Commentary, Local Commentary

Editorial: A New Era of City, County Cooperation

The genuinely congenial relations between the tiny City of Falls Church and its giant Fairfax County neighbor exemplified in the historic address to the F.C. Chamber of Commerce by Fairfax Board of Supervisors chair Jeff McKay this Tuesday (see article. Page One of this edition) is a new and very welcome thing when viewed from a longer term perspective. It may be hard for anyone who hasn’t been keen to the relations between these two jurisdictional bodies for longer than just the last decade to appreciate, but there used to be a genuine acrimony.

It culminated in early 2014 when Fairfax finally got its way with the transfer ownership of Falls Church’s sprawling 120-mile water system that had been servicing a major portion of Fairfax County and that the Falls Church government had been operating since the 1930s. It amounted to a ham-handed, litigious virtual forced confiscation of the system by the big bully county. But ironically, the final resolution of the deal to transfer the system has worked out for the best for Falls Church, at least for now and, looking forward, as the best we can see.

Notwithstanding the drum beat of naysayers who’ve long argued the City should allow itself to be absorbed into the county, McKay’s historic visit last week is like China finally conceding that Taiwan is an independent nation that China has no claim to. It’s on a far smaller scale, obviously, but that metaphorical point is not lost. The Little City has fought hard to retain its independence and its identity for the last half century, and the beneficiaries of its efforts are all the parties involved. We are just on the brink of glimpsing where this is leading for the region as a whole. The potential represented by the two big projects on either end of Falls Church that depend on good relations between the City and county is enormous. The West End project adjacent to the West Falls Church Metrorail station is pushing ahead full steam and will connect seamlessly with two county properties next to it that will bring over 40 acres of Metro station-linked dense development and thousands of new dwelling units.

On the other end of the City, the county is moving into the first of four stages of revamping the Seven Corners tangle to everyone’s benefit. A third project is along S. Washington Street (Route 29) where the interface between the City and county involves jurisdictional cooperation. 

Falls Church has enjoyed vastly improved relations with long-serving county supervisors John Foust and Penny  Gross, both of whom are leaving office in the coming year, but are leaving legacies that we are confident will work to assure the continuation of this positivity. Also, new Providence supervisor Dalia Palchik, who has moved to new digs closer to the City, has also offered a more congenial relationship than before with Falls Church.

It all represents a happy prospect.