Letters to the Editor: October 1 – 7, 2020
Clarifying Some Aspects of F.C. Stormwater Coverage
Last week’s coverage of City Council’s Sept. 21 discussion of six critical stormwater projects in five neighborhoods was mostly accurate but flat wrong about some key facts.
First, the editorializing headlines about a “small household impact” that would help “few homes” were incorrect. These projects would help prevent future flooding for well over 100 Falls Church residents who endure the accumulated runoff from every nearby home and business during major storms. These neighborhoods are not in federal flood plains but have suffered repeated flooding in large part because the city’s stormwater infrastructure is insufficient.
The Council discussion and coverage focused on 48 homes marked with a dot on preliminary engineering plans. The engineering firm confirmed that those denote homes that had a recent topographic survey. Those homes would likely benefit the most from improved drainage, but many other nearby homes would be helped too. In July 2019’s storm, more than 130 homes and businesses — largely concentrated in these neighborhoods — had enough stormwater or raw sewage damage to request a special bulk trash pickup.
Second, the projects’ estimated cost is $8.3 million to $12 million (factoring in a 45 percent contingency) using a 20-year bond — not the incorrect price on the front page that referred to a 30-year bond for a high-end estimate that staff did not recommend.
Lastly, the article erroneously stated as fact that stormwater fees will double. Next week, Council will discuss whether to resume engineering work on five priority projects that was halted in March. If Council members approve up to $500,000 to continue design work, this will provide the clearest cost picture, allow lengthy federal permitting processes to begin and position the city to apply for state and federal grants, which would factor into future rate decisions.
City Council members have stated that these priority projects are important and that keeping floodwater out of homes is a fundamental role of government. None of them have ever said that the city shouldn’t build these projects.
Instead, the discussion centers on how best to fund these projects and when to build them.
The city has made great strides recently in completing smaller stormwater projects.
Four more will be finished by next summer’s storm season.
Greenlighting these larger priority projects soon would take advantage of historically low interest rates and help protect at-risk neighborhoods sooner from more severe, more frequent storms.
The city should keep making progress on these projects to provide some long-needed flood protection for these neighborhoods.
Fairfax Co. Voting Is Immensely Complex This Election Cycle
I was approved for an absentee ballot in June for the Primary Election.
I never received the ballot, and my online records show that someone used it to vote (I don’t know who they voted for).
I was approved for an absentee ballot for the November election.
The ballot was mailed, and I was supposed to receive it around Sept. 22. It has not been received.
The Fairfax County Office of Elections advised me to “vote in person” via email.
They do not answer their phone, nor is there a voice mail option to leave a message.
What was once a simple, straightforward process has become another victim of gross incompetence, unethical, irresponsible, and illegal behavior.
Stormwater Costs Due To Irresponsible Neighbors’ Projects
Our first obligation as neighbors is not to harm or take from one another.
And yet, that is happening with storm water. Neighbors on high ground continue to pave, replace bungalows with McMansions, and re-develop commercial property.
That increases their wealth while reducing that of homeowners who face increased risk of flooding, loss of property value, and mandatory flood insurance premiums.
The News-Press reported some council members think the cost of flood control is “being foisted on all City taxpayers to the benefit of so few homes.” Foisted? Transferring wealth while refusing to pay for it —isn’t that theft?