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Monday, January 14, 2013

Maintaining Annandale streetscape requires continual vigilance

John Marr Drive is part of the Annandale revitalization area.

Ever notice how some of the redevelopment features in central Annandale get a little run down over time? Sometimes the sidewalk pavers come loose, a tree dies, or a car hits one of the “acorn” streetlamps.Things would be a lot worse if it werent for people, like longtime Annandale resident Eileen Garnett. She  constantly keeps an eye on the Annandale redevelopment area to make sure all those streetscape elements are in good condition. If anything is amiss, she reports it to the appropriate agency.

A Fairfax County bond passed by voters in 1998 funded the streetscape improvements along parts of John Marr Drive, Columbia Pike, Little River Turnpike, and Tom Davis Drive and the development of Tollhouse Park at the intersection of Little River and Annandale Road.

The Annandale Central Business District Planning Committee helped design those improvements and monitors the area to make sure they are properly maintained. As part of that effort, Garnett, vice chair of the committee, leads a contingent of government officials on a walk through central Annandale every couple of years to look for things that need fixing. Participants usually include representatives from the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, Office of Community Revitalization, Dominion Power, VDOT, and Mason Superintendent Penny Gross’ office.

An acorn light, decorated for the holidays, in front of Popeye's.
At the most recent “walk-around,” they found a couple of broken lamp posts, missing plant materials, illegal signs, and missing sidewalk bricks, Garnett says. At Tollhouse Park, storms destroyed a couple of trees, and the ground lighting needs repair. A couple of pedestrian signals on Little River Turnpike aren’t working, and the concrete pad around the bus shelter on John Marr in front of Kmart needs to be expanded. The group also noticed erosion next to the wall by Pep Boys.

“It’s important to check every couple of years to to see what need to be done,” Garnett says. “You need to walk the area. It can’t be done by driving through.”

It’s Dominion’s responsibility to make sure the lights are working, “but they won’t know a light is out unless we report it,” Garnett says. “You need some ears and eyes out there to facilitate that.” That also applies to potholes, illegal signs, and other problems. She advises residents who notice a problem to report it. “You can’t expect government officials to be cruising the streets looking for things to fix. Someone needs to call them,” she says.
Missing trees at Tollhouse Park will be replaced.
The county has retained a contractor to handle the landscaping and related maintenance. If there’s enough money in the county budget, plant materials will be replaced and other problems will be fixed, but it won’t happen immediately, she says. It depends on how much money is available in the county budget.

When a new business project is proposed for central Annandale, the Annandale planning committee can require the developer to put in acorn lights, landscaping, and other design elements to create a consistent streetscape.

“As a community, we worked through the process to get the bond passed and get the streetscape implemented. We need to maintain it,” Garnett says.

This illegal sign was removed.


  1. Would it be possible to collect and post the phone numbers here, so they're handy when one comes across an issue that requires reporting.

    And, who is responsible for trash collection at the bus stops now? I've had conflicting information when I've called VDOT. At times I've been told the County took over trash at transportation stops (which is why receptacles are no longer available at most), but at other times the County told me it was still VDOT.

  2. A walk through every couple of years! That why Annandale is in the state it's in. Nobody seems to care anymore. How about having city-wide, "let's clean up Annandale". Let's go to all the Korean restaurants and say "hey, advertise to us too!"

  3. The Mason District Council of community associations promoted a district wide clean up last march - but got no support from the supervisors office.