Updates from Letty – October 13, 2017

Blog posts are the personal views of Letty Hardi and not official statements or records on behalf of the Falls Church City Council​ 

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all of the great feedback about my recent GMHS posts (if you missed them see these posts: Timeline/RecapFAQsFact vs Fiction). Keep sending me comments and questions, and I’ll do a final round-up in the coming weeks. Our democracy works best when people are informed and turn out to vote. Help spread the word: Election Day is November 7th. The last day to register to vote or update your registration is next Monday, October 16th. If you have a new neighbor, drop that hint! And remember, in person absentee voting is already underway and convenient – just drop by City Hall weekdays 8 am-5 pm and Saturdays, October 28 and November 4, from 9 am – 5 pm. Take note of the local candidate forums below (including one tonight) if you’d like to learn the positions of the City Council and School Board candidates. Vote411.org is also a great resource.

While the GMHS referendum is the hot topic around town, our City Council meeting this week was about the unglamorous but important work in your local government – read on for quick updates on parks, traffic calming, arts and cultural grants, and new to Falls Church – Indigenous Peoples’ Day!

Finally if you’d like to catch up over coffee, my last two set of fall office hours are 9 am next Monday, Oct 16 at The Happy Tart and Tuesday, Oct 31 at Rare Bird.



What Happened This Week

City Council Meeting – TL;DR Version:

  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day – for the first time, we recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I’m proud to have advocated for us to join the growing list of cities across the US (and the second in Virginia, I believe). More than ever, I believe it’s important for us to re-examine the way history has been told and memorialized so we understand our past and do better going forward. If you’re strolling through town and haven’t seen the “Heritage Trail”on Rt 29 at the Lincoln at Tinner Hill (soon-to-be Target location) – you’ll see that our city has some Native American roots.

  • Cherry Hill Playground Replacement – you may have seen the signs at Cherry Hill Park that the playground replacement project has started; the work will last 6-8 weeks and reopen in December. It’s always tough balancing multiple goals in a multi-function space like Cherry Hill – the trees, the open green field, the historic barn and farmhouse, picnic areas and playground – but I am grateful that there has been much community engagement and collaboration between Parks staff and the City Arborist to balance those needs. Ultimately, the new equipment will serve a broader range of children, create an ADA accessible park which is needed in the city, and do so with the least site disturbance as possible. Re-planting of trees will occur when the playground is finished.
  • Traffic Calming – several neighborhood traffic calming projects are underway across the city. The City Manager reported that we have secured federal grant money for a future bundle of traffic calming requests. I’m always a fan of leveraging grant money to achieve more throughput, but the downside is that the federal process is more cumbersome and bundling up requests will require more patience from all, even if we ultimately get more projects done in the end. Find out more information or submit a NTC request for your neighborhood here.

  • Arts & Cultural Grants – check out the list of organizations and projects the City supports with grants we approved on Monday. I often write about the power of economic development and the arts and special events also generate bottom line impact, besides bringing a dose of cultural diversity and drawing in visitors. A past study conducted by Americans for the Arts indicates that arts organizations generate $135 billion nationwide in economic activity annually, supporting 4.l million jobs and generating another $22.3 billion in additional tax revenue.


What’s Coming Up

  • Today, Friday October 13 at 730 am – Campus Economic Working Group Meeting (Dogwood, City Hall) The Campus Economic Working Group has continued meeting and preparing for potential economic development so we can hit the ground running if there is a “yes” vote, including topics like future land use designation, zoning, engineering plans. Of note re: the cost of utilities, sidewalks, roads, and other infrastructure at the site – the City Manager clarified at our meeting on Monday that the external land valuation study conducted by Alvarez and Marsal already discounts needed infrastructure work from the $43-45M land value of the 10 acres.
  • Tonight, Friday October 13 at 7 pm – City Council Candidate Forum (City Council Chambers)
  • Friday, October 20 at 7 pm – School Board Candidate Forum (City Council Chambers)
  • Monday, October 23 at 730 pm  – City Council Meeting
  • Wednesday, October 25, from 4-7 pm – GMHS Tour. Visit and learn from student and adult tour guides about the high school facilities.
  • Wednesday, October 25 at 730 pm – School Board Candidate Forum (American Legion)
  • Monday, November 13 at 730 pm – City Council Meeting