Letters to the Editor: July 9 – 15, 2009

Cay Wiant Remembered for Many Contributions


Cay Wiant leaves a remarkable and well-known legacy in Falls Church at every turn. In her decades in the City’s schools she touched thousands of our lives and those of our children.

Generations of teachers learned their craft from her. As a leader in the education community she unfailingly advocated for the schools and represented the faculty as head of the Falls Church Education Association.


But Cay also changed my life. In the early 1990s, we were both members of the same local pool and often spent time together talking about the schools, in particular the teachers. When three vacancies opened on the then-appointed Board, she encouraged me to apply-her husband, Jon, spoke for me in front of the City Council-and I was selected. I went on to serve a total of 11 years on the Board, including stints as Chair and Vice Chair and a successful effort to build a new school; these were among the most rewarding years of my adult life. She provided me with invaluable counsel and made me a better board member. So, Cay, in a very real sense, opened a door for me to serve the community and the children of Falls Church and have told this story and thanked her numerous times and I do so again-thanks, Cay.

Jay Grusin

Former F.C. Resident & School Board Member


F.C. ‘Gateways’ Need to Become More Welcoming


I have read the article about the Falls Church not being “welcoming”, (6/24) and the letter to the editor(7/2), from Barbara Paris, clarifying what was the intent of the branding survey, that it was the “physical state of the business district” that was at issue. I would like to take this opportunity to second that and in my opinion express that it is not only the business district that is “not compelling and therefore not welcoming”, it is evident at every entry point into the City of Falls Church that is “not compelling and therefore not welcoming”. Many planners would use the term as a “Gateway” into the City.

If one takes a look at many of the Gateways into Falls Church, they will find a mish mash of signs, weeds, overheads wires, traffic lights and speed limit signs. The speed limit signs are really superfluous in that they are totally ignored. It also seems redundant to have flashing lights at school zones that are 25 mile per hour zones, when the entire City is 25 miles per hour.

For a period of over one year, I have been in communication with the Mayor and the City Manager to discuss these opportunities to create “Gateways” into the City, which may make it feel more welcoming. If one can travel down N. West St. out of the City into Arlington County, they will find a newly planted boulevard along Westmoreland and new traffic lights,extended curbs to ease pedestrian crossings along Yorktown Rd. If one travels the reverse into the City, they will find the wires and weeds described above.At one intersection at Lincoln and N. West Street there are 10 traffic lights hanging from wires.

In my opinion it is not just “Welcome to Falls Church” signs that will turn this tide. It is the responsibility of the City to enhance the public environment that matches the enhancements of individual property owners. It is the reasonability of the City to extend a welcoming face to all, while within its boundaries. If this is not taken seriously, no matter how much money is thrown at the City Center efforts, it will remain isolated as no one will want to stop and shop.

Robert J Fatovic

Falls Church


Examples of F.C.’s Lack of Hospitality


In a recent News-Press, the local SmithGifford agency said it was an “a-ha” moment recently when finding that non-city residents don’t view the City of Falls Church as “welcoming” as residents do. In a follow-up letter to the editor, Barbara Paris from SmithGifford clarified that it’s the physical state of the city (limited signage and parking, types of businesses and physical state of buildings) that’s unwelcoming. Perhaps there’s yet another angle…

In 2005, in response to Money Magazine’s low ranking of the City because the ranking were based on stats that included surrounding zip codes, the News-Press reported that “…Falls Church Mayor Dan Gardner said… that he shared Councilman Snyder’s concern for the way the City of Falls Church is so often being lumped in with its much larger neighboring area.”

This was followed by additional chatter about distinguishing the city from the surrounding area. One idea was to insist that the name “City of Falls Church” be used for the 22046 zip code (although my City neighbors here in the Hillwood neighborhood are in 22042). Another suggestion was to change the name from “City of Falls Church” to “Falls Church City.”

Also in 2005, one of the News-Press editorials argued that “policy requiring non-City of Falls Church resident to pay an admission charge to use the gym at the Falls Church Community Center” was a “lack of hospitality.”

Then, there’s the water system… Is ROI a fiscally responsible approach to running a utility? Or, is it a way to have county residents subsidize the City of Falls Churc’s city operations?

In 2002, the City wanted to buy land from the Hillwood Square Association in Fairfax County to build a school. This would have cut the tax revenue for Fairfax County, as the property would move to “tax exempt” status (and would keep more land in the City as taxable – another subsidy??).

None of these episodes is especially “welcoming” to non-residents.

Now, having said all of that… my neighbors who are residents of the City are as welcoming and friendly as can be. And, here in the Hillwood neighborhood, we don’t try to distinguish between city and county. In fact, we have a single citizens’ association for both.

Roger Wilson

Falls Church


Lauds Report in FCNP of ‘Rape Defense’


I was so happy to see last week’s thorough coverage of the Rape Aggression Defense program right here in Falls Church! My sister and I have taken the course before and I cannot tell you how much it helped us bond, as well as taught us personal strength. The article finally gave the recognition RAD deserves! I will tell you that I do have kids that attend the local schools, and I love to see their names in the paper. However, it’s also nice to read news from a women’s perspective. Thank you for having something ELSE for the mom and women readers than just what our kids are up to.
Debbie Brown

Falls Church


Powell Hits Impact on National Debt


The News-Press printed a pair of letters, the first criticizing the President and the second pointing out (correctly) that he inherited the problems being criticized.

More telling is Colin Powell’s recent public caution to President Obama to slow down his ambitious agenda – such as overhaul of health care and cap-and-trade energy – in the face of recession and huge budget deficits. This from Colin Powell on CNN: “You can’t have so many things on the table that you can’t absorb it all. And we can’t pay for it all. I think the President … has to start really taking a very, very hard look at what the cost of all this is. And how much additional bureaucracy and will it be effective bureaucracy … We are amassing a huge, huge national debt that, if we don’t pay for in our lifetime, our kids and grandkids and great grandchildren will have to pay for it.”

Neighbors, that last one – forcing our children to pay our debts – is simply immoral.

Ron Parson

Falls Church