Letters to the Editor: February 18 – 24, 2010

Proposed Cut at Cherry Hill Ill Conceived


I understand there is a proposal being considered in the City of Falls Church FY 2011 budget discussion to cut the Cherry Hill Farmhouse coordinator position in the Recreation and Parks division.

This position is part-time, and the employee, Diane Morse, has served the city and the property faithfully for 20 years. Such a move would be extremely short-sighted. Since Cherry Hill was restored during the 1975-76 bicentennial, and eventually finished and furnished in period style, it has annually served as the prime location for numerous public events and educational activities that are open to residents and visitors alike. It is also rented for private events, including weddings and receptions. Dating to 1845 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places (one of only a few such designated historic properties in the entire city), it will take on even more pivotal importance and visibility as we prepare to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Along with its adjoining barn, it is the only such local historic structure in public ownership. Diane serves not only as the site manager and curator for the complex, but the program planner, organizer and coordinator for volunteer, education, and related activities. It is not realistic to assume that these and related property management tasks could be picked up entirely by volunteers, and therefore the well-being of the property and our considerable public investment in it over more than 30 years would be in serious jeopardy. For all the discussion about the value of arts, culture, and heritage to the quality of life in our “little city,” very little public investment goes into these activities.

I urge the City Council and the City Manager to reject this proposal and look carefully at alternatives to such an ill-conceived action.

Ron Anzalone

Falls Church

Only History Related Slot Set for Ax


Currently the City spends .0004% of the overall budget (assuming $70 million) on the only History related position on City staff, Cherry Hill Coordinator.

Yet we establish a City Arts and Cultural District last Fall and name it CATCH, City of Art, Theatre, Culture and History — where Cherry Hill Farmhouse and Barn Museum complex is the centerpiece– the only City sponsored event that doesn’t happen there is Watch Night and First Friday.

Jeopardizing this iconic civic and cultural focal point even in these tough times just doesn’t seem logical. Eliminating this position puts us in danger of losing almost 40 years of a very large investment of time, talent, taxes, private contributions and media growth and positive media hits that has been a gift at a very reasonable price.

Some of the income sources from the CH complex include fees from three History Camps (which has a waiting list), Farm Day, Brownie and other Scout and School Tours of both the Farmhouse and Barn Museum, several Teas, weddings, meetings and other receptions are held there both by private and public citizens and groups. Diane plans, and oversees these and more by marketing the Historic House Museum (see brochure or www.dchousemuseums.org) in all of her tourism meetings for Cherry Hill and as Chairman of the City’s statewide Civil War Susquicentennial Commemoration ending in 2015.

Maybe it’s the “Washington Effect”, because we live here we don’t visit or appreciate or even know what we have just minutes away. We are attracting so many groups from all over the DC area reaching to Gaithersburg, Manassas, Springfield, and Washington D.C. with 4,000 visitors annually.

I urge the City Government and Council to retain this position for effectiveness, efficiencies and economies and importance. Our choices reflect greatly on us and what we value – Our Little City.

Barb Cram

Falls Church


Big Tax Hike Will Diminish Property Values


As a City resident I am thankful for the News-Press coverage of City Council considering a jaw-dropping 28% property tax hike for city residents.

Homeowners of the average $650,000 Falls Church City residence would immediately see a $2,000 per year tax hike in this scenario — and some City Council members are calling this “affordable.” This shows the council’s genuine disconnect with the hardworking folks of Falls Church who would have to foot this new bill.

Besides crushing folks already stretched on their monthly payments, this type of massive tax hike will decrease property values in Falls Church relative to those in McLean, Arlington or Alexandria. Everything else equal, the tax hike will make the average Falls Church City homeowner’s monthly payments nearly $200 per month more expensive than in surrounding jurisdictions — money that could be spent to buy “more house” in our neighboring communities.

Most frustrating: the folks on the council pondering this tax hike raised their salaries by more than 300% in the 2008 budget. If you don’t believe me, look at pages 50-51 of the 2010 budget document on the city’s website.

City residents need to really begin to challenge city officials on this matter. Visit “Stop the Falls Church Tax Hike” on Facebook for ways you can help.

Jonathan Collegio

Falls Church


Modest Proposal to Pay No Taxes At All


I’d like to make a comment about our high taxes and how clearing the snow has been a real budget buster. My idea is to eliminate the snow clearing in the budget. This would help lower our taxes. Than when it snows we could have bids from citizens on having the city clear the streets. Those that bid the highest would have their streets cleared first. This might actually become a money maker for the city and if successful could be applied to other city services.

Why in the end maybe we won’t have to pay any taxes at all.

Jay Rubin

Falls Church


Hails Snow Removal Crews In Falls Church


A big thank you goes to the snow removal crews that blasted us out of our historic snow storms. They are the heroes of the week. The first blizzard started on Friday afternoon, and I believe it was Monday afternoon, I talked to one of the crew, and he hadn’t had much sleep since the storm began.

Sure, snow plows pushed snow unto our sidewalks that we were supposed to keep clean, but where were they supposed to put it? My husband and I were wondering where we were going to put the snow piles while we were shoveling near already damaged bushes and trees while we were doing our sidewalks. Who expects a winter in Washington to have more snow than Buffalo?

Everyone wasn’t plowed out as quickly as they would like, but I will tell you that they were luckier than other surrounding jurisdictions. I used to live in Montgomery County, and we lived on a street that wouldn’t get plowed for days after a big snow storm.

This past Friday night, I braved the roads and traffic to visit my dad who has been in Georgetown University Hospital. Going was slow, but the traffic moved until I got to Reservoir Road where it was at a near standstill. I finally found a parking space and walked the last two blocks. Walking was much faster than driving. I couldn’t understand why traffic was so slow since both of the normal two lanes were open. I asked a hospital employee when I got inside and he said that the snow plows had just come to the side streets, and that many people were dug out for the first time in over a week. Those cars were then poured out onto busier streets, causing gridlock.

There may have been some in Falls Church that couldn’t get out of their drive ways for a couple of days, but I am sure that there were none who couldn’t get out because their street hadn’t been plowed for nine days.

Thank you snow crew!

Shirley Connuck

Falls Church


Speed Bumps Ravaged By Snow Plows


When the controversial speed bumps on East Columbia were being rushed into place outside established approval procedures, the City repeatedly stated the bumps would be compatible with snow plows. Those claims were untrue. The bumps have been shredded by the plows. What remains of the bumps now present three inch sharp curbs in the middle of the street, in violation of road construction and maintenance standards. Driving over the sharp edges of the failed bumps produces a jarring jolt. The uprooted, overturned pieces of the failed bumps can be found strewn about the roadsides. They contain five inch sharp threaded bolts protruding upward, in wait for passing tires. The bumps are a hazard.

We applaud the plowing efforts in these strained circumstances but the bumps were not as advertised and were not ready for prime time. They should be removed, and further studies should be conducted to find a better solution for East Columbia.

Al Krachman

Falls Church


West Bank Story Told Only 1 Side


I am writing in response to the article the News-Press published regarding life in the West Bank two weeks ago, and a letter to the editor about the trip published last week.

First, the article did not provide the viewpoint of Israelis who have been victimized and terrorized by Palestinian suicide bombers from the West Bank. The article merely discusses the hardships Palestinians in the West Bank face, but never the loss and hardships of average Israeli citizens. Second, the article never delves into why the Israeli government has set up the roadblocks and checkpoints: Palestinian suicide bombers entered Israel and wreaked havoc and destruction on innocent Israeli civilians. As for Ms. El-Ghoul, the right to return issue is not one of visitation, but of allowing the descendents of former Arab owners of Israeli lands (many of whom left voluntarily) to “reclaim” homes they have never seen. This is a thinly veiled attempt to ensure that Israel ceases being the homeland of the Jewish people. Moreover, Israel has withdrawn totally from the Gaza strip and has halted some settlement building in the West Bank. Despite this, Hamas continues to fire weapons from Gaza at civilians in Southern Israel.

I do agree, however, that we all should take an interest in ensuring peace and stability in the Middle East with homelands for both the Palestinian and Israeli people, based on an accurate understanding of the facts and a respect by all sides for the lives and well-being of the other.

Beth Heleman

Via the Internet

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