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Votes

Burke's Piece of the County Pie

County budget to fund two main Braddock District projects.

It is trails and a library for Braddock District residents in the Fairfax County budget this year, as county officials begin deliberating over the uses of the $3.2 billion in spending power. Just over half of the Fiscal Year 2007 expenditures ā€” $1.66 billion, including a $142 million debt service ā€” are going into Fairfax County Public Schools. The rest is split up between public safety funding at $409 million, health, community and family services at $351 million, and other services which include public works, employee benefits, parks and recreations and the county debt.

The county also has $46 million worth of third-quarter funds to spend, from extra revenue that has come in over the last fiscal year. According to Supervisor Sharon Bulova, these funds usually go into one-time projects, or "non-recurring" expenses. This is where the money for trails and the Burke Centre Library comes in, she said.

"Most of the positive balance anticipated is going to be saved in a 'rainy day' fund," said Bulova, who is the budget chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. "But smaller amounts are used for one-time projects."

THE LARGEST AMOUNT of third-quarter funds, $2.8 million, goes into to construction and maintenance of the Dolley Madison Library in McLean and the Burke Centre Library in Burke, which will open in spring 2008. The Burke Centre Library will receive $585,000 of the funds in construction of a parking lot to handle overflow cars while a new garage at the Burke Centre Virginia Railway Express (VRE) station is being built nearby.

The 17,000-square-foot Burke Centre Library, will relieve pressure on the Fairfax City Regional Library and the Pohick Regional Library, the county's busiest branch.

"The community and surrounding areas like Clifton, Crosspointe, Burke Centre are really looking forward to having the library open," said Duwain Ketch, who like Morse lives in Burke Centre. Ketch, is a member of the Friends of the Kings Park Library, a charitable group that raises money for the library. He is also a member of the newly-formed Friends of the Burke Centre Library.

"We've been very successful in raising funds through book sales to help support the passing of a bond referendum, and what we can do to get the library open," he said.

Although the library and lot are funded by part of a $52.5 million bond referendum approved by the Fairfax County electorate in 2004, costs rose during delays in the construction process.

"The bond money will pay for the construction of the lot but there are other things done to the parking lot to make it suitable for satellite parking," said Bulova.

The money will help pave the lot, put up shelters and signs, and take care of additional design costs. Also, funds from the 207 budget will go into stocking the shelves at the new libraries in Burke Centre and in Oakton, she said.

"That certainly would be adequate," said Ketch. "It is certainly not too early to start development of the collection. You need around 100,000 volumes at least to start out."

THIRD-QUARTER FUND money will also go toward walking and biking trails leading from Burke Centre into the VRE station, as well as pedestrian improvements at Roberts Parkway and Burke Centre Parkway. At a cost of $860,000 total, the project will improve the sidewalks surrounding the Roberts Parkway-Burke Centre Parkway intersection. They will increase the ease and safety of non-motorized access to the VRE station too, said Bulova.

"We'd like to provide a safe means for people to be able to walk or bike to the station," she said.

"This is going to be unprecedented access," said Kevin Morse, who lives in Burke Centre.

The first priority in the trails is one that extends to the left of the Little League field and into the Woods neighborhood in Burke Centre. Currently, people walking to the VRE station must traverse a steep incline and cross over a creek to reach the station. The improvements will pave the trail, redirect it around the slope to make it ADA-accessible, and build a bridge over the creek. A trail that branches off to the right of the baseball diamond into the Commons neighborhood is also on the list for renovations.

"Now you've got two large communities, two of the five communities in Burke Centre, with pedestrian access right into the station," said Morse.

County staff will also begin examining the best way to build a pedestrian bridge from the north side of the VRE tracks to the main station area. About $200,000 will go into the studies, but this budget cycle will not fund actual construction of the bridge, said Bulova. A bridge is necessary, she said, as now people cross the tracks directly to reach the south side of the tracks.