Local Commentary

Editorial: F.C.’s New Shift In Temperament

There’s been a subtle but important shift in the temperament of the vast majority of citizens of Falls Church that we’ve detected over the course of the most recent years. It’s a shift for the good, and overall we credit the relentless commitment to open dialogue and transparency by our government that some consider almost excessive.

Just the last year has been instructive and hopefully a harbinger of continued good trends for the future. If you think about it, the six months, even, have been remarkable. First of all, the difficult situation that arose over the expansion of Mt. Daniel Elementary, owing to its being located in Fairfax County, that delayed the project for over a year. A lot of acrimony surfaced as a result, both in Falls Church and Fairfax County. But reasonable forces prevailed on both sides, and the project is now moving ahead with dispatch.

Then there has been the past year’s highly public deliberations concerning the disposition of the 34 acres of Fairfax County land that was annexed by the City as a part of the deal to sell the Falls Church Water System to the county. The way the planning and decision making process has proceeded has been extraordinary, leading to the unexpected wide margin of support for a school bond referendum that passed by over 60 percent last November. The bond authorization is the biggest, by far, of any in the 70 year history of the City at $120 million.

Then there was the decision by the City Council to proceed ahead with the City Hall and library renovation projects, over and above the daunting challenge represented by the bonds approved for a badly-needed brand new high school.

The ground covered since last November has been little short of amazing. It’s hard to imagine that it’s been less than four months, and now the City and Schools are plowing ahead with well-reasoned and smart processes toward selecting principal developers to build the new school and to heavily develop 10 acres of the campus land for commercial use.

The transparent process associated with the last four months’ of progress has been astonishing, and all to the strengthening, rather than diminishing, the prospects for maximum success of the effort.

This more transparent approach grew out of the City’s frustration with a first attempt at this which, because there were two bidders competing for the job, had to be cloaked in secrecy, which led to a lot of rumor, suspicion and acrimony from the public.

Now, the public is fully engaged, and the shift in temperament has led to two public forums on the projects to date which drew large crowds, relatively speaking, and a lot of interesting questions that were constructive in nature. Rather than angry challenges to the fundamental premises of the effort, they’ve almost all been sincere inquiries about the project, and some helpful, constructive suggestions.
We commend their participation and hope it will continue.