Local Commentary

Editorial: Next Week’s Historic Moments

Falls Church party animals, start your engines. The beginning of next week promises to represent two major inflection points culminating arduous efforts over years in the Little City. The first, on Monday evening, is the ribbon cutting ceremony that will launch the City’s participation in the Capital Bikeshare network.

The second, on Tuesday evening, will be a small party at the Mustang Cafe in George Mason High School hosted by the School Board which will be the occasion for the expected signing of a contract to kick off the construction of an all-new state-of-the-art high school.

Two key signings at the beginning of the week will advance the ambitious effort to develop the 34 acres at the City’s west end to include the new high school and 10.38 acres of dense mixed-use economic development that, according to the best laid plans developed over the last year, pay for the school without any effective tax impact on City property owners. These signings will be of a comprehensive agreement between the City and the economic component developers, EYA, PN Hoffman and Regency, Monday, and of a first phase “guaranteed maximum price” by the School Board with the school construction team, Gilbane, Stantec and Quinn Evans, on Tuesday.

Should all this proceed smoothly as City Manager Wyatt Shields and School Superintendent Peter Noonan assured the News-Press yesterday it will, the dates should occupy a special place in the history books. They do represent a very significant inflection point in a marvellously ambitious undertaking to pull off an extraordinary development and promises to flow into the future significantly beyond the horizons we now envision.

By moving ahead next week, the groundwork is being laid for Virginia Tech to move ahead with its vision to transform its presence on the City-owned land adjacent the West End site into a major higher educational presence that will be a bright and powerful jewel for the entire area, a matter of great pride and significance not only to the City of Falls Church, but to the Dranesville District of Fairfax County and the wider, burgeoning Tysons region.

That will enhance the potential for WMATA’s development of its West Falls Church Metro station property, making its value to the system and to the region truly stunning. The challenge for WMATA in this context will be to think big enough and creatively enough to derive the full potential that will become inherent.

Bright and constructively-motivated civic leaders are working arduously to bring these things to pass, and as the Falls Church experience has proven to date, the key to success will lie in ample inter-jurisdictional communication and an ongoing open and transparent decision-making process that embraces the concerns and hopes of all relevant stakeholders.

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