Local Commentary

A Penny For Your Thoughts: The News of Greater Falls Church

Thanks, Nick, but no thanks. No offense to the City of Falls Church, but I don’t want to be Mayor! Last week’s editorial in the News-Press did just what editorials are supposed to do: encourage thought and debate. In case you missed it, the editorial suggested that the City of Falls Church annex about two-thirds of Fairfax County’s Mason District in exchange for helping the county develop the Tyson’s area and give over its water system and school campus to that purpose. The city would take on development of light rail from Bailey’s Crossroads, through the Culmore area, to Tyson’s, and get “under-developed” commercial space in which to grow economically, and pay for its schools. Part of the deal would include making the Mason District Supervisor mayor of the new Falls Church for the first four years. No matter that the Mason District Supervisor doesn’t reside at a Falls Church address!

Let’s look at the possibilities. Two-thirds of Mason District would break down to about 71,000 people and 12 square miles, instantly increasing the City’s population to 82,000 people and 14.2 square miles. The City would get an additional 25,000 housing units, and who knows how many school-aged children. Which schools would be in the new Falls Church City? JEB Stuart High School? Falls Church High School? Bailey’s, Glen Forest, Sleepy Hollow, and Westlawn Elementary Schools?

How would Falls Church City handle the increased public safety needs? How many police officers are needed? How many fire stations? Would the Baileys’, Fort Buffalo, and Jefferson Fire Stations need to be transferred? Would Route 7 through the city have to be widened to accommodate additional city residents? Can you imagine 70,000 additional people accessing services available at City Hall? How large is the City Hall parking lot?

A couple of years ago, there was a news report that Falls Church City was the most “wired” in the country, with 10 Starbucks coffee stores in the 2.2 square miles. Of course, those of us familiar with the area knew something was afoot and, when I looked up the addresses on the news-site, four of the Starbucks addresses were in Mason District and two in the Providence District. All Falls Church ZIP codes, mind you, but not in the City of Falls Church. It’s either a slow news week, or the annexation idea suffers from too much coffee consumption! Cool it!

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Did you happen to see the sobriety checkpoint at Route 50 and Annandale Road last Saturday night? If you’re on the road, you can’t miss them – cruiser lights flashing, police on foot checking each car, and some jim-dandy flashers on the pavement to reroute vehicles through the checkpoint. All motorists were stopped and drivers checked to assure their ability to drive was not impaired by drugs or alcohol. Eight officers and six auxiliary police officers staffed the checkpoint.

Approximately 498 motorists were stopped during the three-hour period. Six arrests were made for DWI (driving while impaired). One person was charged with being drunk in public. Ten traffic summonses were issued: eight for no operator’s license, and two driving on a suspended license.  Sobriety checkpoints are conducted throughout the county on a regular basis.

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