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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

County officials respond to concerns about Lincolnia homeless shelter

The field where the Bailey's Crossroads Community Shelter will be temporarily located. The Charleston Square community is the rear, and the Lincolnia Senior Center is to the right.
Fairfax County officials attempted to reassure Lincolnia residents at a community meeting April 11 that a temporary homeless shelter planned for their community will have effective security measures and services for clients and that it will indeed be temporary.

Many residents, however, at the well-attended and at times raucous meeting at Peace Lutheran Church on Lincolnia Road, remain unconvinced. Concerns were raised about crime, safety, property values, and why the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter needs to be relocated.

Stonegate at Landmark
A land swap approved by the Board of Supervisors in February to facilitate redevelopment of the Southeast Quadrant property on Columbia Pike calls for the Bailey’s shelter to vacate its building on Moncure Avenue to make way for a 375-unit apartment building to be developed by AvalonBay.

County officials announced on March 29 that the shelter would be temporarily moved to a “pre-manufactured” modular structure on a field behind the Lincolnia Senior Center at 4710 N. Chambliss St., Alexandria. That did not sit well with residents of two nearby townhouse communities – Stonegate at Landmark and Charleston Square – who launched a “Stop the Shelter” campaign.

Mason Supervisor Penny Gross defended the shelter relocation plan, saying homeless shelters are a key part of the county’s 10-year plan to end homelessness adopted in 2008. “We all need a place for comfort and safety, a place to call home,” she told the crowd of about 175 at the April 11 meeting.

“We have to try to make the best decisions we can to accommodate the needs of our community,” Gross said. “This was the location that worked the best as a temporary location.”

The county had looked at about 20 other sites over the past few months, said Rob Stalzer, deputy county executive for planning and development. “None are perfect, including this one. No one is going to volunteer to have a homeless shelter next door. We understand that.”

The county’s criteria include proximity to transit and other county services and accessibility to employment, Stalzer said.

Charleston Square
The Planning Commission is expected to hold a public hearing on the shelter relocation in May, although a date hasn’t been set yet. After that the plan will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors. 

Gross said staff will pull together a Q&A document based on the questions and comments at the meeting and will post it online before the Mason District Land Use Committee (MDLUC) discusses the shelter at its April 26 meeting.

The 6,000-square foot building will provide overnight accommodations for 50 people – 36 men and 14 women. If approved by the BoS, construction would start next fall and the shelter would open in spring 2017.

Like the existing Bailey’s shelter, the temporary facility would provide case management to clients with the ultimate goal of finding permanent housing and helping them become self-sufficient, said Dean Klein, director of the county’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness.

Shelter staff help clients access employment services, healthcare, and other services, Klein said. A significant number are over age 50, and many have substance abuse issues, mental health needs, or both. The average stay in the shelter is 47 days.

Clients are required to leave the shelter by 9:30 a.m. every day and can return at 4:30 p.m., he said. During the day, they are supposed to search for jobs, go to medical appointments, or take workforce training classes. The curfew is 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 on weekends.

According to Klein, an advisory committee will be created with community leaders and stakeholders.

Security concerns

Residents raised lots of concerns about safety, including children walking to school bus stops and  playing outside; homeless people begging on the streets, congregating around the shelter, and trespassing in their neighborhood; pedestrian accidents as homeless people walk to the Plaza at Landmark shopping center; and the proximity of Total Wine.

County officials outlined some of the security features for the shelter: a fence around the building, controlled access via a card reader, a landscape buffer, security cameras, staff patrols of the perimeter every 30 minutes, and the use of breathalyzers to screen clients.

The county has authorized an independent security assessment, Stalzer said, and the results will be available before the MDLUC meeting.

In response to fears about crime, Capt. Christian Quinn, commander of the Mason Police District, acknowledged, “the existing shelter does have crime. I’m not going to sugarcoat that for you.” Most crimes are fights or assaults, with alcohol as the underlying issue, he said.

Noting that drug addicts and people with mental health issues will be hanging around people’s homes, a resident of Stonegate said, “your plans for security are around the facility, not my house. I cannot defend myself. How are you going to help me?”

Quinn promised to have regular patrols in the area and shift personnel around but there are no plans for more officers. The fence will be a physical barrier, so the homeless won’t be trespassing through the neighborhood, he said.

If a homeless person shows up at the shelter drunk, “we do not discharge them into the community,” said a representative of Northern Virginia Family Services, the nonprofit organization that operates the Bailey’s shelter. The police are called, and the person is allowed to stay on a sofa overnight.

Several people complained about the wisdom of locating a homeless shelter in the backyard of a senior facility that serves a vulnerable population. One resident worried about homeless people loitering – or even getting inside – the senior center during the day. The Lincolnia senior complex has a day center, classes and social activities, assisted living units, and independent living units.

The meeting facilitator, Elsa Lueck of the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services, the agency that oversees senior centers, said, “we will work on site there to best ensure program integrity and safety of clients at the senior center.”

The doors are unlocked at the senior center, someone else said. “They will have to be on lock down. Seniors won’t be able to sit in the sun on a spring day.” Another resident said the seniors, as well as the community, use the field for outdoor recreation. “It sounds like you have good security for people coming into the shelter, but the inebriated will be outside.”

A permanent site

The shelter would remain in Lincolnia for four to five years. By spring 2021, “the temporary structures will be removed, and the field will be returned to its existing condition,” said Joan Beacham of the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.

Noting how difficult it was at find a temporary site, a resident expressed doubts that the county will be able to find a permanent location.

“We are aggressively looking for a permanent site for the shelter,” Klein said. “We recognize how challenging that is.” The Lincolnia site is not large enough to be a permanent solution, Stalzer added, “so we know going in this can only be a temporary site.”

The Lincolnia Senior Center
“This is not well-thought-out,” said a resident, who surveyed businesses at Landmark Plaza and found they won’t hire the homeless. “You’re doing a disservice to the homeless by putting them here,” she said.

“This is not an issue about whether or not to serve the homeless,” said Chad Weinberg, a member of the Stonegate HOA board. “This is about inappropriate land use. This shelter does not belong in this location.”

Another Stonegate resident complained about the lack of transparency, noting residents weren’t informed early on. “You’re asking us to trust all of you. What about the care and thought about our families and our homes?”

Gross said her office notified community and HOA leaders by email. “I realize it’s not as much as you would have liked; I don’t have everyone’s emails,” she said. “You don’t seem to have problems giving us notification about taxes,” someone else complained.

A resident of Lincolnia Hills questioned why the Bailey’s shelter has to move. Stalzer spoke about the opportunity for redevelopment in Bailey’s Crossroads.

Several people urged the county to back out of the land swap deal until it finds a permanent site for the shelter. “Could the Bailey’s shelter continue to operate if the land swap is not approved?” a resident asked.
“Yes,” said Gross, “and the entire quadrant along that part of Bailey’s Cross would remain undeveloped and crappy.”

Someone else asked, “why not put the shelter in McLean, Centreville, or Fairfax Station? Mason gets a disproportionate share of special needs facilities. It’s not fair to dump it all on Mason District.”

“We are committed to having the homeless shelter in Mason District,” Gross responded. “We are not moving this to Great Falls. The shelter needs to remain in Mason District because that is where the population is.”

Fairfax County is abandoning the homeless, charged Stonegate resident Mark Fraser. By relocating the Bailey’s shelter, “you are creating a permanent underclass wandering from place to place. This is compete disgrace.”

Several people who spoke at the meeting said they understand the needs of the community to help the homeless and had volunteered at the shelter.

Pastor Sarah Scherschligt of Peace Lutheran Church urged compassion. “Our values are to respond to the needs of our neighbors, including the homeless,” she said. “We believe all people are loved and worthy of love.”

Noting that a lot of the questions indicate “homeless people are thieves and murderers,” Rev. Kathleen Moore of First Christian Church in Seven Corners, said, “I hope and pray people can be a little open minded. People don’t want to be homeless and are not horrible people. They are human beings.”

Moore’s church operates a day shelter that serves meals to the homeless and had offered its property as a temporary site for the shelter, but that deal fell through and also had been opposed by local residents.

“Everyone is doing our best here. No one wants a homeless shelter next door and no one wants homelessness and poverty,” a resident said. “Some assumptions being made we need to tear apart.”

In response to the many people who spoke about their compassion for the homeless before describing their concerns, Gross said, “you care about the homeless as long as they’re not in your backyard.”

Thanks to Jon Clark for recording the meeting. 


  1. Over 150 stakeholders attended and were given an opportunity to speak. Their concerns about safety and the welfare of the seniors, of children, and of the homeless themselves were well-founded. An informal poll was conducted during the meeting and the proposed relocation was defeated unanimously.

  2. Bailey's is already a dump, why can't we keep them there instead of my neighborhood. Rest of Mason District shouldn't be bothered with these people.

    i care about homeless, believe me. Just keep them somewhere else.

  3. Did Mark Fraser miss the part about the shelter relocating? If they close the Baileys location and open one in Lincolnia the people won't be wandering from place to place because there will be no second place for the homeless to go.

  4. I'm sure AvalonBay is going to benefit from the development it builds on the landswap, and who knows what tax breaks or incentives they got....why didn't the county require AvalonBay to include a homeless shelter in their development?

  5. Just a thought, we have to move the shelter so Avalon Bay can build apartments. And we're using transportation funding to make road improvements that will directly connect Bailey's to Skyline.
    However, we're going to spend an outrageous amount of money to purchase land and an obsolete office building that will need to be demolished so we can spend more money to build a brand new office bldg. in an area that has how many empty or underutilized office bldgs.
    Why not put the Pre-Fab bldg. for the homeless in the SE Quadrant development? Because the Social Services center is being conveniently located for the needy residents of Culmore and Skyline.

    1. More GROSS mismanagement. Lets build more social service buildings with tax payer dollars so Penny can have her palace and keep all the poor continuously streaming in here on Mason District's back. I hardly think a bunch of Apts and a social services building is revitalization.

  6. Why doesn't this county follow well-researched best practices? Greater Washington is the homeland of associations that dedicate millions to quality research.

    The American Planning Assn. has best practices for locating homeless shelters. They do not recommend placing shelters within 2500 feet of schools, daycare and senior centers, or other shelters.

    Locating a homeless shelter behind the Lincolnia Senior Center is an abysmal choice as was the idea of putting it in the parking lot of First Christian Church. FCC is within 2500 ft. of 2 daycare centers, 2 schools and the abused women and children's shelter.

    The APA does not recommend placing a shelter adjacent to homeowner properties, either.

    Residents have offered better solutions but they are falling on the deaf ears of Supervisor Gross and county employees. There are better locations for temporary and permanent locations readily available. Bailey's Crossroads has a 47% commercial vacancy rate. Annandale has a 17.5% vacancy rate. Check out the opportunities. They are hidden in plain sight.

  7. It was clear from the more than 150 meeting attendees that the homeless shelter must not go behind the Lincolnia Senior Center. Penny is putting it there because the county owns the property and they can do it by-right with just a Planning Commission hearing, which is useless because they will have already decided what they will vote for. The residents must continue to bombard the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commissioners to tell them for all the the reasons they gave at the meeting--it's a terrible idea. Send them the photograph that's in this blog's article, it says it all. Do not let Penny bully the residents into something they adamantly oppose. The development at the Southeast Quadrant will be only apartments. Residents were promised mixed use but that's not happening.

  8. The Fairfax County way-- move the vulnerable and powerless homeless with alcohol abuse problems to a site across the street from Total Wine and a Virginia ABC liquor store so developers can make a buck. The principals of the major developers, Landmark Atlantic and 5827 Columbia Pike Associates LLC will make millions from this deal-- they are very large contributors to Penny Gross' and Sharon Bulova's campaigns according to VPAP.

    How can it possibly make sense to move a 50 bed shelter, in a permanent building and in operation for over 30 years to temporary structures (construction trailers)in a new location over 3 miles away, in a neighborhood lacking employment and social services for the homeless center clients? It only makes sense if you follow the money.......

    1. 7 on Your Side did a story on this land deal:

    2. Here's the thing. I would welcome a sweetheart land deal here and there if it got us something that we wanted. But a deal like this to ram Penny's Palace down our collective throats - no thanks. If it was a sweetheart deal to facilitate the sale of the entire SEQ to Avalon Bay - I'd be all for it.

  9. There are vacant properties in the industrial zone at the south end of Mason District that are already owned by the County and fit all of the needs for this homeless shelter relocation (transportation, isolation from residential areas, close to jobs (industrial jobs!), etc). They are far, far better than the proposed site in Lincolnia. The proposed Lincolnia site is a very bad site for a homeless shelter. Come on, FFX BOS, you can do better than this!

  10. "Waah, my kids might have to see homeless people!"

    I'm so sick of the NIMBY BS.

    1. Please, this is not about protecting kids from seeing homeless people. Please re-read the article. Many of the people at the meeting who expressed deep, sincere concern about the negative effects of this proposed shelter on their families already serve at homeless shelters along with their kids. Their kids already know about the homeless in a close and personal way. The concern is about the vagrancy that surrounds homeless shelters, and they don't want strange men hanging out for no apparent good reason in the spaces where their children now play. Furthermore, they don't want the crime which inevitably comes with these shelters to invade their neighborhoods and the places they shop and recreate. Its exactly because so many people in these communities have experience with the homeless that they know the blight that these shelters bring.

    2. Constructive remarks, please. Bet you don't live next door or have a relative in the senior center.

    3. What's wrong with leaving the shelter where it is now (and has been for over 30 years.)?

    4. Send in your address-- maybe the Fairfax BOS will want to relocate the shelter to YOUR backyard. They claim to be looking for alternatives.

    5. Maybe 30 years is long time for one location. That other locations should help to house homeless for a change. Compared to 30 years, a 5 year stint aint too bad.

      And if nothing is wrong with the current location than nothing is wrong with Lincolnia. On the other hand, the "concerns" with the Lincolnia location would apply as well for the current location.

    6. I'm voting for putting it in Penny's backyard. She's got .62 acres and surely knows someone who can approve the variance as easily as they do all over Mason to create boarding houses.

    7. You don't see this in Fairfax, Great Falls, McLean, or any other area but Mason...home of the Developer's Muse - One Cent Gross.

    8. Says Anonymous 4/14/16 10:42-- which developer do you work for? Maybe you are John Thillmann himself!

  11. Once again, FFX County rolls over to sweeten a land deal for someone and takes a dump on the existing residents of the county. If anyone has any illusions that this county's government is operating on behalf of its residents and looking out for their interests, they are mistaken. They keep raising our taxes and giving the store away to developers.

  12. Above the Noise4/14/16, 3:55 PM


    You all are a bunch of whiners. PLEASE move to the outer suburbs if you can't deal with non-whites and non-affluents.

    1. Really? What do non-whites and non-affluents have to do with it? Look at the facts, please.

    2. Obviously, Above the Noise, you have never been to Lincolnia.

      Per the 2010 Census, Lincolnia's population is:
      48% White
      21% Black
      15% Asian
      12% "Other"
      4% "Two or More"
      <1% American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander

      According to Wikipedia, "Lincolnia is the most diverse area in Fairfax County."

    3. Who signs you paycheck-- AvalonBay of Landmark Atlantic?

    4. You are the one who is the hater around here calling people names who are concerned about their and their families safety. You should be ashamed of your self for trying to make others feel as if they are racist or as you say "NIMBY". My guess you do not have children of your own or if you do they no longer live at home.

  13. Penny Gross described the area at Bailey's as looking "crappy". But she doesn't mind if our area will now look crappy. This is a very bad idea all the way around. If my mother was in that assisted living facility I would take her out.

    1. Gross said, “you care about the homeless as long as they’re not in your backyard.” Lovely response, or as Queen Marie said in the 1700's "Let them eat cake"

    2. You get what was voted for.

    3. But, one commenter actually said those exact words.. "I care about the homeless just not in my backyard". Look above. These comments on here are a little off the rocker. There have been direct assumptions that all homeless people are addicts, rapists and thieves. (Sounds like Trump and the Mexicans). This is not American thinking- innocent until proven guilty? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? We know nothing of these exact people who would be in the shelter. Hell, it could be any of us- or all of us if this next presidency goes wonky. An article on who are the homeless actually tells us many of them lost everything in the housing crisis. Many are there because they lost everything in a health crisis. I repeat- it could be any of us. As I said in another post- I already find drug paraphernalia in my backyard... Everything everyone is scared of is already here. Remember the babysitter who had a man walk into the house? That was on chambliss. The bong I found was on lincolnia. The needles on chambliss. A homeless shelter will be a great scapegoat but kids, the problems are already here whether you like it or not.

    4. Both your information and your logic are faulty, Anonymous 8:47 AM. No one actually said "I care about the homeless just not in my backyard." The closest quote to that was attributed to Supervisor Penny Gross, who was trying to put words in peoples' mouths. I was at the April 11 meeting, and I will testify that I heard NO ONE claim that all homeless people are criminals. Rather, many people cited reliable research--look to the American Planning Association and the National Alliance to End Homelessness--that around half of the homeless population reports some form of mental illness, around 25% have some form of severe mental illness, and substance abuse among the homeless is widespread. Crime statistics for areas around homeless shelters are often much worse than for other areas. For example, in the last 12 months, there were 23 police calls for assaults near the current site of the Bailey's Crossroads Community Shelter. That's nearly two assaults per month. Nowhere near that level of crime is now occurring at the proposed site in Lincolnia. We can expect that crime will rise dramatically if the shelter is built there.

      Yes, Lincolnia has some challenges. Crime can happen anywhere in the world. I believe there is no particular crime problem in Lincolnia, but even if there is, putting the shelter there will only make things worse. You aren't advocating that the County make things worse, are you? Are you saying that the County should draw homeless people--a vulnerable group if there ever was one--into an area already filled with crime? Do you see that your logic doesn't make sense?

  14. It's pretty clear that relocating the shelter was a condition that Avalon Bay required in order to sign. So they can not want the homeless in THEIR backyard, but it's not ok for us to think that way.

  15. A few more valid items as well:

    1) There is NO complete & dedicated sidewalk network to the proposed location In Lincolnia, nor is there a great bus network or many bus stops near-by.. ( compared to new sidewalks & multiple bus stops etc. at & near the current Bailey’s site).

    2) It is smart for us & the County to know where the residents go every day ( for job/ life skills training & medical care etc) -- during the daytime hours. As I would suspect that this location is not as convenient as the current site and creates more transportation issues for the residents than it solves..

    3) Unless a permanent location is identified up front ( now), I would not advise moving it anywhere as this Lincolnia site will become a de-facto permanent site.

    4) The largest liquor store within miles ( Total Wine) is not an ideal neighbor for this use ( literally across the street).

    5) I do agree that the Senior Day Care & Senior Resident population is not an ideal mix with a new & active homeless shelter—just not a good match as far as age, awareness & vigilance of one’s surroundings , orientation & security.

    What if the County investigates these sites or have they ? For instance the entire area around or near the current Bailey’s Shelter site :

    1) near the U-Store Self Storage
    Falls Church, VA
    5829 Seminary Rd. – Center Street –Scoville area
    Falls Church, VA 22041


    2) The Moose Lodge… 5710 Scoville St, Falls Church, VA 22041--( lots of Land & backs to commercial)

    Or 3) 5815 Seminary Rd, Falls Church, VA 22041 (this site was actually a DMV many years ago).

    Or 4) A series of vacant lots in the 6500 Block of Church St ( one block Off Columbia Pike—directly behind the German Gourmet & literally 1 block from the current Shelter)

    1. That's brilliant. What you are saying is we should keep the homeless in commercial area and away from society at large. Out of sight is out of mind.

      Maybe we can fence them in with barbed wire in sort of an encampment to keep them concentrated into one area. It worked with Japenese American during WW2.

    2. Other community have done this, Euguene, OR, Austin, TX, Seattle, WA. The homeless really enjoy it and they can earn to live in a little home. The homeless feel safer as well since you can not just walk into the area that you have to check in and there is rules. You are the one who is not thinking out of the box and would rather just insult people. The homeless should have an area in the industrial area where there is a shelter, and a back area that can slowly be turned into a village of tiny homes. The homeless can have their own "board" where they can vote on rules for the village and like an HOA have a way to enforce the rules. Stop making it about what you think and think what others may want.

    3. Do you even hear your paternalistic BS?

  16. Please stop with the NIMBY and "homeless hater" bomb throwing. The reason for moving the shelter from the place where it has been for the last 30 years to a spot that lacks the infrastructure to support it is so that a real estate deal pays off for the largest contributors to Penny Gross' and Sharon Bulova's political campaigns:

    Follow the money......

    1. Amen to, there's nothing wrong with having concerns about the safety and security of hearth and home.

    2. I guess people will be posting link to the same route 7 piece from wjla again and again for a while.

    3. Anonymous 4/16/16 5:37 PM: I guess you didn't follow the link and look at the item-- Had you done that you would have seen that it has nothing to do with "route 7". The "7" in the report refers to the $7 million thyat the Fairfax BoS authorized to pay for a parcel appraised at $3.8 million, all to make a deal work with the developers who had contributed millions to their political campaigns.

    4. I meant "channel 7" and I saw the piece.

      You are some kind of bloodhound, huh. You uncovered influence of money on politics. WOW. Were also the one who alerted channel 7 about this unprecedented bombshell in the first place?

  17. Is Brookside Drive interested in this? Only a few of us went to the meeting. Probably didn't know about it. Seems to me you need all the support you can get.

  18. Addition to my previous comment. That would be Brookside Drive and Vale Court.

  19. Why hasn't someone gotten back to 7 on Your Side about recent activity? Seems like a logical thing to do.

  20. So what is the next step to defeat the project? Do the organizers of the shelter opposition have a plan? Also would like to say that snide remarks from people don't accomplish anything, pro or con.

  21. No answers?

  22. OK. Where do we go from here? Who can afford to sell their house or change schools? Construdtive remarks, please.

  23. Don't know what nest step is. Informaton please.

    1. Suggest you go to, or contact the organizer at stopthe

    2. Anonymous 4/18/16 2:26 PM: So you are OK with political corruption ("pay-to-play") like this? Many of us are not. I hope you don't vote.

    3. Oh I am not okay with it. It is par for the course however and apparently not even illegal (Citizen United). I call it what it is-legalized bribery. If it was up to me, pols would get a stipend to campaign and no other money would be allowed.

      What I find almost laughable is that campaign financing is such a big deal here all the sudden because of opposition to this project, especially seemingly to this one person who keeps harping on it. I am sure the same person or people are similarly aghast and lobbying vociferously against all other, many much bigger and more nefarious, campaign financing/bribery cases. I wish people would just say their real reasons for opposing this project where in fact the real question of the true land value may actually not even be in question.

      “...The assessed value of any property is typically below what that property may be worth in the market,” Bulova continues. The county hired two private certified appraisers who conducted four appraisals during 2014 and 2015. Those appraisals ranged from $5.75 million to $7 million, with an average of $6.14 million. Another appraisal conducted for the property owner came in at $9.2 million... “

      Sounds like fair market value to me. And I like to listen to both sides of the story even if the other side is this big evil government trying to change the beauty that is the Southeast Quadrant.

  24. Next meeting in regards to the shelter relocation will be on April 26, however there are a couple of additional dates to share.
    Monday, April 18, 7:30 pm - a rally/planning/update meeting at Lincolnia United Methodist Church, 6335 Little River Turnpike. There will be flyers and signs for you to take to your neighborhoods.

    Tuesday, April 19, 7:30 pm - a meeting at the Mason District Governmental Center for the Bailey's Crossroads Revitalization Corporation. This is a civic organization of folks in and around Bailey's Crossroads. However, on the agenda there is a presentation/discussion about the 'South East Quad Land Swap.' This swap is the County decision that requires the relocation of the Bailey's shelter.

  25. Thank you. Don't know where anonymous reply 4/19/16 7:33 AM got the impression I was for the shelter. I am not for it, just wanted more information.

  26. CANCELLED: April 26, 7:30 p.m., Mason District Land Use Advisory Committee, Mason District Government Center, 6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale. It is anticipated that the application will be scheduled to present to the Mason District Land Use Committee during their May 24th scheduled meeting at 7:30 p.m.

  27. Meeting tonight regarding the 'South East Quad Land Swap'. Tuesday, April 19, 7:30pm a meeting of the Bailey's Crossroads Revitalization Corporation, a civic organization of residents in and around Bailey's Crossroads. It will be held at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA. On the agenda there is a presentation/discussion about the 'South East Quad Land Swap'.