Considering the slope and scope of a Fairfax County skiing destination for moguls and the rest of us 

Make all the jokes you want. You know, slippery slopes, it’s all downhill from here, not a snowball’s chance.

But in a poll (not a ski pole) at the base (not a base lodge) of Katishi Maake’s recent article in the Washington Business Journal, 79 percent of 809 respondents said they would give indoor skiing a try — at least once.

Artist’s rendition of what the SnowWorld facility in Lorton would resemble. (Image, SnowWorld via Fairfax News)

That level of interest has Fairfax County and SnowWorld International  enthusiastic about the prospects of bringing a unique indoor ski slope and sports recreation center to the hills of Lorton.

Actually, the proposed site is the 489-acre county landfill and the facility would be built through a public-private partnership between the county, Netherlands-based SnowWorld International and McLean-based Alpine-X.

SnowWorld owns two indoor ski resorts in the Netherlands and has designs on building as many as 20 similar facilities in North America in the next decade through its partnership with Alpine-X. The Lorton site, as proposed to a subcommittee of the Fairfax County Sports Tourism Task Force, could be the first.

Indoor skiing at SnowWorld’s Landgraaf facility in the Netherlands. (Photo, alamy.com)

“The fiscal, sports and community benefits of this opportunity are numerous, including new jobs, exciting new sports opportunities, the potential for high school ski teams, new hotel and restaurant amenities for the South County area, premier national competitions and financial benefits to our tax payers from the lease, sales tax, and hotel tax revenue streams,” wrote Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity (Springfield District), who has led an effort to promote sports tourism here.

According to Visit Fairfax, with projected annual visitation of 350,000 to 400,000 people, SnowWorld could generate $25 million in direct economic impact and another $40 million of indirect impact for the county, not to mention about $750,000 in annual sales tax and hotel-tax revenue.

Maake reports that the county will consider competing offers for the site through Sept. 12. Here’s what the proposed project — currently known as Fairfax Peak — could include:

Riding the rails at SnowWorld, Landgraaf. (Photo, Booking.com)
  • A 450,000-square-foot facility with multiple slopes (including one up to 1,700 feet long) for skiing and snowboarding, snow tubing runs and a beginners’ slope.
  • A gondola between the base and peak of the snow sports facility and Occoquan Regional Park, a mountain zipline and a mountain coaster amusement ride with bobsled-styled cars on tracks from the summit of the landfill to NOVA Parks-managed land.
  • A hotel with more than 100 rooms and easy access to the main base area of the ski facility.
  • Multiple restaurants, bars, shops, event space and equipment rental facilities.

It’s a story that cannot be buried under an avalanche of one-liners.

Sun shines on our region: The national SolSmart program, which promotes solar energy development, awarded the Northern Virginia Regional Commission a “Gold” designation Fairfax County a “Silver” designation for projects to make it faster, easier and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar.

The county also received special recognition for its inspections process. The Regional Commission became the 250th national municipality or regional organization to earn gold, silver or bronze recognition for encouraging solar energy growth and removing obstacles to solar development.
SolSmart uses objective criteria to award communities points based on the actions they take to reduce barriers to solar energy development. The nonprofit is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill (right) accepts the SolSmart Silver Award. (Photo, Fairfax County)

“Fairfax County and its 1.1 million residents should be pleased that we have received a SolSmart Silver Award,” said Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill. “We continue to align government operations through our countywide strategic planning process, and this recognition affirms that we are moving in the right direction, prioritizing the environment, green economic opportunities and a level playing field for residents as we strive for an efficient government.”

Fairfax County offers: no-fee permitting for residential or commercial solar systems; same-day building permits for solar systems; tax exemptions for homeowners and businesses who install solar equipment, including solar panels, solar water heating systems and passive solar energy systems; discounted solar systems for homeowners and businesses through Solarize Fairfax County; grants for homeowners associations for energy conservation projects.v”We are proud to have achieved this designation in recognition of the commission’s efforts to promote solar energy in the region,” said Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco, chairman of the Regional Commission. “Combined with energy efficiency/conservation efforts the commission is making a concerted effort in helping residents and businesses reduce their energy usage and produce their own”
NVRC provided guidance on solar photovoltaic planning, zoning and development best practices to communities and counties in the region; shared an inspection checklist for the region; hosted regional training/discussions on best practices in solar permitting; and created a solar landing page on the regional website with information on the region’s solar goals and local resources.

More awards and special recognitions:

  • Fairfax County’s Department of Vehicle Services ranks 11th on a top-20 list of vehicle fleets in North America based on Government Fleet’s analysis. Judging is based on efficiency, effectiveness and modernity of fleet operations (covering 20 criteria); leadership with staff, with customers, and within the community; ability to stay efficient and competitive; ability to overcome challenges; having a vision and direction for the operation. At last count, Fairfax County DVS serviced and maintained 6,347 vehicles, including 1,540 school buses and vehicles for police, fire and public works.
  • SOS International of Reston received the International Stability Operations Association’s Vanguard Award for efforts to demonstrate transparency, accountability and ethics. ExecutiveBiz carried the news.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration presented Northrop Grumman of the Falls Church area with the Diamond Award of Excellence, recognizing the company’s FAA-certified repair station for a ninth consecutive year. ExecutiveBiz took note.
  • Northwest Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Herndon, was recently recognized with Mastercard’s “Doing Well By Doing Good” award for philanthropic work in the community. Yahoo! picked up this piece of good news.

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