Bond Referendum Has Little for Reston

Bond Referendum Has Little for Reston

Voters are being asked to approve a $325 million bond referendum this November, but few of those funds are earmarked for Reston.

When Fairfax County voters go to the polls on Nov. 2, they will be asked to approve on a bond referendum roughly $325 million in spending for human services, parks, libraries and transportation. Of that sum, no funds have been specifically earmarked for major projects in Reston.

Throughout the rest of Fairfax County, the bond referendum would provide funding to build two new libraries and renovate existing branches, renovate mental health and juvenile facilities, acquire land for parks and recreation, and improve roads.

In Reston, on the other hand, the referendum would secure funds for two spot improvements along the South Lakes Drive and Colt's Neck Road sidewalks.

"It's true that there are no major projects for Reston in this bond referendum," said Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill).

Hudgins did, however, point out that should the bond referendum pass, Reston could benefit if land is identified and purchased for a new park or recreation facility. Also, she said, Reston residents can travel elsewhere in the county to enjoy the benefits of the bond package.

"All of us are impacted by this," she said, pointing out that this bond would provide $110 million to fund the county's share of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's capital program, from which many commuters would benefit.

Hudgins urged Reston's approximately 43,000 eligible voters to not be discouraged and vote yes on the four questions on the November ballot.

"The bond program is such a critical part of how the county meets its responsibilities," she said.

LAST YEAR, Fairfax County voters approved by 77 percent a school bond referendum that provided $57.3 million in funding to fully renovate South Lakes High School and to make some slight improvements at Langston Hughes Middle School. In two years, Reston Regional Library will be up for multi-million dollar renovation on a bond referendum.

Voting to approve bond referendums, even if a particular district is largely excluded, is part of being a good citizen, Hudgins said.

"It's our duty to help each other out," she said.

Merni Fitzgerald, Fairfax County's spokeswoman, said Reston residents could benefit from the new parks that are being planned for elsewhere in the county and specifically from the planned Oakton Library, which would be located just a short drive down Hunter Mill Road.

Also, Fitzgerald said, the $165 million in transportation improvements benefits drivers from all corners of Fairfax County.

"If it's a road they drive on to get to work, they're benefiting," she said. "In the broader view, it's a little wider focus."

BUT MARY BUFF, vice president of the Republican Club of Greater Reston, said the lack of enhancements for Reston in the 2004 bond package is just the latest example of Fairfax County leaving local improvement projects up to the Reston Association or to neighborhood associations.

"For some reason, we're the stepchild in Fairfax County," Buff said. "It's as if Reston doesn't really count in this county."

Buff said this fuels the argument that Reston should incorporate as a town or city because it could then raise revenue itself and ensure it enjoyed a proper return on its investment.

"We might as well take the steps to take care of ourselves," she said.