Local Commentary

Editorial: Spruce Up the City Downtown NOW!

This has been only 20 years in the making. It was about 1995 when this newspaper first editorialized about the need for inexpensive improvements to the intersection of Routes 7 and 29 that could have a transformative effect to, among other things, direct the attention of patrons of the State Theatre down toward the 7/29 intersection and the restaurants around there.

Nothing changed despite the periodically repetitive editorial appeals to doing this. Meanwhile, patrons from the State, who often topped 700 on a single night, coming from everywhere in the wider D.C. region, if they did venture down toward the Ireland’s Four Provinces, Dogwood or other restaurants, did so at their peril, risking a nasty trip or stumble along the ragged and downright sketchy sidewalk.

So, pardon us if we think that the current City plan for spend $533,417 on just the kind of sprucing up we’ve been advocating for 20 years is, well, better late than never.

The opportunity is to make a big difference with a little money, and with something that can be done right away.

The Little City can explode in the consciousness of all the one million people who travel through the Route 7 and 29 intersection every month by the identification of a signal art piece right off the intersection, in the large brick-covered open space that serves as an entrance to the interior George Mason Square.

We propose a gushing fountain that people can sit around, a replica of the wonderful Bethesda Foundation in New York’s Central Park, except that the statue in its middle of this one should be of whichever City Councilman’s vote is required to achieve the majority required. (That was a joke, wasn’t it?)
There is also $18,000 in the City’s kitty somewhere set aside for a clock, which could be hung over the top of the 7 and 29 intersection. Or, the whole intersection could be paved in the form of a giant compass, and allow for a periodic four-way pedestrian walk space.

We propose the City conduct a contest to decide what to put on that intersection to best identify it to the wider region as the Center of the City of Falls Church. “Oh, now we’re in Falls Church!” This is what we want everyone to exclaim when they get to that intersection, for their friends, visitors from out of town, and everyone.

Let’s do this without delay. The City has the money and it will take only one vote from the Council to authorize it. The worst thing now would be to get tangled in a bunch of tedious negotiations with local businesses, or whatever, to try to extract a few nominal coins from them.

The plans are already developed, except for the art contest, with a doable timeline of nine months. Let’s have it all ready for Watch Night next New Year’s Eve. After all, the City got its tree lights up in no time last month.