Drummond for Council

Drummond for Council

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Future of Kitty Pozer Park/George Mason Square

Tomorrow night (January 10, 7 p.m., City Hall) the City Council will be holding a public outreach meeting and later a work session on the future of the property known as George Mason Square and Kitty Pozer Garden/Pozer Park (between Old Lee Highway and University/by Old Town Hall). More information about the outreach meeting and work session, including documents and renderings can be found here. Note that there are multiple concept renderings in addition to background information.

The reason for this meeting is that the Council has to make a decision soon about how to dispense with $2.4 million in funds that remain from the bond sales that supported construction of the Fairfax City Regional Library.

From the City website:

The City of Fairfax and Fairfax County entered into an agreement in August 2005 to finance, design and construct a new regional library (library) in the City's downtown area through the sale of bonds. Upon completion of construction in January 2009, $2.39M remained unspent. City and County staff, and legal counsel have reviewed the agreement and have determined the unspent available funds of $2,397,587 should be allotted to the City.

Though the unspent funds are available for City use, the bond financing documents and federal tax laws also set restrictions on the use of the unspent bond funds. See June 6, 2011 memo (PDF Format) for more information on bond restrictions. City staff has prepared several concepts for the area known as George Mason Square and Pozer Park that are achievable with the remaining $2.39M plus an additional $400,000 in grant money.

Late last summer the Council directed staff to look at ways we could expand the Kitty Pozer property and redevelop George Mason Square. As part of that, we also directed staff to look into options for what to do with the property formerly known as the "Weight Watchers" building, which is now a parking lot right next to Old Town Hall on University Drive. Many will recall that the City paid $2.75 million for the property as part of the City's open space initiative.

Since last summer, we have had several work sessions and and a public outreach meeting to get feedback from the community on how to best proceed. We have received many good ideas, concepts and comments from a variety of interests. I find it refreshing that we have so much engagement on this because this block of property in Old Town is truly a gem and we need to take great care in listening to - and incorporating - people's opinions before rendering a final decision.

Personally I have had many discussions with people in the community, listening to their ideas about what to do with the property. I have also spent time researching the options, the history of the space and reading concerned residents and business owners emails and letters. And over the weekend I walked the property, carrying with me the various drawings I've received, all while trying to visualize the many approaches we could take.

This is an important decision the Council must make. And it's one that I will not take lightly. I am looking forward to tomorrow night's public outreach meeting where I am sure we will hear more ideas and opinions. That to me is a good thing as I believe the decision concerning the future use of this property needs to be representative of our community's collective input.

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Dan, Family and Friends in the 2013 Fourth of July Parade

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