Letters to the Editor: March 5 – 11, 2015
We Need to Fix the F.C. Library, Not Move It
The general public needs to be aware that their favorite library is falling apart. Heating and air conditioning are a constant problem. The plumbing is grossly deficient, more lighting efficiency is needed, the electrical and data service must be upgraded, the elevator is over-age-in-grade and the aisles, stairways, halls, shelving and restrooms are all non-American Disability Act compliant. If we do nothing, we will soon be faced with a series of large bills for replacements and repairs. Thus, the Library Board now has a plan in the Capital Improvement Projects that has been recommended by the Planning Commission to the City Council for approval.
Comments were made about this plan at the March 2 work session on Mason Row, with respect to a Council suggestion that the library be moved to Mason Row, and I have severe reservations about some of what was said about the library during the discussion.
First, I have sympathy for the view that we should build for the long term. The Library Board tried that approach with its raze-and-rebuild plan which was turned down by the Planning Commission for lack of parking and expense (at $16 – 18 million).
Second, a modern-design new building might be nice but would it be Falls Church? No. Besides, the suggestion to move to Mason Row is like putting a square peg in a round hole: not a good fit, and not in the right place.
Third, the comments that the Board’s CIP plan could not produce a modern info-age library are wrong and almost insulting. The Library Board and its library architect consultant would never countenance a structure that did not enable full implementation of the info-age library. The Board’s plan will permit us to take advantage of all aspects of the information net and to be in a position to follow up on trends that we see coming in library management.
The $8.4 million plan is not unduly expensive since we would wind up with an essentially new, more efficient, larger work space. Further, this should serve us for at least the 20 years that the senior principal of Mason Row said would be the time for renovations in his development. These remarks are strictly personal, not Library Board policy.
Chester W. De Long
Mary Riley Styles Library is Not Overcrowded
Each time I visit the library, usually in the evening, I think with puzzlement at the rumor – no, the assessment of paid consultants– that the library is too small! My experience is the opposite: it’s a quite uncrowded state that I usually find. (When the internet was down recently for a week, there were as many staff as patrons.) Yet, “it is already overcrowded” was the consultants’ assessment; amazing!
I do concur in the objection to the predatory towing that can occur in the area. Perhaps instead of expending millions of dollars on a gratuitous library, there could be a less costly arrangement to use some of the adjacent parking of the 300 Park Ave building – which is already used for farmers market parking (despite still having signs that expressly forbid this! And some letter here suggested that we have better signage?)
It’s Time to Rein In F.C. School Funding
Regarding the schools funding, I offer the following statistics:
1.The student population in FY 2011 was 2,087; in FY 2015, the students totaled 2,455. This is a compounded increase of 4.1%/year.
2.The dollar transfer from the City to the schools was $27,435,800 in FY 2011; in FY 2015, the transfer was $36,746,200. This is a compounded increase of 7.6%/year.
3.The taxes on our home (including the recent storm water fee tax) were $7,880 in 2011 and will be $9,731 in 2015 (if there is no increase in the tax rate). This is a compounded increase of 5.4%/year.
Citizens have a right to expect that, over time, their taxes increase no faster than their income, whether they are retired or employed. With the obvious largesse shown to the schools by the above figures, it’s time to rein them in, give them no larger percentage increase than the enrollment and not increase the tax rate but reduce it.
After Assessment Rise, F.C. Should Lower Tax Rate
Now that the News-Press has disclosed the happy news that our property values are not only high but the growth rate this year exceeded that of neighboring communities, perhaps the City may consider lowering the rate. I doubt anyone wants to diminish the city budget but a small fractional decrease could relieve the taxpayers while still giving the city the funds it needs.
Henry J. Gordon
Treasuring the Memory of Kennedy St. Couple
I write this letter in tribute to Magda and Vincent Boylan, who passed away recently within three weeks of each other. To me, Mr. and Mrs. Boylan exemplify the kind of responsibility and kindness to community that we all should strive to emulate.
Residents, since 1954, of Kennedy Street where they raised their four sons, they set a tone of hospitable neighborliness that we on Kennedy strive to continue today.
In the years when our own children were growing up, Mr. Boylan often would remark on the joy it gave him to hear the neighborhood children playing. I know to pass that same sentiment on to the new family next door to us now.
Their devotion to each other and their family was fundamental and exemplary.
Many may know of their service to their community – such as her work for the League of Women Voters, his on the City’s Planning Commission. Well read and informed, they were thoughtful, compassionate, and dedicated in their politics, from the local to the national level. In retirement, they continued to be active learners, often traveling abroad for classes. Mr. Boylan obtained a master’s from George Mason University, becoming its oldest graduate.
I value the memory of their kindness, intelligence, commitment to duty, and delightful sense of humor.
I’m sure Mr. Boylan’s service in WWII entitled him to full honors at Arlington Cemetery but he and his wife chose to remain at the corner of Kennedy Street in Falls Church. It gives me comfort to know they return to the neighborhood where they spent much of their lives together, raised their family, and set the tone of good citizenship and neighborliness that we still profit from and seek to maintain. I am sure I speak for many others in our community that their memory will be treasured with deep admiration and affection.
Cecilia Op de Beke
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