Another marathon meeting, this time held open to the public, saw the Falls Church City Council and School Board hammer out some final modifications to the “request for proposal” that is scheduled to be sent out later this week to prospective developers of the City’s near 40 acres of land that it annexed from Fairfax County which includes the City’s high and middle schools.
Among the issues that were resolved at Monday’s joint Council School Board work session were ones pertaining to how far the request for proposal, or RFP, would go to specify that, no matter what, the final plan would be subject to a public referendum, mostly likely in November 2016, and language around the commercial development component of the project, indicating a preference for commercial but not written in stone, so to speak.
Council member Phil Duncan led the persuasive arguments on that one, that the RFP should allow the developers to indicate to the City and its schools what the market will bear in the potential mix of office, retail, hotel and residential components.
Going forward now, the prospective developers will have until 2 p.m. on October 30 to submit their proposals and will have until 2 p.m. on Sept. 23 to submit questions and requests for clarifications.
Some Council members tonight hoped the RFP could be worded in a way to irrevocably commit the City to a referendum on the project, whether formally a bond referendum or not. But the Council was advised City Attorney Carol McCoskrie that the RFP is not the right place to signal public policy, but must have sufficient legal protections for the City so that the issue of a referendum would remain somewhat flexible. She said that the Council would better indicate its resolve for a public referendum in a separate resolution that could be adopted later.