Opinion: Letter to the Editor: County Not Ready for HQ2

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: County Not Ready for HQ2

You know you are hitting close to home when the big dogs bark. And, in his letter to the Connection last week “(Amazon’s HQ2 - Facts or Opinions”) Fairfax County Economic Development Agency Director Dr. Gerald Gordon — the man charged with bringing businesses to Fairfax -- strained his vocal chords about my letter that the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 in the Reston area would have an adverse effect on our quality of life. He doesn’t want anyone to mess that up.

So he attacked the messenger, not the message. He says Maynard “ignores some important facts and misstates other particulars,” “misleads the reader,” “neglected to note,” “non-facts,” “misstatements,” etc. For the most part, these characterizations are not true. I acknowledge sloppy wording in not specifying that the now-departed Mobil headquarters was in Merrifield, not Reston. My bad.

Then he glosses over the core point of the letter: Fairfax County cannot and will not provide the infrastructure needed to support the influx of 50,000 Amazon people and tens of thousands more in supporting businesses in or around Reston these new residents reasonably expect, even over three decades. Indeed, the county has not provided the needed infrastructure countywide — schools, parks, libraries, transportation, etc. — for years, if not decades, that its self-legislated policies and plans dictate, much less in Reston.

Public school classroom sizes are steadily increasing while teacher pay lags regional averages.

Parkland growth, much less facilities in parks, is not keeping pace with the county’s slow long-term population and workforce growth as the Park Authority’s budget has stagnated.

Public libraries have seen significant operating budget cuts over the last decade ($32 million to $28 million) and its total collection has shrunk by more than 16 percent despite increasing population.

Driving, especially commuting, is a nightmare across the county, including Reston, because of inadequate and poorly maintained roads due to limited funding.

Fairfax is explicitly planning not to add any bus service to Reston over the next three decades according to our master plan.

Metrorail ridership is declining, even with the arrival of the Silver Line in Reston, with little change anticipated in its discouraging service.

What does Dr. Gordon say about the infrastructure challenge if HQ2 comes to Fairfax County? “Amazon’s HQ2 campus will be significant in its size and will certainly contribute substantial real estate taxes to both counties (Fairfax and Loudoun), taxes that will support local education systems, recreational opportunities and other important public services.”

True as far as it goes, but the cost of providing community services to HQ2 and other new employees who live here will exceed the tax revenues they generate — as they do just about everywhere. Real estate tax from the commercial HQ2 facilities will help close that gap, but Dr. Gordon clearly does not deny that Amazon would receive tax or other county financial benefits that would offset those gains if it comes to Fairfax County.

The substantive bottom line is that Fairfax County does not have adequate finances, policies, plans, staffing, or a commitment to sustain, much less improve, its current or future residents quality of life here in Reston or elsewhere in the county if Amazon decides to locate its HQ2 in our area.

That said, I wish Dr. Gordon a long and healthy retirement beginning at the end of the year.

Terry Maynard