Friends of Cherry Hill Comments on the Park Avenue Great Streets Project

On August 1, 2022, several members of the Friends of Cherry Hill Board participated in the CIty’s walk that
outlined Falls Church’s plan for Park Avenue. Based on their comments and those of others who have reviewed the documents, the Friends of Cherry Hill Farmhouse Foundation has concerns about the Great Streets proposal. The potential changes to Park Avenue could have significant effects on the preservation and operation of Cherry Hill Farmhouse and its outlying buildings.

While Cherry Hill Farmhouse is a part of Cherry Hill Park, it is a distinct and visible symbol of our community 177 years ago. Built-in 1845, the farmhouse is on the National Register of Historic Places. We are baffled that it is not mentioned or referenced in the Great Streets proposal for Park Ave. It definitely should be. Its preservation and operation need to be taken into consideration in the planning and development process of the proposal.

Based on the significance of Cherry Hill Farmhouse, the recent walk, and review of the PowerPoint document, several of the Friends’ Board members have discussed the proposal and would like to offer the following comments. The comments relate directly to the possible impacts/improvements to Cherry Hill Farmhouse and its surroundings. (Individual members may have additional concerns or comments about the proposal.)

  1. Improved access to the farmhouse. We would like to ensure that improved access to the farmhouse is integrated into the project. Perhaps some graduated paths from both ends of the retaining wall would provide such improved access. Currently, it is difficult to get to the upper sidewalk and the house along the retaining wall. Though many of the sidewalks in the area are brick, we are concerned that brick can become very slippery and might not be appropriate for sloped paths that are ADA compliant.
  2. Signage about the existence of the farmhouse museum. Signage about the location and purpose of the Cherry Hill Farmhouse is absent. Except a small history plaque, there is no signage proximate to the farmhouse indicating that it is an important City museum and open to the public. Nor, unfortunately, is there mention of Cherry Hill’s location on any of the City’s way-finding signs. As an example of the need for signage, we note that visitors who “stumble” across the house have remarked that while they lived in or around Falls Church for years, they thought the farmhouse was a private residence. This lack of signage requires us to post temporary signs on Saturday mornings to attract visitors. We would be willing to follow up our past efforts regarding appropriate signage in conjunction with the Recreation and Parks Department.
  3. Parking along Park Avenue. We are concerned that despite the statement that the proposal will add parking spaces, proximate spaces might be removed and those that are added will be at a greater distance from the farmhouse. We are also concerned that the time limit on parking on the north side of Park Ave will continue to be 2 hours and that that time limit might also be applied to the south side. The farmhouse is rented for parties, receptions, and weddings. These events can exceed 2 hours. Saturday tour guides and guides for student class tours also need parking near the farmhouse. Attendees at those events and volunteers often need more than 2 hours of parking. We urge you to increase the limit on the north side of Park Ave to at least 3 hours and that you not limit the time of parking on the south side of Park Avenue. This is not an area of high commercial demand and those with legitimate purposes at Cherry Hill should not be getting parking tickets for exceeding the current time limit.
  4. Improved lighting. Currently, lighting in the area of the Cherry Hill Farmhouse is insufficient. We urge you to upgrade the lighting along the street/sidewalk and especially the entrance to the farmhouse. In addition, to period-appropriate light fixtures and footpath lighting should also be considered.
  5. Appropriate plantings. We note that the proposal may have some significant impact on the vegetation/trees along the street near the farmhouse. If there is an opportunity to select tree plantings, we encourage you to consider cherry or other fruit trees near the farmhouse. (Visitors often ask why the farmhouse is called Cherry Hill when there are no cherry trees.) Cherry trees might replace the current black walnut trees, which are a bit of an ankle-twisting opportunity for those walking on the grassy areas around the farmhouse. We would very much appreciate meeting with you about the issues we have described.
    Maureen Budetti and Diane Morse
    Friends of Cherry Hill Foundation