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Friday, December 2, 2016

Planning Commission endorses relocation of Bailey's Crossroads homeless shelter

The site for relocated Bailey's Crossroads Community Shelter on Seminary Road. 
The Fairfax County Planning Commission agreed Dec. 1 to endorse plans to relocate and expand the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter. The next step is a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 24.

The shelter would be relocated from its current site on 3525 Moncure Avenue to a site purchased by the county at 5914 Seminary Road less than a quarter of a mile away

The red box on the left is the current shelter; the red box on the right shows the new location on Seminary Road, near the intersection of Columbia Pike and Route 7. 
According to the county, the shelter needs to be replaced because it is outdated and doesn’t comply with accessibility standards for the disabled and needs to be relocated to encourage private redevelopment on its current site. 

The allow the project to go forward, the BoS has to approve an amendment to the county’s Comprehensive Plan to increase the FAR (floor area ratio) on the Seminary Road site from .50 to .70. That would permit higher density than currently allowed.
  
During the Planning Commission hearing, county staff said the new shelter would be approximately 22,000 square feet, not 15,000 as described in the Department of Planning and Zoning staff report.

The new shelter would have 50 beds for the homeless – the same as the current facility – but would also have 15 supportive housing units for people transitioning from homelessness to independent living.

The commissioners had questions about the location of nearby bus stops, whether they are accessible via sidewalks, and the impact of a proposed extension of Seminary Road, but no one raised any serious objections.  

None of the owners of businesses on Seminary Road and Center Lane who expressed concerns about the shelter at the Mason District Land Use Committee meeting Nov. 23 spoke at the Planning Commission hearing. The MDLUC recommended approval of the shelter relocation.

Joseph Gargiulo Jr., a regional vice president of Stuart Dean Co., an architectural restoration company, told the Planning Commission he is interested in hiring shelter clients at his business, which is next to the new shelter site on Seminary Road.  

“The shelter is positive for the neighborhood,” he said. “We’re looking for employees. If they could walk there, it would be a true asset for us.”

Longtime volunteers and advocates for the homeless Don and Mary Lee Di Spirito of Annandale urged the commissioners to support the project and offered a historical perspective.

Soon after they moved to the area some 40 years ago, a homeless man who had been living in a dumpster froze to death, Mary Lee recalled. That spurred a group of residents to establish a “roving shelter,” in which churches opened their doors to let homeless people spend the night. Eventually, they worked with the county to get the Bailey’s Crossroads shelter built.

The shelter does more than provide a safe, warm place to spend the night, she said. It provides counseling and other services, and serves as a staging area for a Meals on Wheels program for those who can’t fend for themselves.  

Jeff Lisanick, who went from being homeless himself to an advocate for the homeless and chair of the Fairfax County Consumer Advisory Council, said the services he received at the Eleanor Kennedy shelter near Ft. Belvoir “gave me the kind of stability I needed to get back on my feet.”

People think of the homeless as “poor, destitute, and broken,” said Marina McDowell of Northern Virginia Family Services, which operates the Bailey’s Crossroads shelter. But in many cases, they are people who “lost one or two paychecks.”

“The peer-to-peer counseling provided at the shelter is really important,” McDowell said. When clients talk to people who have been homeless and moved on, “that’s really important to their outcomes.” 

3 comments:

  1. "Joseph Gargiulo Jr., a regional vice president of Stuart Dean Co., an architectural restoration company, told the Planning Commission he is interested in hiring shelter clients at his business, which is next to the new shelter site on Seminary Road.

    “The shelter is positive for the neighborhood,” he said. “We’re looking for employees. If they could walk there, it would be a true asset for us.”

    Kudos. The kind of man who makes Mason District, and America, great.

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    1. This is exactly what we need in Baileys and the County should be doing more to create this area for artisans, artists and galleries. It could be the Torpedo Factory of Fairfax, but NOOOO they rather have a social services mecca which will only drive residents away instead spurring new mixed use development. The you Mr. Gargiulo for your spirit, good will and inspiring deeds. Maybe you should run for Mason Supervisor.

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    2. Correction, I meant to say thank you to Mr Gargiulo not "The you." Damn spell check is taking over the world like Trump.

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