Editorial: Vote ‘Yes’ on the Water Referendum

October 23, 2013 6:47 PM2 comments

There will be a lot on the ballot for City of Falls Church residents in the fast-approaching Nov. 5 election. From selecting a governor to members of our local City Council and uncontested “constitutional officers” (sheriff, treasurer and commissioner of the revenue), there will be a lot to navigate, and yet there is one item that stands out as the most critical – at least from a Falls Church standpoint – the referendum on the sale of the Falls Church water system.

There is a lot of well-justified concern in high level City circles that the public has not been well enough informed about the ins and outs of this issue, such that it may be too easy for insufficiently informed voters to simply vote “no” out of passive indifference, or a general, vague contrariness. There is no organized effort to encourage a “no” vote, but that’s also troubling, because if there was, then a pitched debate would occur and the public would wind up better informed.

A number of public information forums have been held, including the latest one scheduled last night, but they’ve been poorly attended, especially from the standpoint of the amount of votes required to pass the referendum.

Only this week, at this late date, has an officially-registered political action committee come together, called Citizens for a Sustainable City, to urge a “yes” vote on the referendum, and with very little time to get the word out.

We wish them the best, and encourage everybody to throw some time and resources into the effort, because the viability of the City’s future very much depends on the passage of that referendum, on a majority of “yes” votes over “no.”

This is neither a partisan nor ideologically-framed matter. Under the circumstances, it is hard to imagine how a rational argument can be made for a “no” vote. Yes, Fairfax bullied the City, but that’s not the issue now.

The law requires, when it comes to the sale of City-owned land, for a public referendum to be held. So that will happen Nov. 5 to hopefully seal a deal that was mediated between Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church which was, given the legal noose that had been tightened around the City’s neck, a “win-win” for both entities.

The City’s major “win” comes from about 14 acres of prime real estate adjacent the West Falls Church Metro station where it could develop a highly dense mix of tax revenue-yielding development that would provide enormous potential and relief for real estate tax payers.

But if the voters reject the deal, and vote “no,” the legal noose around the City will choke it and, at best, the City would have to cough up its water system with nothing but a lot of grief to show for it.

That’s it in a nutshell. A “yes” vote is the only sane and rational option.

  • Mike Smith

    Sad, but true. The compelling reason to vote yes is to make the beatings stop.

  • John Strother

    14 acres of land and $40 million is what the trade for the water works. The City has put all it’s eggs in one basket. The City will not be able to tear down historic buildings and build new ones if the vote is NO. The City won’t have final say on lands near and on the High School’s property. Plus the Gordon Road triangle can’t be built. All these properties are owned by independent owners. Except for the schools. Who will benefit most from this trade? The city or the developers? What will be lost? the historic places, the bowling alley, the places we all eat at and places of historic reason. The Farm House at city hall will go to the way side if a school is built there.
    Why would the City have to cough up anything? Cough up the water works for a lot of grief? No, it wants to sell it so that Fairfax County won’t keep bringing lawsuits over it. But in reality, the City wants to sell it for exchange of lands and money to fund big projects. Taxes never do down, newer buildings cost money and cause traffic problems. The need starts with more police officers, more fire departments, more open space to keep the city a livable place. Who wants to live in High rises like those in North Arlington? If they did they would had moved there.

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