Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: It’s Time for the Little City to Think Big

It’s time for us to think bigger about what is possible in Falls Church and take action to make those things happen. It can be hard to imagine a big thing when we are stuck in the daily slog of traffic, taxes and tests. But by working together, our community can achieve big things right here in the Little City. and I am committed to making that happen.

I am running for City Council because I can envision a bright future for Falls Church. I want to connect area businesses, our schools and the many community organizations and residents I work with every day to create a united front that will make my vision for a better city a reality. And that vision starts with growth.

Here in the heart of Northern Virginia, growth is all around us. At our borders and our crossroads, growth is spilling over into the traffic, school buses, classrooms and story hour at Mary Riley Styles Library. When growth seems out of control, it can be scary.

But not all growth is bad. We cheer when a baby grows between check-ups, when a tree grows to shade a house or when tomatoes grow in a garden. I believe growth in Falls Church is also something to celebrate.

Growth unarguably comes with costs. As our children grow, care and feeding become more expensive. A growing tree requires maintenance. Tomatoes don’t require much – just a neighbor to share them. Cities also experience growing pains, including traffic, overcrowding, tapped resources, increasing taxes, and not knowing all your neighbors (unless you share your tomatoes). But with growth we also discover new opportunities.

Growth in Falls Church means we are welcoming new residents and making friends. We are shopping at new businesses. We are walking to restaurants and meeting friends after school or in the evening, in our own neighborhood!

For the first time in more than 60 years, the City of Falls Church has an opportunity to grow physically. Approving the water utility referendum on November’s ballot will expand the City boundaries, annexing the land next to the West Falls Church Metro stop, close to I-66 and Route 7. Two schools and the Falls Church property yard are already on that land, and we “own” it as a property owner. Passing the referendum will also allow us to govern it.

You can read all about the referendum at www.fallschurchva.gov. Here’s why I’m supporting it: Seventy percent of the land we receive will be reserved for educational purposes. We can decide what kind of school we want to build on the land, what we want our campus to look like, and how we want to use the site. We won’t have to change the blueprints, alter traffic patterns or deal with delays while we wait for approval from the Fairfax County Planning Commission.

Better still, we can do whatever we want with the other 30 percent of that land. Do we want class A commercial buildings with retail and restaurants? Do we want a place to draw a crowd day and night? Do we want a skating rink. a pool or a movie theater? If we vote yes on the referendum, the choice is ours.

Like our kids, that tree in the front yard and the tomato plant that stretches over the fence: this current growth is just the beginning of good things to come. Carefully planned commercial development, concentrated near the Metro, will bring in revenue on a scale we haven’t seen before. It will subsidize that state-of-the-art high school where more students than we could have imagined 10 years ago will be attending classes. Proximity to the Metro will alleviate traffic. It will bring visitors and employees from the entire region. It will help us curb taxes so that our long-time residents aren’t priced out of the City. It will help us fund our schools, our streets, our stormwater system and our pension obligations. In short, it will keep our city strong.

I hope I’ve inspired you to join me in voting “Yes” on the referendum. It is the very last question, don’t skip it. And while you’re in the voting booth, I hope you will vote for me for City Council and join me in making my vision of a bigger and better Falls Church a reality.


Marybeth Connelly is running for election to the Falls Church City Council in November.