Letter: Spring Bank and Fairchild Park

Letter: Spring Bank and Fairchild Park

Letter to the Editor

The history of seeking a park and restoring Quander Brook is easily understood with facts. Nothing is easier than to falsify the past. Lifeless instruction will do it. If you rob it of vitality, stiffen it with pedantry, sophisticate it with argument, chill it with unsympathetic comment, you render it as dead as any academic exercise. Citizens know that in the archive editions of the Gazette, they can listen to its poets and to its masters in the humbler art of prose to discover the facts about Spring Bank and its struggle for improvements to infrastructure and the same park and recreation assets found in other Mount Vernon neighborhoods. The real and proper object for knowing the truth in this matter is not to expound it, but to realize it, consort with it, and make your spirit kin with it, so that you may never shake the sense of obligation off. Truths are why we seek improvements.

In the Gazette articles about the history of our Mount Vernon watersheds, I stated that the degradation of our streams and creeks were the unintended consequences of development patterns across history. The Belle Haven watershed is acknowledged as one of the most degraded in all of Fairfax County. Why is it that the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) has not completed a single restoration project in this watershed but have done numerous projects elsewhere in Fairfax County? Quander Brook on the Fairchild property meets numerous DPWES priority criteria for being a project site yet continues to be passed over for projects in less degraded watersheds.

At the March 2015 meeting of the MVCCA Environment and Recreation committee, the new director of the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA), Kirk Kincannon commented that Community Parks are lacking here in the Mt. Vernon District. He spoke about the Fairchild property saying “An important challenge facing the FCPA is that new parks do not bring new funds to manage them. The Fairchild property has forested, steep slopes, a stream valley and an RPA. The property will need investment to clean up, restore and make it a community park that can be used by the community. A public or private partnership opportunity would be one option to pursue for restoration of this property so it can be considered for transfer to the FCPA.”

Citizens in Spring Bank have contributed as taxpayers for decades adding great parks in communities throughout all of Fairfax County. When these now established parks were new, did they all bring new funds to manage them? It was our tax dollars that contributed to the investments necessary to clean, restore, plan and create these parks as assets to the communities they serve today. It is fair to ask why now some undefined special partnership is required for the requisite investments before they consider taking ownership of this donated land. They are suggesting that our desire for the kind of parks we helped to fund in other communities is for our community a liability for them to manage. We see the donated land as an asset to develop in order that future generations in an urbanized north Mount Vernon will have parks in their community.

Given that both DPWES and FCPA continue to stonewall Spring Bank, one begins to consider whether stealth inequalities govern the distribution of public assets in this county thus exacerbating inequities rather than reducing them. This system of distribution seemingly does so in a way that favors communities with the least need while the communities with the greatest needs receive the fewest resources. To take the taxpayer dollars and channel them back to districts which are much less in need of funding support since they have better infrastructure, fewer degraded watersheds and more park and recreation amenities is despicable.

For these reasons, I ask Fairfax and the Mount Vernon citizens to sign the online petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/petition-to-the-mount-vernon-supervisor-to or sign a paper version asking that the Board of Supervisors transfer the former Fairchild property into the hands of the FCPA.

Martin Tillett

Spring Bank