2013 was certainly a watershed transitional “moment” in the history of the City of Falls Church, when goodbyes were said to a lot of the old – including numerous of its citizens of great local, regional and national import, such as Jessie Thackrey, Walter Mess, Herb Kaplow and Cdr. Robert S. “Hap” Day – and hellos were said to a wealth of new opportunities to profoundly reshape the parameters and role of the City in the region in ways all for the better, in our view.
The biggest singular development of 2013 was the resolution of the many years’ long dispute the Little City had with its giant Fairfax County neighbor over the control of its water system.
When the parameters of the new Silver Line in the Metro transit system took final shape to include four new station stops in Tysons Corner, plans also began to take shape for a veritable explosion of new high-rise development in the area. As far as water hook up and services were concerned, the City of Falls Church’s water system stood to make a killing, as its system ran right through Tysons all the way to Langley.
That was when Fairfax decided to step over an invisible turf line that had been left unratified for almost two decades, and Falls Church challenged the move with a legal offensive that landed it flat on its back.
Falls Church was fortunate to come out of six years of legal combat with the county in far better shape than it would have had it never wrangled with its much bigger neighbor in the first place. Had the City sat back and let the county eat its lunch, the City’s control of its water system would have gradually eroded away. Instead, as it turned out, through a federal mediation, the City was able to negotiate the sale of its water system to the county for a net $14 million or so and, far more importantly, the annexation from the county to the City of nearly 40 acres of prime real estate.
The portion of that real estate closest to the West Falls Church Metro station is primed for high-density development that could bring major riches to the City for many decades to come, something the City would never have had the opportunity for had it back and let Fairfax take its system over bit by bit.
So, now the City is in a far better position to command its destiny as a “Not Tysons Corner” liveable and educationally-unmatched jurisdiction amid the booming Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In 40 years, Tysons Corner will become downtown for an area incorporated into one of the 10 biggest cities in the U.S., Arlington will have become its own high-rise megalopolis, and Falls Church, with about 25,000 people in a slightly larger area, will enjoy parks, neighborhoods and schools that will make it the envy of everywhere else.