Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

The lines remain long, as voters continue to converge on the Fairfax County Government Center to cast absentee ballots in person for the 2020 presidential election. On Monday, a beautiful Fall day, voters waited patiently from the building entrance all the way to Government Center Parkway. Finding a convenient parking place was a bit challenging, although there were plenty of available spaces on the western side of the immense parking lot. Next week, on Oct. 14, the satellite voting locations will open at 1 p.m., with ballot drop boxes available for those who wish to avoid sending their absentee ballots through the postal service. Hours of the satellite locations, which include the Mason District Governmental Center (6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale) and the Thomas Jefferson Library (7415 Arlington Blvd. in Falls Church), are 1 – 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The last day for satellite voting is Saturday, Oct. 31.

The ballot is a long one, and election observers indicate that lines are delayed when voters, not prepared for the state constitutional amendments and county bond referenda, decide to read that information only when they enter the voting booth. Ballot information is available on-line at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bond/bond-ballot-question, but here is a snapshot of the county bond questions, on which voters may vote YES or NO.

The Library Bond asks for $90 million to renovate and upgrade the Patrick Henry Community Library ($23 million) in Vienna, the Sherwood Regional Library ($18 million) in the Mount Vernon District, and the George Mason Regional Library ($15 million) in Mason District. Those libraries were built in the late 1960s and early 1970s and were last renovated in the mid-1990s.

Bond funds also would support relocating the Kingstowne Regional Library from a rental location to a new, county-owned facility with several co-located services that would be funded with other bond funds

A $112 million Park Bond would provide $100 million for additional parks and park facilities, preservation of open space, and improvement of existing parks owned and operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority. Mason District properties on the bond include improvements and renovations at Providence RECenter in Falls Church and upgrades to Dowden Terrace Park in Bailey’s Crossroads. The additional $12 million is intended to fund Fairfax County’s share of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority’s capital program.

The Transportation Bond for $160 million would finance Fairfax County’s share of the cost of transportation and facilities in the Washington metropolitan area, under the 1967 Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Compact (Metro). Fairfax County is an original member of the interstate compact. Northern Virginia jurisdictions help finance Metro’s Capital Improvement Program, along with some state funding and other local funds. Fairfax County’s share of the current six-year Capital Improvement Program is $265.8 million.

The fourth bond question is the Community Health and Human Services Bond for $79 million. The majority of the bond funds, $58 million, would renovate or relocate the Joseph Willard Health Center, built in 1954. The facility is woefully outdated and lacks space to serve the programs and services essential to the well-being of infants, children, women, and families. The balance of the bond proceeds would renovate the Crossroads facility, a residential substance abuse and rehabilitation center in the southern part of the county.

Fairfax County voters traditionally support bond referenda, recognizing that the county’s coveted Triple A bond rating makes these infrastructure and facility investments beneficial for both the taxpayers and the investors.

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.