Population, Economic Growth Words Included in Draft Vision

Paul Stoddard, principal planner for the City of Falls Church. (News-Press photo)
Paul Stoddard, principal planner for the City of Falls Church. (News-Press photo)

“The elegant simplicity” in the last sentence of the City of Falls Church’s draft new “vision statement” is how F.C. City Councilman Phil Duncan described it at Monday’s City Council meeting. The sentence in the short statement seemed to draw the most attention as the Council reviewed the long history that’s gone into crafting the new words.

It credits “a growing population and economy,” for making possible the community’s investments in its core values.

F.C. Principal Planner Paul Stoddard affirmed that the placement of that sentence was considered both important for acknowledging reality, and self-evident.

The entire draft vision statement component of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, which has been the subject of so much discussion and appeals for public input from City Hall, reads as follows:

“In the year 2040, the City of Falls Church is an independent, walkable small city within the Northern Virginia region. Through all the changes, the City celebrates its history and community character and invests in its neighborhoods, schools and natural environment. These community investments are made possible by a growing population and economy.”

In terms of the extensive “visioning process” to date, inclusive since June 17 of two community meetings, a school town hall, four “pop up” discussions around town, and a survey with 472 respondents, at least four steps in the process are planned before a projected final adoption next February. The Planning Commission will review it on Nov. 7, the City Council will tackle it again at a Nov. 21 work session, the Planning Commission will have its final review and recommendation in January, and the Council its final review and adoption in February.

At this Monday’s review session, Council member Letty Hardi suggested that the wording “needs a little more oomph” in its expressiveness of goals for 25 years ahead, and Council member Karen Oliver criticized the draft statement for its failure to mention “people.”

While the list of “core values” accompanying the draft vision statement include a reference to “diversity/housing and social sustainability,” there was a marked lack of reference to these issues in the vision statement, itself.

Purporting that “a wide range of family types, cultures and generations, ethnic and cultural diversity, a diverse housing stock for all income levels and new housing harmonious in scale to existing neighborhoods” are the elements of a “core value” focusing on diversity and housing, the topic ranged at the lowest end of civic concerns as derived from the public input to date.

At the highest end of “core values,” Stoddard said, is “community character and urban form,” inclusive of goals to be “a vibrant and thriving place with community involvement and spirit, an attractive balance of uses with cohesive architecture and urban design, historic preservation, and revitalization districts at a human scale with a pedestrian orientation, mixed use through development and substantial investment into the arts.”

“Economic sustainability” as a “core value” includes “a flourishing commercial base, regional attractions, clustered office, shops and restaurants, public-private collaboration, a skilled labor force, public gathering places for cultural events and a tourism economy.”

The education “core value” involves “high quality public facilities, continued academic excellence, a focus on social and cultural activities, higher education services and resources, the input of new ideas from the region and with the City library as an integral component.”

In terms of transportation, the “core values” include “high accessibility across the City, public and private transportation alternatives, with linkages connecting public transit, paths and bikeways, improved air quality, and affirming regional cooperation and solutions.”

Including “environmental sustainability” as a “core value,” involves the “protection, preservation and restoration” in the community, recognizing “trees as a valued resources, development that respects natural topography, stream restoration, improved stream water quality, a network of trails and greenways, energy efficiency and recreation and sports planning.”

In terms of “public health and safety,” the “core values” include “ample opportunity for physical activity, access to fresh local foods, low crime rates, a responsive police force and access to quality health care.”

Finally, “good and responsive government” as a “core value” involves fiscal responsibility, accessible and responsive public servants, and lots of volunteer opportunities with openness and transparency.”