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Letter to the Editor: 'Our Community Needs This Bond Referendum'

Reader asks fellow residents to vote for Fairfax County library bond on Nov. 6 ballot.

To the Editor:

Fairfax is a passionate community.  We are passionate about our local businesses: nothing can compete with the number of local cupcakeries, or series of weekly farmers markets where we pick up our most prized possessions.  We are passionate about our sports: our local high school rivalries fill stadiums weekly, and who can forget our love for the Redskins and the Nationals?   And we are passionate about our education: thanks to public support, we have both one of premier public school systems and one of the premier library systems at our disposal here in Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax.  But are we committed?  We have reached a crossroads in the timeline of Fairfax where passion can only bring us so far, and we require commitment to carry us the rest of the way.

On November 6, when we fill out our ballots, we will have the opportunity to answer four bond referendum questions.  One of these questions discusses a library bond referendum.

Our community needs this bond referendum for a number of reasons.  The library bond referendum will fund the possible renovation of four of the library’s twenty-three branches: Pohick Regional Library, John Marshall Library, Reston Regional Library and Tysons-Pimmit Library.  Of the library’s branches, these four reside in the oldest buildings yet to be renovated (save Woodrow Wilson Library, whose renovation is currently in progress).  These libraries were set up for the latest technologies when they were built 30-30+ years ago, before the internet, personal computers, eBooks, and many of the most essential services the library provides today. 

The library needs to be able to better serve today’s library customers and community. These branches are only going to become more and more out of date if we don’t improve them, becoming less and less suited to the community’s needs. A vote YES will bring these library branches up to date and make them better suited for the changing technologies of the future. We need a library for 2012, not 1976.

Since the most recent of these library branches was built in 1985, Fairfax County’s population has grown by 54%.  All four districts in which these libraries are located are expected to have large increases in population by 2030.  The Lee District (John Marshall Library) is expected to have a 17% growth, the Springfield District (Pohick Regional Library) is expected to have a 5.6% growth, the Dranesville District (Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library) is expected to have a 12.9% growth, and the Hunter Mill District (Reston Regional Library) is expected to have a 19.6% growth in population.  An increase in people requires either more space, or a more efficient use of space, and most of the funds from the referendum will be used to serve this purpose, allowing the libraries to keep up with the growing population and serve more community members. Without the referendum, the libraries could become overcrowded and would not be able to adequately meet the needs of—or provide invaluable services to—all residents of Fairfax.  A vote YES for this referendum will fund major critical improvements in space efficiency, preventing overcrowding as population increases.

A vote for the library is a vote for the people of Fairfax.  More than five million people visited the library in fiscal year 2012 to search for employment, complete homework assignments, educate themselves, and otherwise improve their lives.  Why not give our library the tools to best serve the community members?

Fairfax is a passionate community, and our duty to commit is a small one; all it takes is a vote.  A vote YES for the library bond referendum will have an effect far beyond the upkeep of the library. Its echo will be heard: in our businesses from a community member who found his employment opportunity using the public library computers; in our schools from a student who is achieving academically after discovering her regular quiet study room in the library; on our sports teams from a child whose interest in football strategy came from reading Vince Lombardi’s biography, which he picked out at his local library.  Yes, we are a passionate community, but we must commit ourselves to our community, our library, and our future by voting YES for the Fairfax County Public Library Bond Referendum.  Let our passion be heard.

 

Bruce Yoran
Fairfax Library Foundation Board of Directors

Bob Bruhns November 02, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Yeoww, $176 million for an office building? Who made such an estiimate?
Rob Whitfield November 02, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Bob, I too was shocked at the new public safety HQ $176 million price, particularly as the County has owned the land for 25 years. A June 2012 Tom Jackman story notes the project is not included in the current public safety bond referendum and may not be built until 2016. The latest cost estimate is $149 million. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-state-of-nova/post/new-fairfax-police-fire-hq-pushed-back-to-2016/2012/06/19/gJQAbDr5mV_blog.html http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/2011/updates/public-safety-headquarters.htm Jackman says that the next County bond referendum in 2014 will be for Tysons Corner transportation infrastructure projects. Maybe county leaders don't see the crumbling Massey building as a priority. With over 17 million square feet of office space vacant currently in Fairfax County, the County could buy an existing office building for a bargain price. Another option is to do a sale leaseback of the new HQ in a manner similar to what occurred at other Government Center buildings in the financial downturn of 1990. When sequestration happens in 2013, greater bargains may occur. However, the County's bond capacity could shrink if commercial and residential property values decline after layoffs of federal workers and contractors. http://cra.gmu.edu/pdfs/Fairfax_County_Sequestration.pdf The County is spending $16.1 million to expand an animal shelter. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/construction/facilities_construction.htm
Skip Endale November 03, 2012 at 06:19 PM
DG, the homeless people also sleep at the Starbucks and the Barnes and Noble as well as a few other places. That's not the problem. The problem is homelessness itself... try to fix the root cause not the symptom. Why does a Vietnam war vet have to sleep in the woods near a multi million dollar defense contracting firm? Why are our tax dollars spent arresting homeless people and putting them behind bars when in fact they need a shower and some clean clothes; maybe then they could find easier acceptance and perhaps even find a job? Secondly, why do you deny state&local employees a right to earn a decent living just as they have over the past 40 years or more - before the T party craze began? Final question, say you get your way, government becomes lean and mean, then what? Not voting for the library bond, that's your choice but I believe you're wrong when you imply that you're supporting a social justice cause when you're voting for the library bond. Its up to you to take the library back maybe even make it better.
Virginia Colin November 04, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Borrowing money to renovate libraries is a bad idea. Most of us live in houses or apartment buildings that were built before 1985. Maybe we have added some electric outlets so that we can use the internet. We did not tear our buildings down to the ground to build something entirely new. That is what was done the last time our county borrowed money to improve library buildings. Richard Byrd library, which was a very good building, was demolished. I do not know all of the branches, but I know that Pohick library is fine as it is. In tough economic times, neither homeowners nor counties should be borrowing money to reconstruct buildings that are in good shape.
Anoneemous November 08, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I agree with Dave that this bond will cause our taxes to increase eventually. Seems like Fairfax County is doing some gold plating of government services. ( New $176 million police and fire headquarters was recently approved by Board).

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