Letters to the Editor: April 26 – May 2, 2012

Rainy, But Hats Off Anyway For PTA’s F.C. Garden Tour


Hats off to the Falls Church Elementary PTA sponsored Home and Garden Tour 2012. The rain on Sunday did not keep attendees at home as evidenced by the number of shoes and umbrellas left at the entrance of each of the showcased homes by tour goers traversing the interiors.

Each of the homes on the tour provided a unique reflection on the diversity of style within the City and it was refreshing to see the use of “green” materials in the homes, from the oldest to the newest. The two contemporary homes exhibited the clean lines of a minimalist lifestyle; both Copeswood and the Garner cottage a beautiful merging of older and newer design features; the Henderson house was a historical time capsule as was the Duputron House. The two featured gardens were getting a much needed natural watering and thus not as many visitors but if one did venture into either, a view of thoughtful planting was apparent. Thanks to the homeowners for allowing the general public a peek into their homes and gardens.

Jeanette Barkley

Falls Church

Lincoln Avenue Resident Opposes Pedestrian Plan


I live at 807 Lincoln Avenue and we are not in favor of this “Pedestrian” plan. I did not know this plan was even out there until one of my neighbors stopped by with a petition to stop this nonsense. You can bet I signed that petition and thanked him for bringing it to our attention. When Mayor Baroukh stopped by our home recently, my husband brought it up to him about how unhappy we were with this plan.

The Little City already has a big problem with lack of parking and this will compound that situation. My lot is 50′ wide and 170′ long, the approximate size of most lots on Lincoln Avenue from West Street to Great Falls Street, on the bike trail side of the street. Which means my home cannot be more than 30′ wide, pretty hard to fit a garage on that lot. Most homes on this street do not have garages and have one spot in the yard to park one car. Also, most homes on this street sit fairly close to the front of their lots. If you widen the sidewalks I will assume you plan to take some of the front yards? So my house will now sit on the sidewalk?

Where am I supposed to park the other cars? As with most homes in this area we have more than one car; we have three adults living in this home with each adult having a car. I heard one suggestion is to park the other cars around the corner, do you think my neighbors want me parking my car in front of their house?

I guess I could always cut down the trees in my front yard and pave the front yard, what’s left of it, so I can park all my cars off the street. Whoops! There goes the beauty of the neighborhood with all its trees and shrubbery in bloom. Might even effect The Little City’s Tree City USA standing. But, oh well, we got the cars off the street. There goes my property value down the tubes.

So this plan is to get people to stop driving through The Little City and to spend some time walking and biking through town and hopefully stop and spend some money in The Little City. Where are they spending money on Lincoln Avenue? There is not one commercial storefront on Lincoln Avenue where someone could spend money, even if they wanted to. Guess I’ll have to invest in a security system so when all those “walkers” are casing my home I won’t get robbed blind.

Well, we want to make sure the bicycles have lots of places to ride. Isn’t that why the W&OD trail was built, to entice bicycles, walkers and others? Reminder: Lincoln Avenue runs parallel to the trail. If the bicycles need more space there is plenty of space back there to pave another lane. By the way – Did you know that every intersection surrounding Lincoln Avenue requires us to cross the bike path and those horrible signs in the street; West, Spring, Oak, Great Falls and Little Falls.

So to summarize this all up; this plan will widen the sidewalks on lots where we already have small front yards and no garages. Put in bike lanes on the streets that will eliminate parking on the street even though we have a bicycle path running behind our homes. All in an effort to increase walking, bicycling, etc. on a street that has no commercial storefronts.

From my perspective this will cause the following things for me and my neighbors: Smaller lots, loss of trees and shrubs, front yards that are all asphalt or cement or whatever, no parking for more than one car or guests or visitors and loss of property value.

Come on Little City planners and Council People – what were you thinking? Did you actually think we would agree to this?

Lorraine ORourke

Falls Church

Credit Former Council Members For BJ’s Success


Regarding BJ’s. Let’s get the record straight. In February of 2008, BJ’s was diligently pursued by the Council to settle in the City. The deal was finalized in October 2008. The Council in 2006-08 and continuing to 2010 aggressively went out to “sell” The City of Falls Church to developers; Commercial, Mixed-use and Affordable housing.

Cutting the ribbon, when BJ’s opened in the fall of 2011 is an honor. But, it does not diminish the work of former Council members for their vested work and best interest to get revenue to the City of Falls Church.

We honor our City staff, all the citizens who spend their time on Boards, Commissions, City Council, and other volunteer positions in our City.

Some on the current Council should seriously look at their accomplishment. Cutting City employees, reducing pay, denying fair compensation, demoralizing the City staff and not bringing in one single iota of revenue to the City. That is not managing the City. Their accomplishment has actually been negative and minus on the checks and balancing scale. In hard times you have to cut, but you certainly have to also build and bring in more revenue and have a vision.

I have lived in this city for 24 years, and can certainly see disingenuous claims.

Vote May 1.

Elisabeth Drangel Sze

Falls Church

Maller Assails Mayor’s Claims of Achievements


Fellow citizens, please exercise your voting rights on Tuesday. We have seven candidates offering a diverse array of talent, experience and perspective to confront the challenges that face our City. While many of us differ on the choices we will make, we should celebrate a campaign largely based on facts and logical arguments.

During the current campaign I and many of those who have been engaged, particularly Mr. Sze and Mr. Lippman, have been struck by what we would charitably call the “creation of a parallel narrative” regarding important parts of the record of Mayor Nader Baroukh in particular. While Baroukh maintains he is fully supportive of economic development (or even affordable housing), his record as we experienced it during our Council tenure was far different. For example, Baroukh (and John Lawrence) strongly opposed the [~40% commercial] City Center South project, which ultimately was approved by a unanimous City Council after many years of community process and full and constructive engagement with the developer and landowners.

On the Council, Baroukh deliberately and skillfully used all of the tools at his disposal to delay the City Center project, which contributed significantly to its unraveling once the Recession hit. The Mayor can talk about supporting motherhood and apple pie, but when you receive your tax bills you can thank Mr. Baroukh (and Mr. Lawrence who continued to fight the project from his post on the Planning Commission) for 5-10¢ of your tax bill which could have been reduced from the revenues the project would have brought.

BJ’s, for which Baroukh repeatedly claims credit, was largely accomplished by the efforts of City Staff guided by the previous council, its Economic Development Committee (Mr. Snyder, Sze and myself) and the EDA (notably including Mr. Tarter); the best I can say of Baroukh’s participation was that he did not use his normal array of tactics to delay or destroy it.

I respect and encourage your right to reach your own conclusions, but I sincerely hope you will consider not just what the candidates say but what they have done.

Dan Maller

Former F.C. City Councilman

Former Planners Back Lawrence For F.C. Council


The City needs some planning experience on City Council. John Lawrence has served on the Planning Commission since 2007 and was Chairman for two years. He understands the development process from conceptual plan to site plan. He knows how to take the realities of the marketplace and reconcile them with the goals of the City. He has the wisdom to know when to say yes and the courage to say no. He knows the economics of development and won’t be asking for unreasonable contributions from developers, yet will negotiate fairly to get the best deal for the City. He knows how to apply the Comprehensive Plan, and has a grasp of the principles of sound, appropriate, and sustainable development.

We urge you to vote for John Lawrence for City Council May 1.

Maureen Budetti, Rob Meeks, Marty Meserve, Sally Phillips, Rob Puentes and Christine Sanders

Former F.C. Planning Commissioners

Snyder Commends Henneberg + His Tax Cutting Goals


This is to request that citizens give serious consideration to City Council candidate William Henneberg. Throughout the campaign, he has demonstrated he has a fresh approach to City issues and an excellent strategic vision. As importantly, among the candidates, he has shown the greatest concern for all of the taxpayers, whether they are individuals, families or businesses, by strongly supporting cutting the tax rate.

David Snyder

Vice Mayor, Falls Church

Lawrence Webb Only Empathic Foe of ‘Citizens United’


We have joined a growing number of citizens throughout the country to support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision. Three state legislatures, 1,000 elected officials, and more than 150 cities and towns have already expressed support. We would like Falls Church to be the first city in Virginia to join this effort.

Accordingly, we polled the seven City Council candidates, asking them whether they would support a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment establishing that corporations are not persons and that money is not speech. Each responded, as follows:

•Lawrence Webb is in favor, and encouraged us “to bring this issue to the council during public comment so that the conversation can begin on this very important topic.”

•William Henneberg is undecided, but stated “if such a resolution came up for Council to consider, I would be sure to do what is in the best interest of the people of Falls Church.”

•Philip Duncan said, “I certainly would be willing to confer with my Council colleagues and the City Attorney about considering the Move to Amend proposal.”

•Nader Baroukh is undecided.

•John Lawrence is undecided, but is “hoping that the recent Montana Supreme Court challenge to Citizens United prompts a reconsideration by the US Supreme Court in light of how pernicious that ruling has been in the intervening years.”

•Dave Tarter has no position.

•Paul Handly offers a “resounding ‘undecided’ for now with a promise to read up on the issue further so that I can contribute to the debate.”

As we build support for bringing a resolution before the City Council, we encourage other residents of Falls Church to join us.

Robert Crowe and Brian Siebel

Falls Church

Either Believe In Legal Process, Or You Don’t


There’s quite a contrast between FCNP cheering – correctly! – the outcome of Continuing Episcopalians’ litigation and mourning – still crying victim – the outcome of Falls Church Water’s legal follies. You can’t have it both ways – either you believe in the legal process or you don’t. In fact, from my viewpoint, both matters were decided correctly.

There’s also a nasty difference in how you cover those disputes: quoting at length the side you favor, and quoting minimally or not at all the other side.

When will you actually demonstrate FCNP Platform #2: “Play no favorites”?

Gabe Goldberg

Falls Church