Bonds dominate ballot in Fairfax -- Gazette.Net



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In addition to casting their ballot in this year’s presidential and congressional elections, Fairfax County voters will be asked to vote on several bond initiatives to fund county infrastructure projects.

Along with the more common bonds for libraries, public safety facilities and parks, this year voters will be asked to decide the fate of one neighborhood that has been affected by severe flooding.

A $30 million stormwater bond primarily will be used to design and construct a levee and pumping system to protect about 180 homes in the Huntington community. Homes there were built in the 1940s and 1950s, a time when it was perfectly legal to construct homes in a flood plain.

Road construction and development in the ensuing decades, including construction of the Capital Beltway, changed Cameron Run

Although they narrowly escaped flooding during Hurricane Sandy this week, homes in Huntington have been damaged three times in the past decade, most recently during Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

In materials supporting the bond referendum, Huntington residents argue that the county is utilizing more resources responding to flooding events in the community than it would expend on a more permanent fix.

“The lives of residents, police and firefighters are at risk. Rescues in 2011 included two pregnant women and a mother with a newborn baby,” reads a statement on the Huntington Community Association’s website. “Homes were so badly damaged that people had to move out for weeks or months.”

The county has studied a number of alternatives for flood protection in Huntington and ultimately determined that the levee and pump system would be the best option.

Library Bond

The ballot will ask voters to approve a $25 million bond to support county libraries. $15 million will be used for renovations at John Marshall Library, Pohick Regional Library and Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library.

All of the renovation plans include improved wireless internet access and more space for public computers, as well as upgrades to “low-tech” library features, like adding more quiet and group study areas.

The remaining $10 million will be set aside for the Reston Regional Library. That location may be relocated as a result of redevelopment around the planned Reston Town Center Metro station, part of the second phase of the Silver Line extension. This funding would be used for site studies, design and construction of the relocated library.

Public Safety

A $55 million bond for public safety facilities will also be on the ballot. Voters will be asked to OK borrowing to expand or rebuild three fire stations and to continue renovations of the county courthouse.

The courthouse renovations, receiving $20 million of the bond dollars, will upgrade 13 courtrooms in the original section of the building, which was expanded with a large addition several years ago. The renovations will bring the older courtrooms into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and improve security, as well as making lighting and cosmetic improvements.

$14 million would be used to rebuild the Jefferson Fire Station, which is 48 years old. $12 million is to relocate and replace the Herndon Fire Station, which was built in the 1950s and is one of the oldest stations in the county. Another $9 million is to replace the Baileys Crossroads Fire Station, which experienced a roof collapse in 2010 and is considered too small to meet current needs.

Parks

The largest chunk of bond dollars, $75 million, will be allocated to county parks, if voters sign off on Nov. 6. $63 million will go to the Fairfax County Park Authority and $12 million will fund the county’s share of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority expenses.

The regional park authority says it uses local bond dollars in accordance with its comprehensive planand safety improvements; campground improvements at Bull Run and Pohick Bay; and renovations at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. Loudoun and Arlington counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church also support the regional park authority.

The Fairfax County Park Authority plans to divide its bond dollars between land acquisition and stewardship ($12.9 million), new facilities at community parks ($7.3 million), facility expansion ($19.5 million), and renovations of existing facilities ($23.3 million).

Projects that could be funded as a result include:

Restoration of the miller’s house at Colvin Run Mill

Renovation of the tenant house at Historic Huntley

An environmental education center in Sully Woodlands

Planned improvements at Monticello Park, Hartland Road Park, White Gardens, Laurel Hill Park, and Patriot Park.

Countywide improvements in park signs

Expansions of Spring Hill and Oak Marr RECenters and Twin Lakes and Greendale Golf Courses

Paving a portion of the Cross County Trail in Wakefield Park

A fully accessible carousel at Lee District Park

Conversions to synthetic turf and lighting improvements at several athletic fields Rolling Valley West, Arrowhead, Ellanor C. Lawrence, Langley Fork, Pine Ridge, McNaughton and Grist Mill

Irrigation, cart path and drainage improvements at Pinecrest, Greendale and Jefferson Golf courses, as well as improvements to the driving ranges at Oak Marr and Burke Lake golf courses.

To learn more about all of the county bond issues, go to www.fairfaxcounty.gov/bond.