Letters to the Editor: January 17 – 23, 2013

 ‘Letter’ to FCNP on F.C. Police Was Inaccurate


In the Jan. 3-9 edition of the News-Press, a letter from Ms. Kerri Anton of Burke presented a number of inaccuracies and misinformation about the City Police Department. I want to encourage her and anyone else to contact me at city-manager@fallschurchva.gov whenever they have feedback on City services. The City of Falls Church Police Department is an invaluable part of our community and enjoys an outstanding reputation in the region.

The Falls Church Police Department is fully accredited by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission with high marks from the assessors. The Commission report states that members of the Department “serve their community exceptionally well … and display the invaluable characteristics of integrity and commitment to professionalism.” The high praise is well deserved.

School safety is a high priority for the Department. The Department collaborates with the schools on a daily basis and supports the School Board and PTSA’s requests for help in providing a safe environment for students, teachers, and staff.

The letter referenced search warrants and arrests for illegal gambling operations in August 2011, and the ensuing reaction from members of the Vietnamese Community. Complaints of illegal gambling activity originated within Vietnamese community as victims reported losing their life savings. The investigations were conducted by the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force, comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The City is fortunate to have the resources of the Task Force and will continue to enforce the law fairly and impartially. The Police Department continues its long history of working with the Vietnamese community to address concerns.

Recently retired Chief Harry Reitze provided wise and strong leadership for the Department, and he would be the first to claim that all the success of the department comes from the high quality of its front line professional officers. Chief Mary Gavin has earned tremendous respect within the department, among our colleagues in the region, and from the community we serve and I look forward to her leadership of the Falls Church Police Department for years to come.

Wyatt Shield

City Manager, City of Falls Church


Surplus Could Have Been Handy For Other Needs


I can recall that not so very long ago, a number of Falls Church residents were indignant that our city was sitting on a massive surplus of funds. The schools had discovered that they must have money for new computers. Others claimed that tax payers should be reimbursed what was left over from the surplus. The editor of the Falls Church News-Press was conspicuous among those who demanded those actions. After a few weeks of heated discussion, these disbursements were made.

Now we discover that perhaps a portion of that vanished surplus might have come in handy in regard to payments to the Virginia Retirement System and the Storm Water Fund.

It would be fitting for Mr. Benton to review some of his earlier statements regarding the now vanished surplus, rather than to point an accusing finger at City Council Members for what he perceives to be their lack of financial foresight.

The line from the book of Mathew may cover this situation: “First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Peter Markham

Falls Church


Ways Impervious Surfaces Grow In Falls Church


The City of Falls Church storm water infrastructure is overwhelmed. As the News-Press has reported, local taxpayers might soon be facing an annual bill for management of storm water runoff of $4 million. If so, this will be an un-forecast and unwelcomed new tax bill.

Storm water runoff is simply a result of impervious surfaces, such as driveways and roofs. Of course, more impervious surface results in more runoff. There is a curious local practice that is increasing the impervious surface area in Falls Church City. A contractor (or any one of us, for that matter) can buy an existing home, raze the structure, subdivide the lot into “substandard” lots, and then declare that s/he can no longer agree to “reasonably combine” the property back to what it was. (Substandard lots are not normally “buildable.”) At that point, s/he may receive variances to build houses on these substandard lots. You can see where this is going: Adding houses adds to the City’s impermeable surface area, which results in more overloading of the storm water management system.

Will taxpayers be digging deeper to enhance the income of a privileged few? Are citizens handed storm water flooding and another tax burden, while the money flows out-of-town?

Jim Custer

Falls Church


News-Press Article On School CIP Plan Was Misleading


Your article “F.C. Schools CIP Has Mt. Daniel Relocation Option” was misleading when it implied that moving Mt. Daniel to the City Hall site was included in the school Capital Improvement Plan. Although our CIP says that we should “explore” a new school site, what is in the CIP is more than $6 million for an expansion of Mt. Daniel, starting next year.

This needs to be clarified because the idea that we would spend $6 million to renovate and add to a school that we then intended to move (i.e, demolish) would be the height of fiscal folly. The possibility of studying a move (and many other facilities ideas) is simply one thought in a nearly 200-page facilities study. A move is not in our CIP.

John Lawrence

Falls Church


Poor Traffic Engineering on Broad Street


I have to weigh in on the commentary on Broad St. traffic. I don’t know the design of the study that purported to find no increase in traffic, but I use the eyeball test. I lived in the City for 10 years, at the Lee Square Apts. I was away for 3 years and recently moved back to Lee Square, and there is noticeably more traffic on Broad now for more parts of the day than there was 3-4 years ago, because, guess what, many more businesses have opened on Broad Street and they are trying to attract customers, not all of whom live in the City. I like the walkability, but I don’t work in the City, so I have to get out of my apt complex every morning by making a left onto Broad, and I can tell you, I sometimes sit there for three or four minutes.

The traffic engineering on Broad St. is very poor, in my opinion. There aren’t even left-turn arrows at the signals, let alone left turn lanes in the central stretch of Broad. Signals have been placed in puzzling locations: two within a block, then not one for six or seven blocks. Timing of the signals is not conducive to the Lee Square residents, more than 100 apartments worth, getting a break in traffic to get out. Entrances to businesses are almost directly across from each other, so if one car in each direction is trying to turn left, traffic for blocks comes to a standstill.

Frankly, the constant obsession with getting more businesses to open has overcome any kind of common sense or thought given to making Broad Street function as a road. It’s great that I can walk to Cosi or the library on my day off. But there are far more residents than city jobs, and the businesses of course want a broader customer base than the people who can walk to them.

Broad St. traffic is a mess, “study” results to the contrary.

Chris Raymond

Falls Church


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