Local Commentary

Editorial: F.C.’s 2017 Challenge: ‘Don’t Blow It!’

Challenges and opportunities for the City of Falls Church in 2017, eh? As you can see from the story on the front page of this week’s edition, the News-Press put this question to a representative group of City movers and shakers, and the responses covered a wide range of options, even if there was a relative consensus on the most important single issue – the George Mason High School campus revitalization project.

For those who’ve been paying attention, yes, those 38 acres annexed into the City as part of the deal to sell the City’s water system to Fairfax County, promise to be nothing less than the “goose that laid the golden egg.”

The potential embedded in that site is almost limitless. Commercial development by the West Falls Church Metro, if it can be done in collaboration with the Metro’s acres up there, could pay for an awful lot in Falls Church, including a new high school and more.

So, those who opined in response to our question with that point of view win our prize! Others can try again next year.

So yes, the biggest issue facing Falls Church in 2017 in our view is this: Don’t blow it! There is so much potential at that site that to fail to realize it will amount to a huge blow to the City’s long term sustainability challenges.

We feel there is a strong case to be made for the City’s sustainability over the long haul, and it’s not because of any quaint features of the City itself. It has to do with sustaining an important model for how we imperfect human beings can order our priorities under tough pressures to live with concord together in the process.

A curious thing happened over the course of the current year on which but few have picked up. Falls Church’s image and desirability in the surrounding region has been transformed. Once seen as a whiny, self-centered nuisance of little or no wider significance, it is now being perceived as the hottest commodity in the neighborhood for developers high and low. This includes the fact that other jurisdictions around the area sit in awe of Falls Church, amazed by the extent to which, already, its main street, W. Broad Street (Route 7) has been transformed.

Neighboring jurisdictions are asking about Falls Church, “How did they do that?” (Emphasis on “doooo!”).

Meanwhile, the City’s most valuable core social institutions, its public schools and its houses of worship, are solid to the core although in unrelenting need of maintaining. The same with its commercial corridors, even if their outward appearances have changed, and even as the population has grown from 9.300 when the News-Press began publishing in 1991 to 13,300 now.

There is more, not less, congeniality in the neighborhoods, with block parties and congenial greetings when dog walkers encounter each other. Lo and behold, there’s happily room for a lot more.