News and notes from Reston (tm).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reston Big Dig: Come Hell or High Water, Parents Want Kids Back at School

2536103901_432783be9d.jpgHow badly do Reston parents want to get their screaming shut-in snowbound monsters precious children back to, what was it called again, school? Badly enough that they're prepared to do Fairfax County's work for it by digging out Reston schools, by hand or bloody stump if necessary.

On Sunday afternoon, February 14, volunteers will gather at South Lakes High School and then fan out across Reston to shovel snow at key school walkways and bus stops.

The project is being organized by a small group of Reston residents in response to a request from the Fairfax County Public Schools for help in clearing walkways and bus stops so that students can get to school safely starting next Monday morning.

(While the organizers, including Mike Collins, Kevin Danaher, and David Robinson, are Reston Association members, this project is not an RA sponsored event.)

Volunteers with shovels are asked to meet at SLHS (stadium side parking area) at 1:00 pm on Sunday. Groups of volunteers will then be dispatched out to key locations in Reston identified by FCPS.

With limited time, the organizers are utilizing email and social networking to reach out to the Reston community quickly. So please help spread the word.
"Bring shovels and cameras," the organizers advise, though we're not quite sure how a camera can be used to move snow. Maybe the lens caps can be used as improvised spades.

For more information, e-mail


  1. Wow this is great and all...but it matters not if the Reston schools are dug out. If the REST of the county schools are not ok, there won't be school. Good idea...just too small of an impact to matter. Also, FCPS is asking citizens to do the job that they refuse to pay their custodians to do because they want to save a penny.

  2. The parents who care/can have already gone out and taken care of their local stop...the South Lakes gathering sounds like a party -- which is cool, but the issue isn't digging out the school grounds so much as the sidewalks that surround them. Responsible people dig out the sidewalks in their neighborhoods. Period. If you want to pay the custodians to do it, Jack Dale will be happy to add it to the FCPS budget request, which by the way is already OVER 50% of the County Budget.

    The irony is that here in Reston, we're pretty short on sidewalks anyway!

    By the way, remember that sidewalk that THEY want to put in on Soapstone? Who's going to dig it out in the next snow? THEY already refuse to repaint the crosswalk or light it in any way. In other words, who will be shirking the responsibility for that? I had to drive on "that" section of Soapstone by the 7-11 yesterday and could hardly get through. The plows had blocked in all the people who parked there during the storm and as they dug out, they were re-parking HEAD-IN -- effectively eliminating a lane of traffic.

    While the snow brings out the best in some people, it really heightens the selfishness in others. Sheesh.

  3. @Anon 9:38

    So you want pay more property or sales tax so the county can pay for better snow removal? I'd rather just use my weekend/time off than pay more taxes.

  4. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)February 13, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    @ Joshua: That's the $1,000,000 question about all that ails Northern Virginia. We could solve all of our problems instantly if people would be willing to tax themselves higher to finance more capital improvements. Instead of having the nation's second-worst gridlock we could be the forerunners in mass transit usage, but as of right now Metro reaches far too few. A consortium of private business owners in the Dulles Tech Corridor agreed to voluntarily tax themselves to help make the Silver Line happen while residents begrudged and opposed paying a few cents more to commute on the toll road. This, to me, shows that people in NoVA would just rather sit and complain than take action, demand higher taxes, and actually get RESULTS to improve our quality-of-life. You get what you pay for. You all wanted to keep taxes dirt cheap, causing communities to budget nearly nothing for snow removal, and then "Snowpocalypse" occurs and taxpayers are out hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity as we Federal workers are snowbound. There's a definite trend here of people not wanting to pay taxes but ALSO expecting top-notch services. It doesn't make any sense to me.

  5. Higher taxes = better service. You get what you pay for.

  6. Probably not. One of the edicts from the aftermath of 9/11 was to disperse the government away from Washington DC.

    Tax rates are plenty high. The problem is all the people getting tax breaks to 'stimulate' the economy. Recessions come and go, but temporary tax breaks become permanent as per Obama's new budget and Bush's budgets.

  7. Broke - I find that people who opt to pay more taxes often tend to be people who aren't in the highest tax bracket. It sounds like a great idea until you're taxed so much there's no incentive to work.

    I wish the US could have a tax referendum each year that gives people categories they could check with percentages for how they would like their dollars spent. So much for defense, human services, energy, etc. It would give a much clearer picture of what people REALLY want. I don't trust our elected representatives to discern or care about that much anymore. They've become too invested in their own job security and a sense of their own paternalistic responsibility to make my decisions for me. This starts as low as RA and goes right up to the top of the government hierarchy.

  8. Bico- you must be new to the area. Our problem isn't that we aren't taxed enough to pay for our roads, it's that most of our tax money is diverted elsewhere in the state by our government. Unfortunatley none of our state representatives seems to be willing or able to do anything about this. If you've ever driven around Richmond, which has beautiful, empty roads, you would understand the scope of the problem. The reason people in this area don't want to be taxed more to pay for our roads is that we want to see the money that we *Already Pay* being used for this purpose, instead of being stolen and used elsewhere.

    What you are advocating- that we need to increase taxes- would simply mean the people of Nova would be taxed twice- once to pay for our roadways, and then again to pay for infrastructure in other parts of the state. It is simply not fair. We need to elect representatives that will do something about this.

  9. @Anon 5:17:

    Umm, actually there was a referendum in 2002 to raise the sales tax in Northern Virginia by half a cent, with the funds to go to a Northern Virginia Transportation Authority that could spend the money only for transportation projects (both roads and mass transit) in Northern Virginia (the referendum material even spelled out the specific projects that would be funded).

    That referendum was defeated by Northern Virginia voters on November 5, 2002. Northern Virginians did not want to raise their taxes, even if the money were guaranteed to stay in Northern Virginia for better roads and transit here.

  10. Actually, BiCO, we're taxed plenty already. NoVa recieves only $0.30 of every tax dollar sent to Richmond. The other $0.70 goes to elsewhere.

    Now, if Richmond could see its way clear to send us an additional $0.20 of every tax dollar we send to them, well, that should just about take care of the problem.

    I, on the other hand, am in no big hurry for my kid to return to school. If somebody else wants to go out there and bust their ass so that the freshly shoveled walk can get snowed upon again on Monday evening, more power and Ben-Gay to them.

  11. 7:38, you are missing my point. As the Convict pointed out, we already lose 70% of our tax revenue. Why should our tax money all be funneled elsewhere in the state? I find the idea that Richmond says we need to raise our taxes because they are making off with all our tax revenue offensive. Why do we need to be taxed twice so that we can pay for our transit needs? Why can't we just get some representatives that will keep our money up here where it is most needed?

  12. Let's see...with Cathy Hudgings we shall expect higher taxes've guessed it...public housing!!! Because that's what we need the most! And I'm sure she'll be the 1st one tomorrow morning shoveling the school, only if it's good for a photo op.

  13. It would not matter who your state rep was, the tax revenues are put into a big pot in the capital and then doled out. You could not as a state rep say that the taxes raised in fairfax must stay in fairfax. There are plenty of reps from other parts of Virginia who would laugh at your funny suggestion. Representative government can be a pain that way.

    Funny thing about taxes leaving the jurisdiction: Your federal tax dollars are headed straight to the hinterlands as well.

    However, County property taxes stay in the county.
    If you want good stuff like excellent public transportation, roads, infrastructure, schools, police, fire and safety and an administration to make sure that all of the above gets done it costs money.

    Property taxes in Fairfax are lower than many other places. A small raise would not be the undoing of the area. In fact it might just see it through all this mess.

  14. I agree with you, 11:40. It's just too bad that we can't lower our state income tax rates and increase the county tax rates, primarily housing. At least that way, more of the money would stay in the county.

    I've got no problem helping our less for bretheren in Albemarle County. However, I'm not prepared to help them to the tune of $0.70 on the dollar. Besides, I suspect that most of that money is actually being used to keep the Repub candidates in office from that area. Let's see if they make good on their tax reduction plank.

  15. While helping the community is a wonderful opportunity for families and friends to bond it is sad that members of the community don't know how to enjoy unexpected family time and see schools as a baby sitter. In fairness to our kids, perhaps, the next project should be more retirement homes and senior day centers for when our kids are busy professionals.

  16. Hey shovel people...don't forget Dogwood. It's your friendly neighborhood ghetto school. Bet they don't touch it...

  17. HIckory Cluster knuckle dusterFebruary 14, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    The tax rate is $1.04 per $100 of assessed value on a home.

    A $350,000 house is taxed at $3640.

    Increasing the tax by .21 to $1.25 per $100 would have the same house taxed at $4375.

    A difference of $735. or an extra $61/month

    That is less than most people's cell phone plans.

    Continuing excellent public services is worth that much to me.

  18. Anonymous said...
    Hey shovel people...don't forget Dogwood. It's your friendly neighborhood ghetto school. Bet they don't touch it...

    Some (who's the School board member?) made a special point of heading in that direction, maybe reading your comments.

    Was it a good deed media event? Maybe so if it was it was a good idea. Richard Chew , my old advisory who once asked me to resign from running and ended up fifth in a five way race six years or so ago, emerged as the leader of the event which was hard to organize. He greeted the local Democratic elected leaders who arrived like clockwork.

    Restons want to help. One man arrived with his own bobcat(front end loader not a mountain cat feline) another with his own snow blower. Which makes another point I have always held. A lot of the work in Reston could well be done by volunteers who might like to do it for something to do or even the exercise reducing the annual fee significantly by reducing the hours needed by employees who sometimes seem to do little more then just drive around in their Reston trucks often deteriorating the pathways which are not made for truck travel. It's just that citizens yearn to volunteer for something more then pick up stick kind of volunteering.

    I got into the campaigning mode myself, introducing myself to strangers and and being interviewed by WTTG (ch5). I'm sorry if my campaigning for RA offended anyone there's really very little opportunity to campaign for candidates. I said recently the RA gives candidates 150 words, the Connection is giving us 100, the Reston Citizens Association is giving us 60 words (times three) and the RA gave us 20 seconds on YouTube and their Comcast channel. Some 80 to 90 of Restons don't vote and can look askance upon those of us who run. And I can well understand that we are a suspicious lot.

    I've sent the link here to all other candidates but somehow none have showed up....yet.

    Still we managed to shovel out a few places where youths (my daughter called me before we started being alerted by her YouTube cellphone connection that there would be no school on Monday) might gather to board their school bus. While doing so at one location we were interrupted by one VDot official to say that the section we were working on would be plowed rendering it full of snow. Shoveling was not a problem often times parking was but residents seeing what we were doing were good natured about our blocking their way.

  19. The real estate tax is simply flawed. There's too much fluctuation in the value of certain types of properties during business cycles and the rates end up rising to compensate for their inability to hold their value during recessions. The other problem is the tendency for more homes to be shared by multiple households with the changing demographics and with the belt-tighening during the recession. I don't want to subsidize all the other homes that have shared residencies. I would bet that 99% of them don't even pay taxes on the rental income.

  20. Come on people grab your shovel and union card and meet me and the rest of your brothers and sisters at South Lakes High School to shovel and an open ballot vote to immediately raise property taxes for 2010.

  21. So RA sends out a message - stressing that it is not an RA event but prominently naming three candidates in the upcoming elections. Is the board or some board member pushing these candidates? Now there's something the chew over. And if they are to what end?

    Reston politics is more fun than reality TV and just as transparent. If only we could vote them off after one TV season.


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