Letters to the Editor: July 7 – 13, 2016
Urging Support for F.C. Library Renovation
The City Council will be voting on July 25 whether to put on the November ballot an item authorizing an $8.7 million bond issue for renovation and expansion of the Mary Riley Styles Public Library. There is reportedly some sentiment on the Council for delaying this bond referendum by one year. We say no! It is crucial that the citizens get a chance to vote on this referendum in 2016.
Our library is one of this city’s most popular institutions. But it is badly in need of help. The existing building was constructed in 1958 and last renovated in 1992. Today its antiquated systems are costing the city unnecessary extra expense in maintenance. There is no room for additional materials and for the new technology we need. The program space is inadequate; when 140 students show up for reading time, the library is delighted, but barely has space to accommodate them. Much of the structure is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Why should we wait another year? The City Council and Planning Commission have already approved $8 million for the library in the capital budget for the year beginning July 2017. If there is no authorization vote this year, that money cannot be spent and planning and design cannot begin, until a year later. A year wasted.
We, the members of the board of the Mary Riley Styles Library Foundation, urge concerned citizens to tell the City Council to allow us a vote this year. The City is likely to hold a town meeting before that time. We urge friends of the library to come to that event – as well as the Council meeting on July 25 – to express support for the library and for its renovation and expansion.
Donald Camp, Deane Dierksen, John Rodock, Ed Rose III
Library Foundation Board
Will City Try to Take More Than Just the Fellows Property?
I must echo the sentiments of your reader who was stunned that the City of Falls Church was considering taking the Fellows property by eminent domain.
I am a new renter in the neighborhood – so I have no dog in this hunt. However, I took a walk so I could see for myself the property that is so desirable that it needs to be taken from a senior citizen by the government.
Contrary to reporting by this newspaper, the Fellows property is not “adjacent” to Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. It is across Oak Street, a somewhat busy neighborhood thoroughfare. While it faces Oak Street, a large portion of the property faces Fellows Court – aptly and historically named for a long-time property owner. There are five other houses on Fellows Court – and their property is contiguous to the Fellows property. Perhaps their property might also be up for grabs? Or maybe the homes behind (and contiguous to) the Fellows property facing Parker Ave. should also be snatched?
Or maybe the three or four lovely properties that actually are adjacent to the school and on the same block – between the school and Seaton Lane – would be the most sensible to take via eminent domain, as then, school children would not have to cross Oak Street as they go back and forth between the Fellows property and the main office/playing fields? Why are these homeowners’ properties immune from being seized? Walk or drive by, neighbors, and see for yourself.
It appears that the city is considering taking the easiest route – initiating eminent domain proceedings against a senior citizen who likely would not have the resources to vigorously defend the action in court.
Shame on you, City of Falls Church.
Fairfax Meals Tax Will Help With Fiscal Shortfall
In the June 8 News-Press Letters to the Editor, Mr. Natoli flames Fairfax supervisors for putting meals tax referendum on the ballot, blaming them for “the fiscal shortfall that they themselves have created.” He might read Supervisor Gross’ column in the same issue to (re)learn that with Virginia a Dillon Rule state, the county can’t do anything the legislature doesn’t specifically allow. For the last several years, with county funding largely and unavoidably based on property taxes, Fairfax has struggled to meet basic requirements such as supporting schools, public safety, human services, libraries and everything else citizens expect. Has he read about measures taken to economize? And where services/facilities have been painfully squeezed? What, exactly, does he think should have been done – within what’s possible, of course? – to prevent the shortfall he criticizes?
Like it or not, the meals tax is simply one of the few ways available for Fairfax to broaden revenue sources and reduce reliance on property taxes. Since so many nearby jurisdictions have both meals tax and vibrant restaurant choices, strident doom-saying meals tax opponents aren’t credible. But having served on the county’s meals tax committee, it’s clear to me that the measure will only pass with a concerted effort supporting it.
Residents Should Trim Plants Blocking Views of Traffic
There is a safety concern in Falls Church City that impacts anyone who lives, drives, walks, or bikes in the area. At several intersections, trees and/or bushes block clear views of cross traffic, and drivers are required to unsafely enter the intersection in order to see approaching cars. Similarly, some driveways have high bushes that extend to the sidewalk, making it impossible for pedestrians to see if a car is pulling out of the driveway without entering the driveway itself. Logic would also dictate that a car pulling out of the driveway would not be able to see pedestrians who are about to cross its path.
I encourage all citizens to inspect your property to see if any of your plantings need to be trimmed in order to allow for safe line-of-sight at street and driveway intersections. If you are a pedestrian, biker, or driver, please take extra care when approaching such intersections.
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