Letters to the Editor: October 8 – 14, 2015
Development Should Enhance Livability in F.C.
In response to the recent guest commentary, I think that Mr. McCommons missed the whole point on comments from residents who are concerned with the rapid development of the City. What some citizens are suggesting –including myself – is a slower, sustainable, thoroughly thought out and transparent development process, the final outcome of which is an improved and attractive town which maintains some aspect of its “small town” feeling. Development yes, but not at the price of becoming another Corporate America town.
Harris Teeter is a prime example of what shouldn’t be done; it’s just too massive for its location and frankly an eyesore. Couldn’t the design be more aesthetically pleasing? nothing catches the eye except for its monolithic structure.
Suggestions for a more attractive city?
In my opinion, more green community spaces, water features, outdoor art, playgrounds, dog parks. Continue to expand the trees along Broad street, which creates shade and encourages walking.
Design new buildings that are attractive and smaller in size, but even before that let’s have impact studies on existing buildings to see what consequences these will have on our schools, traffic, budget, taxes, water; will are old underground water pipes keep up with the pace of 1,000 more water users? Besides the approved 700 apartment units two more mixed use projects are at City Hall; 300 West Broad Street and 819 W. Broad Street for a total of 225 new apartment units.
Keep and attract owner managed smaller unique little treasures like Brits on Broad, The Local Market, Clare and Don’s and many others; these will soon be gone if we keep development at the pace we are going. The substantially higher rents of these new buildings will no longer be feasible for small shops and they will be eventually replaced with chain stores that can support much higher rental fees.
Let’s forgo whirlwind development in exchange for a well thought-out longer term plan that enhances the “livability” factor of Falls Church City.
City’s EDO Numbers Aren’t Meaningful
Let us put to bed the notion that the numbers from the Economic Development Office, oft-cited in the News Press and now by developers, are meaningful. They are not.
At a Council meeting two weeks ago, Ira Kaylin, former Council member and well-respected analyst of the City’s finances, asked that office’s material be taken down from the City’s website. His argument, supported by other economic experts in the City, is that as presented, the City document “Mixed Use Development: A Model that More than Pays for Itself” is erroneous and misleading. The conclusions reached in that document have been used by one member of the Economic Development Authority, Mr. Robert Young, in a paid advertisement in the Falls Church News-Press. Regrettably, neither Mr. Young, nor members of Council and senior staff, looked beyond the numbers to ascertain whether the conclusions were reasonable.
One wonders why the value of single family homes are expressed in one calculus (tax revenue per home) and six recent mixed use developments expressed in another (pupil ratio over total tax, including commercial revenue). This oddly skewed methodology seems to be comparing apples with oranges. The document also states that the turnover of single family homes as new families with children move in has been the primary factor underlying the rapid rise in students in recent years, a claim which school system data flatly contradicts. As one resident suggested to me, if taken to its logical end, the Economic Development Office’s paper would lead to the conclusion that the best financial outcome for the City would be to bulldoze all the single family houses and have the City build solar arrays perhaps surrounded by a forest, on all the newly available land.
Making Spring St. 2-Way is a Tragedy Waiting to Happen
As a parishioner of St. James and a resident of the City, I am outraged that the City is even considering making Spring Street a two-way street.
You have entire classes of small children going across Spring Street on a daily basis, both to church and to the playground on Broad Street. Mason Row, along with all the other fast-tracked development in the City, will increase traffic on this street ten fold.
This is a tragedy waiting to happen.
If the City Council does not care about the safety of elementary school children, perhaps thinking about the liability will change their minds.
Beyer Should Practice What He Preaches
I want to praise Don Beyer for his brave stance on forming the “Men for Women” coalition to remedy gender inequality. It will be sad to see him resigning so soon after coming into office, but that is the only conclusion one can reach after reading his lament that 80% of congress is men.
We can only hope that the female successor he names to replace him will serve with as much integrity, but his taking personal action will speak volumes about how deeply he believes in what he preaches.
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