will be even harder to find. Reminder that curbside parking is for all, not just those in the home behind the curb. County did their job by giving us the opportunity and avenue to voice our support or lack of support; rest is up to us and then back to county to listen to us.
For those along Rolling Road - are you prepared for VDOT’s property acquisition teams? We only had three out of the 57 homes at the free teleconference with an eminent domain lawyer (Mike Coughlin, 202/495-2813) Tuesday evening. Here’s a couple bullets from Mr. Coughlin discussed in that zoom conference; call him, not me if you have additional questions.
- Review the plan to widen Rolling Road, especially as it applies to your property. Find it on VDOT’s website.
- If / when contacted by an Appraiser, respond – don’t ignore.
- Will VDOT make their best offer in the first one? Probably not. But, remember that VDOT does not have to have a signed deal with you to continue the project on your property.
- Negotiate to have trees, shrubs, sheds, playground equipment and such moved. Determine now the cost of replacing tress, bushes, gardens, lawns or whatever else needed to return your property to your current standards.
- The standard fee for eminent domain legal representation is 1/3 of the difference in what the lawyers get for you and what VDOT first offered. Example - VDOT offered you $10 – Mike Coughlin negotiates for it to be $22. His fee will be $4.00. Again – that is pretty much standard with all legal firms.
- VDOT will have to compensate you even if they only need an easement instead of acquiring part of your plat.
- Expect a letter from Mr Coughlin, but he welcomes your call. We also had Blankenship & Keith mentioned in previous enews who also specialize in eminent domain cases.
- Is there more power in numbers? Yes, Mike claims that the more he represents, the more likely VDOT will negotiate with him for homeowner benefit.
Thanks to Morgan Perez (Rolling Road) for setting up this meeting in conjunction with Mr. Coughlin.
Donations Needed - Food, hygiene products and household cleaners drive to collect such for families and individuals facing hardship. Collection boxes are being placed at all 8 Fairfax County District Police stations. The items will be picked up and distributed to local food pantries near the stations. We know that food pantries were in desperate need before the virus, but are now even more in need.
Live Oak's Mother's Day Delivery Plan – from Live Oak Restaurant owner/operator and village neighbor Jeremy Barber:
“We are going to sell Mother's Day Brunch Baskets consisting of a bottle of Prosecco and Orange Juice, Deviled Eggs, Fruit, French Toast Casserole (with baking instructions) Benton's Tennessee Bacon (raw), Scrambled Farm Egg and Potato Soufflé (with baking instructions). Also, as a gift to the Mom's, we teamed up with a local business and friend of ours, Stretch Moves, and included in the brunch basket is a "Self-Care Program" (a $90 value) that includes a Stress reducer program, Improve Your Sleep program, and Feel Good Flow Program. The brunch basket price is $115 and feeds 4-6 people or $100 if you do not want to include the Prosecco. We will accommodate those of us with just two people in the house with a package for 2 that will cost $50.00.
You can order through our website, www.liveoakdelray.com. As mentioned I am happy to deliver to the "hood" (the Village plus those from neighboring subdivisions who receive the WSV enews) as a huge thank you for your support during these crazy times. I will deliver the Saturday prior to Mother's Day. The cut off for orders will be Wednesday, 6 May. This will be available for delivery the Saturday (9 May) prior to Mother's Day. You can opt to pick up at Live Oak Restaurant, 1603 Commonwealth Ave, Alexandria, VA 22301. Again, Mother’s Day orders will need to be placed no later than Wednesday, 6 May.”
RE Property Assessments – I challenged the increase in my assessment (11.2% for the building and 2.4% for the land) resulting in an increase in assessed value of $38,130.00. The additional tax even without the increase in tax levy will be $438.30 which is more than 2X the advertised average. The first response from County’s Department of Taxation was a tutorial to help me understand “average” as though my MBA studies failed to cover that. And then a second response put the blame on residential sales within our property assessment neighborhood that can be viewed on DTA’s website. After searching for your property, there is a link on the right-hand side of the page titled "Neighborhood Sales." Assessments are as of 1/1/2020, considering market sales data that took place during 2019.
Village Owned / Operated Companies – Our Webmaster tries to identify village owned/operated companies when they are recommended by another village resident. Please help him identify them when you submit your recommendation.
What better way to motivate a contractor than to offer him/her free advertising in our village news and on our website. I tell a contractor bidding on a job at my home that I will arrange free ads for his/her company if he/she does a good job in terms of price, cleanliness, quality of workmanship and overall wife’s satisfaction for the work. Most will tell you that word-of-mouth ads are the best.
Heads up – we now will dump all listings for our children about every 6 months, but very happy to put new listings back based on their request or that of their parent. And we will dump all contractor recommendations every year or every other year, but happy to add them back based on your request.
Random Acts of Kindness – I believe it was our Treasurer, Liz Greene who suggested a few years ago that we mention those who randomly help others or who do good things for others without the presumption of pay. These people are often unknown to the recipient of such favor, but what a grand lesson to teach our children. Here’s an example submitted by Karen Marchant (SVD):
“On my doorstep this morning, I discovered a beautifully decorated block of wood that simply reads, “Be Happy” (I know that another neighbor had written to you about this same thing happening on his door step a couple of weeks ago.) Curious, I decided to include the rest of Springfield Village Drive on my running route and discovered MANY motivational messages!
Since the placing of these messages is anonymous, I’m HOPE-ing that the creator(s) of these thoughtful "works of heart” will read this and know how much we appreciate them. This sense of a caring community will see us through the crisis.”
COVID-19 Update: (Shamelessly taken from Jeff McKay’s Messenger)
Farmers Markets and Garden Plots
- The Fairfax County Park Authority will reopen garden plots and some seasonal Farmers Markets with conditions that allow for compliance with social distancing and safety guidelines.
- All garden plots reopened yesterday, 29 April.
- Gardeners will be notified of the opening and guidelines via email.
- Gardeners will be expected to comply with all COVID-19 health and social distancing requirements.
- The gradual re-opening of Farmers Markets will begin 9 May 9, in a phased approach for the markets.
- Reston Farmers Market at Lake Anne Shopping Center will open on Sat., May 9, from 8am-12pm.
- Burke Farmers Market will open on Sat., May 16, at Burke VRE Parking Lot from 8am-12pm
- Mount Vernon/McCutcheon Farmers Market will open on Wed., May 13, from 8am-12pm.
- More operational details such as pre-orders, limited contact sales and distribution, and other safety procedures will be announced later this week.
- Farmers market information can be found online.
- All other park amenities currently closed (like visitors centers and restrooms) will remain closed.
El Condado Fairfax Ahora Ofrece Mensajes de Texto de COVID-19 en Español
- Fairfax County now provides COVID-19 text alerts in Spanish.
- To sign up, text FFXCOVIDESP to 888777. // Para inscribirse, textear FFXCOVIDESP a 888777.
- See Fairfax County's Language Portal here.
- The application period for the Fairfax County's Microloan Program is now open through April 30 at midnight.
- This page includes the application and eligibility information. This FAQ includes details on how the applications will be processed and other questions.
- Microloan Flyer: English | Spanish | Korean | Arabic | Vietnamese
- Press Release: Vietnamese | Spanish | Korean| Arabic
Support for Victims of Abuse - The Fairfax County Police Department takes domestic violence, child abuse, and elder abuse very seriously. Abusers may use this crisis to find additional ways to exercise control and power over their victims.
- If anyone at risk or if you know someone at risk of danger, you can call or text 911 or call 703-691-2131 (the non-emergency line).
- For the Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Hotline call: 703-360-7273.
- For the Child Protective Services Hotline call: 703-324-7400.
- For elder abuse, exploitation, or neglect call: 703-324-7450.
- FCPS has created a Parent Resource Center that includes workshops, consultations, and other guidance. You can also call (703-204-3941) and email (email@example.com). They are open M-F 8am-4pm.
- If you are in need of technical support for your student, FCPS has created a guide here.
- For more advice resources go here.
- The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has extended vehicle registrations that expire in March and April by 90 days, and those that expire in May by 60 days. Emissions inspection facilities may still be open, but call your specific facility in advance to confirm.
- If you are required to obtain an Air Check emission inspection to renew your registration in March or April, you also have an additional 90 days. You have an additional 60 days to obtain an Air Check emission inspection if your registration expires in May.
- The Air Check Virginia vehicle emissions inspection program for drivers in Northern Virginia remains operational Please avoid in-person visits and call 703-583-3900 between M-F, 8:15am-5pm for assistance.
- The validity of driver’s licenses and identification cards expiring on or before June 10, 2020 is extended for a maximum of 90 days, not to exceed July 31, 2020.
Resources for Distance Learning
- The Smithsonian Learning Lab is providing resources, training, and support to assist caregivers, teachers, and students.
- They have a guide here on how to get started.
- Smithsonian Open Access enables you to download, reuse, and share almost 3 million digital items.
- The Library of Congress's new Student Discovery Sets brings together historical artifacts and documents for teachers and students via iBooks.
- They have also made 51 classic children's books available to read via their website.
- The Fairfax County Park Authority launched the Virtual Exploration Center for kids to stay healthy and engaged while County parks are closed.
Come On Man! Free Day Lilies and some Irises Too – bring your shovel to 8129 Edmonton Court and help yourself. The lilies are pretty in bloom and tend to spread making them good ground cover for unused portions of backyards. They do well in deep pots & planters if you want to control them. The Irises are mixed in with the lilies, but both thrive in the same space. Come get them! Please!
Appliance Repair – one of the most often questions we get is who do we recommend to repair home appliances. We haven’t had a good answer until Tuesday when Gus Hagi had a kitchen appliance repaired by KOAM Home Appliance Service Corp (703/897-5626, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.koamhas.com). Mr. Hagi said that their service rep was punctual, clean and very well skilled at his craft.
Membership Meeting – 7:30 PM, 14 May conducted via Zoom Video Conferencing. More instructions will be included in enews as we get close. iPhones, iPads and similar Androids or home computers can be used. Many of us are familiar with the system, but get ready by downloading Zoom and reading over the associated “how to” literature.
Need Help? Let your immediate neighbors or me know if or when you need help or are close to being out of essential items – we have about 30 folks who have volunteered to help shop for you or pick up meds or whatever they can do as they do for themselves.
I know that some of you may take offense to whatever I say in these reports, but remind you that in October we elect a new Board of Directors to include President, the position I now fill and have for a very long time!
Stay safe and stay healthy!
John Cooley, CAWSV