Letters to the Editor: June 26 – July 5, 2017
No Substance from F.C. Campus Consultants
It’s time to admit that Falls Church has a crisis of vision related to the campus development site. The bevy of consultants employed by the city to weigh in on the matter still hasn’t produced much substance, or at the very least anything new. The latest report covered last week showed once again that the city is still operating passively and allowing outside consultants to shape a fairly unimaginative agenda.
First, of all the groups paid to determine how much that land is worth, not a single one offered up a creative solution outside of an outright sale. The smartest thing we could do as a city is to consider a mechanism where a developer finances the land acquisition through us, by paying an annual amount equal to the annual borrowing costs needed to build the high school. The city collects more in the long run and covers debt payments until the site begins to generate tax revenue, which also means we do not need to raise the tax rate accordingly. It’s been done in other cities successfully but it requires us to think outside the box.
Second, why not ask actual developers and investors to bring their best and brightest ideas forward immediately to help shape the conversation. It engages the development community early on, and moves this beyond a purely academic exercise. That site should be so much more than another plain vanilla mixed use development. Think tech focused, performing arts and world class office space, all constructed sustainably and incorporating progressive urban planning. The opportunities extend beyond apartments and street level retail.
It’s Time to Change The Name of J.E.B. Stuart High School
The debate on renaming J.E.B. Stuart High School is 100 years too old.
Whether or not Stuart was an honorable man, a good general, or a slave owner is not disqualifying. After all, George Washington, the father of our country, was all three.
Whether the Civil War was about slavery, or not, is important, but not central to the debate.
We should look to the 1950s, not the 1850s, as the community considers the name issue.
The 1950s, when Elvis was King, McDonalds was a new burger joint, Ike was president, and massive resistance to school integration was alive in Virginia and Fairfax County, is when the school was named after Stuart.
The name was selected to send an unmistakable message to Black students and their parents: you are not welcome here! It was selected to symbolize exclusion not inclusion. And it was selected to reaffirm our community’s worst fears and prejudices.
For these reasons alone, it is time to change the name of the high school.
Fixed-Income Citizens Overwhelmed by Increased Taxes
Your recent article about the capital improvement plan identified two options with different tax impacts. Option 1 includes $120 million for a new high school, $13 million for city hall, and $8 million for library improvements with a projected increase of nine cents on the tax rate. Removing the library from the equation supposedly reduces the rate to four cents. How can that be?
Removing the smallest improvement cost to the plan reduces the rate by over half. The math just doesn’t add up! I hope that the council considers all citizens in this decision.
As a retired senior citizen on a fixed income I feel overwhelmed by ever increasing real estate taxes. We were promised lower taxes with the increased density of commercial space in the city. The commercialization has happened but the taxes keep increasing!
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