Local Commentary

Editorial: Council Should OK Akridge’s Project

Hardly a week goes by now, it seems, but that someone new is staking a claim to Falls Church taxpayer dollars. This week, it comes in the form of sudden news that Arlington County discovered an error in its own bookkeeping resulting in an undercharge of Falls Church for its share of the Arlington Detention Center by around $2 million.

We assume it is not simply for the fact that Falls Church was crowned by the U.S. Census Bureau last month as having the highest median income of any jurisdiction in the entire U.S. But if anyone may be feeling like they’re being bullied and  shaken down by the big kids on either side of them these days, it could by Falls Church City officials.

While the City, of course, is not taking any of this sitting down, in this fundamentally unequal world we live in, the little ones have to marshal their resources in an even more focused and resolute manner to stay in the game. Goliath wasn’t felled by just any old random sling shot. It was delivered by someone who honed his skills not only to sling with force and accuracy, but to become one of the best poets in history and a great king, no less.

In Falls Church, citizens are called to summon themselves in these times with an uncommon resolve to defend the community’s greatest assets – its public schools, exemplary participatory government and progressive values – by executing effective means to boost its revenues and stay solvent.

This Monday, a major inflection point in this process arrives with the F.C. City Council’s final vote to grant approvals to the Akridge Company seeking to construct its Gateway mixed use project on North Washington St.

This vote is key for a variety of reasons, some already alluded to. Perhaps the most important one is the breakthrough it represents. In 2001, the Council’s approval of The Broadway, the City’s first large-scale new development in decades, ushered in a new era of mixed-use development that has so far kept Falls Church’s head above the water through the roughest of times.

Now, after the onset of the Great Recession, this Monday’s vote, if in the affirmative, will represent the first evidence of recovery from over three years of miserable stagnation and disappointment. With all that’s besieging the City now, it comes none-too-soon.

While due diligence in walking around projects like The Gateway from all sides by responsible citizen leaders is always welcome, it unsettles us that there should be any doubt in this case. The City needs this project more than the project needs this particular location.

Most in Falls Church’s leadership know that, no matter how reluctant to say so publicly. But there can be no grandstanding, no unreasonable demands at this stage that might sour Akridge against going forward. If the Council votes “yes” Monday, it will be a harbinger of much better things to come.