Local Commentary

Editorial: Vote ‘Yes’ on the Library Referendum

Editor’s Note: The print edition of this week’s News-Press includes an error in the first paragraph of this editorial, putting the word “now” where the word “no” belongs.

Readers who put the two front page stories in this edition together and take them as a whole, are likely to arrive at the same conclusion as we have. With the promise of a veritable gold mine at the City’s West End, this is no time to think small with respect to one of the most useful and storied institutions in the City of Falls Church.

Yes, Falls Church can readily afford the modest $8.7 million in important renovations and expansions at its Mary Riley Styles Public Library and we urge citizens to vote “Yes” on the library bond referendum on the November ballot here.

If the City plays its cards right, and listens to the likes of its new prime developer, Todd Hitt of Kiddar Capital, it can turn the property at its West End acquired and annexed into the City from the sale of its water system in January 2014, into the kind of bonanza that would result in significantly lower taxes for City residents in the future.

Finally, the City has someone with a vision for that land that recognizes something akin to its full potential, and the best part is that this is a person who puts his money, and his developer skills, where his mouth is.

For our part, we’ve been beating the drum for realizing the potential in that land since our founding 25 years ago. Anyone who has purchased a copy of our 25th anniversary publication of our front pages from our first five years, 1991-1996, will see that our proposal for a major public venue there – we proposed a minor league ballpark at the time – was based on the assessment by F.C.’s City Manager at the time, David Lasso, that by its proximity to the West Falls Church Metro station, the land is “perhaps the most valuable on the entire eastern seaboard.”

But the land was always in Fairfax County, making for a major impediment for what we’ll now call, “Big Thinking in the Little City.” That changed with the annexation of that land to come under the City of Falls Church’s jurisdictional authority. Cooperation with the county will still be required, but the ball is clearly now in Falls Church’s court.

With the highest percentage of residents here holding college and post-graduate degrees of any jurisdiction in the entire U.S., it is eminently appropriate that the West End be developed as a full-blown educational center involving not only Falls Church’s George Mason High School, but also the Northern Virginia Graduate Center of the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech, other schools, and a major influx of education-related businesses and entities.

In that context, a modest upgrade of the City’s only public library is apropos and, more than that, essential to serve the needs of the entire community, including the many senior citizens who live within easy walking distance at Winter Hill and at the Kensington now under construction.