Local Commentary

Editorial: ‘Mason Row’ is a Very Good Idea

There is a clear calculus operating here that does not require degrees in rocket science to figure out. It goes something like this: If you want quality schools then you have to support aggressive commercial development that will pay for them.

It is our sense that most residents of Falls Church get this, but they are not the ones who are throwing up a loud fuss at City Hall. To oppose an amazingly lucrative project like the proposed “Mason Row” at the intersection of W. Broad and N. West streets, and then to turn around and complain about high taxes or the need to maintain quality schools (so that, if nothing else, residential property values don’t plunge by 20 percent), simply makes no sense whatsoever.

But that doesn’t stop some noisy people from feeling they’re entitled to be against the “Mason Row” project, for example, and high taxes, while all the same time claiming they’re for quality schools. The math simply doesn’t add up.

It is frustrating to us, observing this process, that more City officials don’t come right out and confront the nonsense by saying, as mama said, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too!”

The Falls Church public that we see is hopping up and down in favor of what the 4.3-acre “Mason Row” will bring. First and foremost it will bring enormous new tax revenues to help pay for the things the City needs and thereby to keep the tax rate down. Second, it will add some class to the City with more nice restaurants, a hotel and eight-screen movie complex. Third, it will bring down the City’s age demographic, with the rental apartments designed to appeal to the kind of younger, more energetic professionals that Arlington has attracted.

(And fourth, in a proposal that is now apparently being withdrawn, we also were enamored of the plan that space for at least a portion of the City’s library be relocated at the “Mason Row” site, easing the pressure on renovating the existing library space including paying an exorbitant cost for a new parking deck there that the City Council, once again, began choking on this last Monday. It was noted that the plan for the parking deck at the existing library location would cost an outrageous $75,000 per net new parking spot.)

One citizen at the Council meeting this Monday night, taking a fresh and unpolluted look at the options for the City’s capital improvement projects, quite reasonably pointed out that it might make more sense to combine the parking deck planned for the library and one planned for City Hall across the street instead of having them separate.

Omigosh, that’s so simple, once you get outside the internal maze of assuaging all the preferences and prejudices of volunteer bureaucrats who think that simply by having been appointed to a little commission, that they’re entitled to having things their way.