Letter: Irony of Park Petition

Letter: Irony of Park Petition

Letter to the Editor

Unfortunately some who volunteer to serve in the civic arena do so mainly to pursue their own personal agenda and impose it on the community at large. Not long ago, Martin Tillett's Spring Bank community opposed development of affordable housing on North Hill, his community instead supporting a self-serving proposal in which the money would instead be spent buying up foreclosed homes in Spring Bank. In the mid-2000s, Mr. Tillett was involved as a leader of the Spring Bank community in negotiations with the developers who wanted to create a centerpiece for the Mount Vernon community, a town center at Kings Crossing adjacent his community. The unreasonable demands of the then leaders of the Spring Bank community including Mr. Tillett and David Dale, among other issues, caused the developers to throw up their hands in exasperation. They stated in writing:

"Fairfax County must take a leadership role with the local citizen groups and reduce their direct influence on the final design of the project. Planning and Zoning comments must be given a greater weight in the process in order to prevent Kings Crossing from being held hostage by individual citizens and minority groups."

The uproar from civic volunteers was quite forceful. The developer was compelled to rewrite that statement to read as follows: "Fairfax County must be involved in the community outreach process in order to maintain a consistent and expert intermediary with the local citizen groups." The latter description was diplomatic; the former description was accurate.

Now Martin Tillett is circulating a petition that urges the county, at taxpayer expense, to create a county park on the 9-acre Fairchild property located adjacent the Spring Bank community and Mr. Tillett's own property, and behind the Kings Crossing property. At least in part as a result of his own actions and advocacy, instead of a town center at Kings Crossing, we have a Wal-Mart. Had we obtained the town center, the developer had agreed to provide on the Kings Crossing property a complete storm water management system to reduce runoff and up to $500,000 for restoration of Quander Brook within the Fairchild property. With the demise of the Kings Crossing project and development of the Wal-Mart store, the property owner has no obligation whatsoever to create any storm water controls on its completely impervious property that drains storm water and debris into the Fairchild property.

The ingress-egress easement providing the only access to the Fairchild property goes through the northern edge of the parking lot of the Wal-Mart property but expressly forbids visitors to the Fairchild property from parking there. Where the easement ends, there is a deep ravine in the Fairchild property partially caused by storm water runoff from the Wal-Mart property. That ravine comprises the location of a significant aspect of the restoration that is required in order to render the Fairchild property usable as a park. Without that restoration, there is no safe way to enter the property. Remembering that the developer had agreed to provide full storm water controls on its property and pay up to $500,000 to restore the Fairchild property (a price we taxpayers would now have to foot), it is also noteworthy that without storm water controls being established on the Wal-Mart property, restoration efforts on the Fairchild property will likely be futile. Continuing runoff from the impervious Wal-Mart property will just erode again whatever restoration has been carried out on the Fairchild property.

Mr. Tillett knows all of these facts and so it is remarkable that his petition says absolutely nothing about the cost of restoration and the virtual futility of trying to do so. He wants taxpayers to fund restoration of a property that borders his own with the hope that a neighborhood park can be established that mainly benefits his community, after the actions of he and his community contributed to the fact that we no longer have a developer offering to fund the restoration and provide storm water controls to prevent erosion.

H. Jay Spiegel

Mount Vernon