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Public Reacts to City Hall Expansion

Citizens speak out at the second of Fairfax City's two budget outreach meetings.

Over 40 Fairfax citizens attended a budget outreach meeting Monday evening, to air their concerns and comments regarding the 2003-2004 city budget. Among those who spoke were citizens concerned about the proposed City Hall renovations and the construction of a police station and parking deck on the Armstrong Street campus.

"I think this new project needs to take a breather," said Fairfax resident Carol Dooney.

Residents questioning the undertaking were concerned about the traffic and parking problems that could potentially arise due to the increased activity on the campus. Some also wanted to know how much open space would exist on the site, wanting assurance that no trees would be cut down to make space for parking spots.

"Our Crestmont community ... will be totally encased in traffic," said one resident of the residential development bordering City Hall's campus to the south.

Fairfax Mayor Rob Lederer said residents should work with city staff on addressing landscaping issues, while he and the city council take their considerations into account.

The bond referendum to renovate City Hall and construct a new police station and a City Hall addition was passed in November 2002. The project would involve constructing 60,300 square feet for the police station and City Hall, constructing 42,200 square feet for the parking deck, and renovating 29,700 square feet of the current City Hall building.

IN ADDITION to concerns about the new police station and the City Hall expansion, citizens also asked the mayor and city council to re-consider the possibility of not instituting a hiring freeze. They feared the city wouldn't replace retiring police officers and firefighters.

Lederer responded that the hiring freeze was only a possibility that city was exploring in order to trim the budget, and that hiring would be on a case-by-case basis, vs. a blanket freeze over all departments.

Other issues raised were supporting the Blenheim estate restoration and questioning whether open-space funding would be better suited for more prosperous economic times. Lederer replied to the open-space issue, saying that the funding is a small portion of the city's overall budget.

"The open-space fund is a fraction of the $25 million being spent around the community," Lederer said.

Citizens will be able to speak before the council on the budget at a public hearing on Tuesday, April 8 at 7 p.m., at City Hall. The council will make a motion on the budget later that evening.