Letters to the Editor: February 6 – 12, 2020
F.C. Should Get Library Residents Voted For
Budgets are about choices and priorities. The residents and taxpayers of Falls Church voted in a referendum to provide money to upgrade our Mary Riley Styles Library. Our library receives well over 300,000 visits per year and is available to all of the residents in our city. The planned upgrades will provide an increase in meeting spaces at the library for events such as the one I recently had the pleasure and privilege of attending, in which Jeff Peterson introduced his recently published book, “A New Coast,” on the effects of rising seas along our eastern coastline. Mr. Peterson was articulate and erudite, and his conclusions were thoughtful. At the end of his talk, I told the librarian that I hoped the library would host other speakers. He agreed.
The taxpayer approved funding will also increase critically needed spaces for young children who visit the library with their parents. It will pay for LEED certification and make our library environmentally friendly. Our library’s HVAC system desperately needs an upgrade and its decrepit elevator is so old that parts are difficult to replace. I’m most concerned about spending the money to make our library ADA compliant. Failure to do so would invite an expensive lawsuit.
I attended a city council meeting last Monday evening with a number of other Falls Church residents and taxpayers where the Council was attempting to deal with the budget. One of the items discussed was the increased funding needed to upgrade library. Despite the voters’ approval to renovate the library in a recent citywide referendum, the rising costs of construction appeared to be giving some of the councilors cold feet.
Budgets are about choices and priorities. They are also about promises that are made.
Council Should Honor Referendum Approved by Voters
I am totally bemused by the stance of two Falls Church City Council members and the highly tentative support of the remaining Council and mayor regarding the renovation of the public library, which citizens very clearly indicated they wanted done in a referendum three years ago. In that interim, the Mary Riley Styles Library has been pushed back and back again on the schedule of proposed projects, asked to reduce the scope of their design, asked to accept reductions in their funding, and finally and most ignobly lumped by the Council in a new package equating the library with sewers and sidewalks.
In response, the library administrators have brilliantly negotiated a contract (which the Council now imperils) that removes much City liability for cost overrun, sought citizen and professional input on adapted design, and worked with the professional aplomb that characterizes them in helping citizens deal with the delays, the reduced resources, and the continued lack of accessibility that the Council’s delays have incurred.
And why is this long delayed, much needed/mandated renovation once again being imperiled? Because a minority of the Council fears cost overruns might happen. Enough! Honor the proposal approved by the citizens you were elected to serve.
(And this time, try to monitor ongoing costs and heating installation.)
To not proceed with the voter-approved, long delayed renovation of the Mary Riley Styles Public Library seems tantamount to telling your third daughter that, even though she has a scholarship, you will not send her to college because her two older siblings spent too much money.
Sally A. Brett
Maybe City Should Combine Public & High School Libraries
With the City’s poor performance record with capital spending, has any attention been given to combining our public library with the library for George Mason High School?
Combined infrastructure and resources should yield a strong and efficient partnership between City and schools. Traffic and use of public libraries has declined in recent decades and combining infrastructure and resources may yield stakeholder buy-in and support.
Muddy Trail in City Needs Long-Term Solution
I would like to address the issues regarding the trail that goes between W. Marshall St. and W. Westmoreland Rd.
The trail is often muddy and unpleasant to walk on. A few years back, the city put mulch on the trail and it was so much better than the dirt path, but it did not last long. It all got washed away because of the hill. Everyday this trail is used, for example, kids coming home from school each day.
It is important that the city comes up with a more long-term solution to this issue.
Benton Got Facts Wrong in Buttigieg Column
Nicholas Benton got two basic facts wrong in his recent column about national politics (“The Faith Identity of Pete Buttegieg”) in the Jan. 30 – Feb. 5 News-Press.
I won’t use this letter to argue why I (a retiree) think everyone on Mr. Benton’s list of “five formidable candidates” is too old, too inexperienced or too Socialist to top the Democratic ticket. But he had two errors in his single sentence which dismissed Amy Klobuchar from his list of five, the candidate whom I think is the best choice to head the Democratic ticket in 2020.
First Mr. Benton misspelled “Klobuchar,” and second, he erroneously said that the New York Times endorsed her for vice president.
The Times, in an unusual move, decided to endorse two Democratic candidates for president, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, and said voters should determine for themselves which candidate’s policies they most support.
Senator Klobuchar has been endorsed by the New York Times (as well as New Hampshire’s Union Leader), and this fact should be accurately reported so people will take a closer look at her candidacy.
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