Centreville Little Rocky RunHomeLifeStylePage 9JANUARY 11-17, 201725 CENTS Newsstand PricePhoto by Bonnie Hobbs/The ConnectionCalendar, Page 8 Classifieds, Page 10Lees Corner teacher TinaPivarnik and Principal BobD’Amato stand beneath thepergola of the school’s outdoorclassroom. Some of the raisedgardens are behind them.A Garden to TeachAnd InspireNews, Page 4Hoping to Improve Local BicyclingNews, Page 3Last Call forLegislative InputNews, Page 11www.ConnectionNewspapers.comCentre View January 11-17, 2017 1

2 Centre View January 11-17,

Centre View Editor Steven Mauren703-778-9415 or [email protected] to Improve Local BicyclingFABB sharesinformation, solicitscommunity input.By Bonnie HobbsCentre ViewTwww.ConnectionNewspapers.comAdam Lind talksto the group.Douglas Stewartlistens to aresident speak.Photos by Bonnie Hobbs/Centre Viewhe Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (FABB) is an all-volunteer group that advocates formore bike lanes, bike trails andneighborhood connections. Formed in 2005,it wants to improve the opportunities forpeople to bike to work, shopping and otherplaces in their everyday lives.“It helps communities be more effectivein advancing their bicycling priorities, suchas getting a new bike lane or trail,” saidFABB Board of Directors member DouglasStewart. “We’ve also been active in gettingbetter, safer bike routes to schools. For example, they might need a trail connectionor bike racks. We also have a bike-light giveaway program, working with churches andother partners.”He and others spoke recently at the SullyDistrict Governmental Center aboutplanned bicycle improvements in that district. Basically, said Stewart, “We’re aboutmaking bicycling safer, more fun and easierin Fairfax County. And often, we need better infrastructure to make that happen.”For example, he said, “We’ve been advocating for a parallel bike trail along I-66 inFairfax County, and it’s now in the plans.We’ve also been working to get a bike-parking ordinance enacted in commercial developments so, when they’re built, they’dhave to include bike-parking areas andracks.”Fairfax County Bicycle Coordinator AdamLind noted that, in 2014, the county approved a 1.4 billion program of bike improvements over six years. Included in theprojects is construction of the Pleasant Forest Trail from Pleasant Valley Road to Pleasant Forest Drive.“We’re also working on a Sully HistoricArea cycle tour [to see where bicyclists encounter problems],” said Lind. “And regarding the Route 29 widening from Centrevilleto Prince William County — and the Route29 widening from Union Mill Road toBuckley’s Gate Drive — both projects shouldinclude bike lanes on both sides.”He said one of Pleasant Valley Road’ssouthbound lanes was recently convertedinto a buffered bike lane. And, he added,“Also planned is a median rescue-area forpedestrians crossing this heavily traveledroad.”At the park-and-ride on StringfellowRoad, said Lind, “There’s now a secure bikeroom to park your bike for 60/year. Andwe’re now starting to update our bike map.We’ll look at roads’ traffic volume, speed,width and percentage of trucks to give[people] a better idea of what it’s like toride on them.”Franklin Farm resident Jim Keating askedThe bike pathalong PleasantValley Road,near MeherrinDrive, inCentreville’sVirginia Runcommunity.about trail maintenance, and Lind said thecounty Board of Supervisors appropriates 300,000 to 400,000 a year to maintainthe county’s trails. “But there are hundredsand hundreds of miles of trails.” He if they seeproblems with a trail, and his office willnotify the county’s Department of PublicWorks or, in applicable cases, VDOT.“FABB also advocated for grade-separating the bike crossings from the ramps onthe I-66 widening project because they’rethe most dangerous places for bicyclists,”added Stewart.Sully District Transportation Commissioner Jeff Parnes said three entities areresponsible for trails. The county Park Authority maintains the park trails, VDOT isresponsible for trails bordering the roads,and the county handles trails not in parks.Fair Oaks resident Fionnuala Quinn liveson West Ox Road, on the north side of Route50. But, she said, “There’s only a 4-footwide, biking-and-walking trail on one sideof it — and that’s our only way to accessRoute 50. You have to cross two ramps toget to the Fairfax Towne Center, and thereare dire safety issues there; we can’t see onthe crossings.”She asked if there’s funding to continuewomen aren’t biking, it’s aproblem.”Lind asked what roadspeople bike on in Centrevilleand Chantilly and was toldCentreville and Lee roads,Conference Center Drive andWalney Road. Parnes, ofChantilly Highlands, said, “Ijust ride on the extreme rightof a four-lane road becauseI’m more visible to trafficthan when I’m on a sidewalk.And drivers can give memore right-of-way whenthey’re turning.”Keating said he bikes fromFranklin Farm to the BurkeVRE station. Admittedly, henoted, “It’s been an adventure to find a good route.Around Monument Driveand Government CenterParkway, there are fairlywide roads with plenty ofroom for everybody.”Another resident, SaraDyer, said she bikes alongStringfellow. “The outsidelanes are 14-feet wide now,so there’s more room on theroad,” she explained.Lind also asked if themeeting attendees preferriding on paved roads or biketrails, and they were equallydivided.“Because we’re doing somuch suburban driving, theright-on-red [lights] for drivers is an issue where peoplecan get hit,” said Quinn. “The drivers don’tlook for bicyclists and don’t realize the bicyclists have the right of way.”However, related Parnes, “I’ve been in acar and was hit by a bicyclist on Poplar TreeRoad, on the east side of the bridge overRoute 28. She ran into my wife’s side doorbecause she wasn’t looking at the stoplight.And I’m a bicyclist. So as much as bicyclistsfear cars, we need to be aware of what we’redoing, too.” Noting that she rides just forfun, Dyer said she stays on Stringfellowbecause “Everything else is a mess.”Added Parnes: “The Franklin Farm Trailis less than 10 feet from the Fairfax CountyParkway Trail — but there’s no connectionbetween the two.” Lind replied that, “In thenext funding go-round, we’ll be looking atopportunities to do some of these small connections.”When the draft of the new bike mapcomes out, people may contact FABB [email protected] and list where themissing trail connections are. They shouldcontact VDOT to report pedestrian-signaland trail-maintenance issues. Stressing thatFABB is nonprofit, Stewart invited anyoneinterested to “volunteer with us and donateto us.” For more information, go or contact Stewart [email protected] trail or improve safety there for bicyclists. Lind said he didn’t think there was,and Mike Coyle with Sully Supervisor KathySmith’s office said he’d check for her.“Sully is a newer part of the county, somany of the developers had to build sidewalks and trails as part of their projects,”said Lind. “But there are also many missinglinks where they don’t connect.”A male resident also noted that KingCharles Drive is about a 20-foot-steep incline, and Lind said it’ll be on the Sully cycletour.“It’s great that you’re telling our staff whatthe issues are,” Smith told the meeting attendees. “It’s important that we have different ways for people to get around. I’mprepared to fight for your issues, but youneed to communicate with us.”Agreeing, Lind said, “If you want bikelanes in your area, come out to these meetings. Often, we can get these done at nocost to the county when VDOT’s repavingroads.”“Sully Park Drive [in Centreville] got bikelanes done this way, a few years ago,” saidCoyle. “So it’s a great opportunity.”“Far more men than women bike inFairfax County, and it’s a reflection of theinfrastructure conditions,” said Quinn. “Andit’s an important issue because, as long asCentre View January 11-17, 2017 3

NewsPhotos by Bonnie Hobbs/Centre ViewPrincipal Bob D’Amato speaks during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Thebacks of the benches can be turned into tables.Clapping after cutting the ribbon on the outdoor classroom are (fromleft) Bob D’Amato, Tina Pivarnik, Frances Ivey, Assistant PrincipalVaRonica Sloan, Region V Executive Principal Rebecca Baenig andZippy Shell’s Paul Vicente.‘What If a Garden Could Teach, Inspire Children?’Lees Cornercelebrates itsoutdoor classroom.By Bonnie HobbsCentre Viewt took the combined actions of manypeople to bring Lees CornerElementary’s outdoor classroom tofruition. But it began with the visionof third-grade teacher Tina Pivarnik.“I started here as the primary, lead science teacher, and I thought we could domore than plant a tree or recycle paper,”she said. “And I wanted our kids back outside again.”Once just grass, the site behind the schoolnow contains 15 raised, garden beds arounda wooden pergola with latticework sides,plus a cement patio with benches that flipback to become tables.Created before school began in September, it’s now a learning environment whereall ages may do particular reading, mathand art projects outside. The garden bedsare tied to each grade level’s curriculum,and the pergola can be used for events andguest speakers.“We also plan an outdoor whiteboard forteachers on the brick wall at the back ofthe patio,” said Pivarnik. “And our specialneeds and autistic kids will have a safe-playarea with a touch wall off to one side of thepatio, so it’ll be a five-senses garden withwheelchair-accessible planter beds.”To kick off the funding for it, last February, the school received a 2,000 grant fromthe Whole Foods’s Healthy Kids Foundation.It also won a sweepstakes sponsored byI4 Centre View January 11-17, 2017WTOP radio and Zippy Shell Moving & Storage.“We wrote a proposal telling what we’duse the money for, and we were up againsthigh schools,” said Pivarnik. “The schoolwith the most votes won — and you had tobe 13 or older to vote — so we were at ahuge disadvantage. But still, we were neckand-neck ’til the last three months. Firstprize was 20,000, and we won second — 10,000.”A PTA booster track event last springraised 18,000 more, for 30,000 total, tobuild and maintain the outdoor classroom.“It’s amazing,” said Pivarnik. “It’s unbelievable to see a dream realized, especiallywhen you aim big and it gets bigger thanyou ever thought.”But she said it wouldn’t have been possible without the whole communityfundraising and supporting her efforts. Sheespecially praised J&M Landscaping, Portugal Construction and Custom Fence. Andat the recent ribbon-cutting ceremony forthe classroom, Lees Corner Principal BobD’Amato told those attending how proudhe was of the school’s accomplishment, ofPivarnik and of contractor and parent DaveTrumbull.D’Amato said Pivarnik’s “sheer joy forconnecting the environment and school wascontagious. She applied for every grantpossible and we set goals and made plansfor implementation. And we realized wecould do it with hard work and dedication.”As for Trumbull, D’Amato said, “Hereached out and helped design and developthis beautiful project, and his team of contractor friends helped build it. He realizedwhat a great learning opportunity it’ll befor students for years to come, and we’regrateful for all their generosity. And ourparents raised money and helped assemblethe benches.”He said the outdoor classroom fits rightin with Lees Corner’s green-school initiative. And the school is taking three paths toachieve it. The first is cutting back on electricity use to save energy. During the lastschool year, Lees Corner saved more than 4,000 this way.The second is reducing waste. “We savedover 500 pounds of food in our cafeterialast year, put it in our refrigerator and donated it to a local food bank at the end ofeach week,” said D’Amato. “It was food thestudents didn’t eat during the week. Andwe’ll eventually grow our own fruits andvegetables here to serve in the cafeteria.”The third path is healthy living by making sure the school staff and students arehealthy. “Our teachers ran or walked anadditional 2,400 miles last year,” saidD’Amato. “And we have Fun, Fit Fridays. Inthe morning, we play music, and the students and teachers run or walk around thetrack. It relieves stress and gets the kidsready to learn.”And each day, he said, “Our staff continues to grow and learn about nature and theenvironment. Our kids love this outdoorlearning space; and as principal, I’m proudto lead this charge. But we appreciate youall and thank you for taking this step withus.”Also addressing the crowd, Pivarnik said,“This is the end of one phase of our journeyand the beginning of many possibilities tocome. At the start, seven or eight years ago,I asked, ‘What if?’ What if we could havemore of a hands-on experience for our kids?What if we could build garden boxes here?What if our garden spaces were accessibleto all students — and what if they reflectedour curriculum, instead of just being ornamental?“What if a garden could teach and sustain, support and inspire children to careabout a living thing that depends on us?And what if that caring is extended to ourrelationships, our jobs and into the community outside of Lees Corner?”So Pivarnik started researching gardensand the value of children being outdoors.And that’s especially important today, shesaid. “when so many children spend somuch time indoors, looking at an electronicscreen. Here, they can plant pollinator gardens and organic produce and marry whatthey learn to social studies and other subjects.” For example, she said, students coulduse Colonial methods to start their gardensand could host Thomas Jefferson’s plants.Then they could have poetry time and readbooks on the grass. Furthermore, saidPivarnik, “The produce we grow can alsosupport our school families; and in exchange, the families receiving it can workin the garden.” Then, quoting inspirationalwriter Steve Maraboli, she said, “Plant seedsof happiness, hope, success and love. It willall come back to you in abundance; this isthe law of nature.”Next, Region V Superintendent FrancesIvey congratulated and thanked the school.“This is an example of what can be accomplished when we have visionary leaders,opportunities and resources from businesses, and the strong support of the parents, teachers, Chantilly Pyramid, RegionV principals and FCPS facilities staff,” shesaid. “And I look forward to the ‘what ifs’for many years to come.”At the end of the ceremony, just beforethe outdoor classroom’s ribbon-cutting, kindergarten teacher Martha Hellman gavePivarnik a gift “in awe and in gratitude forwhat you’ve given to our school. It’s a giftfor all of us.”

NewsPredatory Loans in the CrossfireLawmakers conflicted about how to handle high-interest loans.By Michael Lee PopeCentre Viewt this time last year, members ofthe General Assembly were feeling the heat about car-title lending. Public outrage was growingabout the industry, which charges interestrates in excess of 300 percent in some of thepoorest neighborhoods in Northern Virginia.Lawmakers were particularly concerned thatcar-title lenders were evading the regulationsthey put in place to protect consumers by offering more than one kind of loan at theirstorefront locations, a move many membersof the General Assembly considered a baitand-switch operation.Behind the scenes, car-title lenders weretaking action to head off efforts to crack downon their industry.In the week before the General Assemblysession began, title lenders gave 35,000 incampaign contributions even though the campaign for General Assembly seats had endedthe previous November. Like many businesses,title lenders make a habit of making campaigncontributions after the election and before thesession, during which they are prohibited fromgiving. The donations are not reported untilAwww.ConnectionNewspapers.comafter the session, so following the money isn’treally a possibly during the flurry of action inRichmond.“They serve a very useful purpose for thebusiness because it reminds people right at thestart of the session who their friends are,” saidStephen Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. “Thecoalition of people to block regulation mayinclude some Democrats and some Republicans, and that’s why they are equal opportunity givers. Some money goes to Democratsand some goes to Republicans.”Take, for example, the 15,000 contributionLoanMax gave to the Senate Democratic Caucus the day before the session began. A fewdays later, the Senate Democratic leaderbrokered a deal that involved two of the state’sleading title lenders voluntarily agreeing tostop offering multiple kinds of loans at theirstorefront locations. That deal ended up torpedoing all the reform bills.“It’s impossible to say that there was a quidpro quo. I mean, you just can’t say that,” saidQuentin Kidd, a professor at Christopher Newport University. “But it is possible to say thatthere was an effort on LoanMax’s part to gainaccess to elected officials so that their casecould be heard.”Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw, thesenior member of the Fairfax County delegation in the state Senate, is the one who negotiated the deal involving a voluntary agreement with two of the three title lenders authorized to offer consumer finance loans.LoanMax was not part of that deal, eventhough it had dual license authority at thetime. Saslaw says LoanMax isn’t the problem.“LoanMax doesn’t do that business,” saysSaslaw. “They don’t do it in the same facility.They’re the ones that called and alerted meto what was going on.”According to public documents from theState Corporation Commission, LoanMax haddual licensing authority to offer car-title loansas well as consumer finance loans at its Alexandria location on Mount Vernon Avenue inthe Arlandria neighborhood.The commission also has documents thatshow how many loans made last year — including what kind of loans — as well as howmany automobiles the company repossessed.But regulators don’t want to hand over thosedocuments. And Saslaw isn’t in the mood toanswer questions about his involvement in thedeal.“They don’t do it,” he said when asked aboutSee Predatory Loans, Page 7Centre View January 11-17, 2017 5

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The papers are delivered free to homesand businesses throughout Northern Virginia, and through free digital subscriptions,with more than 150,000 readers across theregion. If you or your organization appreciate the Connection publications, please support them by patronizing our advertisers andby spending a portion of your marketingbudget with us.For information about advertising, t [email protected], orcall 703-778-9431.Visit our website, and click on “contact us” forquick forms for:Free digital subscriptions to one or more ofour 15 papers: a letter to the editor or email to [email protected] provide educational, unpaid internshipsall year; apply at or email letterand resume to [email protected] We welcome students andadults.Find us on Facebook at— Mary KimmAccomplishments in Sully District in 2016and Residential Estate zoning districts. TheseSully District Supervisor regulations will protect current and futurehomeowners from overdevelopment.his past year, it had beenFinally, we shuttled the final site plan formypleasuretorepresent Wegmans through the approval process withSully District on the Fairfax County minor modifications. I’m optimistic that thisBoard of Supervisors. As my term begins its grocery store and shopping center will be posisecond year, I am issuing you a report on im- tive additions to our community.portant 2016 milestones in Sully District andOur Human Services Bond passed in NovemFairfax County at large.ber. That bond includes funding forEarly in the year, we hit the ground Commentary a new Sully Community and Seniorrunning with a review of land useCenter. The senior center will beprocess in Sully District. We facilitatedmoved temporarily until the newa plan to streamline the development process center is constructed.and harness maximum resident input whileAs Sully supervisor, perhaps my greatest resaving staff time and legal fees. Simultaneously, sponsibility is constituent service. When awe launched a comprehensive planning review major snow event hit our area in January, myof the Dulles Suburban Area Center. This is the office fielded over 1,400 constituent contacts.first time such a review has taken place since We helped identity for VDOT areas of the1991. I’m very pleased to have my predeces- county that were overlooked. After the storm,sor Michael Frey leading the Dulles Suburban we convened a snow summit to investigateArea Advisory Group. The members have ex- what improvements could be made when theperience ranging from land use planning to next storm comes.transportation to airports. We recruited thisDuring the budget discussions, I hosted ateam from across Sully District and they are joint town hall with Sully School Board memcurrently in the process of reviewing and com- ber Tom Wilson and we heard from many resipiling recommendations for revisions to the dents about the need to balance a small taxcomprehensive plan that will guide land use increase with increases in quality school andcounty services. After months of negotiationin our community for the next 20 years.In my role as chair of the Board of between my colleagues and myself, we raisedSupervisor’s Development Process Committee, teacher salaries 40 million and saved the taxI was pleased to oversee new regulations on payers money in other parts of the budget.The Board of Supervisors also made progresspermissible shape factors for new residentialdevelopments in the Residential Conservation on the Police Commission Report. For my part,By Kathy SmithT6 Centre View January 11-17, 2017I met with community leaders and faith leaders as well as over 20 officers from the Sullypolice station to understand how our actionswould effect each stakeholder. Because of myoutreach, I was able to provide valuable editsregarding the release of officer names andannual review of the implementation of theCivilian Review Panel.In transportation news, the Transform 66Outside the Beltway project moved forwardwith VDOT making their selection of the private partner to finance, design, build, maintain and operate the project. We also authorized the preliminary engineering and partialright of way acquisition for Route 28 widening between the Prince William County Lineand US 29. Finally, Governor McAuliffe cameto Dulles Airport to announce a new 50 million investment over the next two years.This year, we received ringing endorsementsof the strong economic activity happening herein Sully District. We opened the first breweryin Sully — Mustang Sally — in May. GovernorMcAuliffe visited the district again to celebratethe expansion of CarFax in August. The DriverRehabilitation Center of Excellence opened towide media acclaim in November. In December, the Fairfax County Disability Services Commission awarded the Martha Glennan Disability Service Award to the Sully District smallbusiness I nominated — Wildflour Caterers ofChantilly.It has been a busy year in Sully District and2017 promises to be just as wspaper ofCentrevilleLittle Rocky RunA Connection NewspaperAn independent, locally owned weeklynewspaper deliveredto homes and businesses.Published byLocal Media Connection LLC1606 King StreetAlexandria, Virginia 22314Free digital edition delivered toyour email box. 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NewsPredatory Loans in the CrossfirePredatory LoansFrom Page 5LoanMax. “End of discussion.” Car-Title Loans: Last year, two of the three biggest car-title lenders cut a deal withthe Senate Democratic leader to avoid additional regulations. Part of the arrangementincluded state regulators withdrawing the ability of car-title lenders to offer other kindsof loans at the same location, which many lawmakers considered a bait-and-switch operation. Regulators said they didn’t have the authority to do that, so lawmakers may takeaction to limit car-title lenders to car-title loans. The Virginia Supreme Court is alsoconsidering a case that could open up the books to show how many loans individualbusinesses are making and how many cars they are repossessing. Open-End Line of Credit Loans: These were originally created so consumerscould purchase appliances from department stores, but they have now become a favoriteproduct by former payday lenders that don’t want to deal with all the regulations lawmakers created for the industry. They are almost completely unregulated. State regulators don’t track them. Lenders don’t need a license to offer them. There’s no limit on theinterest rates they can charge. Lawmakers will be considering an effort to make theseloans subject to the same restrictions as payday loans and car-title loans. Internet Loans: They may be technically illegal in Virginia, but that doesn’t meanthat businesses aren’t eager to offer people who live here loans at up to 900 percentinterest. Last year, a company known as OneMain persuaded Del. Terry Kilgore (R-1),chairman of the Commerce and Labor Committee, to introduce legislation legalizinginternet lending. That bill failed, but more may be on the way this year.THE DISCUSSION ABOUT car-title lending may not be over yet though. AfterSaslaw cut the deal with industry leaders,he and state Sen. Frank Wagner (R-7) senta letter to the State Corporation Commission asking “your assistance in removingdual business authority for title, payday oropen-end lending companies operating atthe same location.”Regula

cating for a parallel bike trail along I-66 in Fairfax County, and it's now in the plans. We've also been working to get a bike-park-ing ordinance enacted in commercial de-velopments so, when they're built, they'd have to include bike-parking areas and racks." Fairfax County Bicycle Coordinator Adam Lind noted that, in 2014, the .