News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hot Take: County's Infrastructure Woes Just the Beginning Of Our Worries

A fancy Washington Post "news paper" article about Fairfax County's aging, increasingly neglected infrastructure has led to a lot of handwringing of late, if by "handwringing" you mean "people going out with their cellular telephones and posting photos of broken things to Twitter." And even our plastic fantastic planned community has its share of warts:

Crumbling 3

Crumbling 2

Crumbling 1

To be fair, the last one got fixed almost immediately after this picture was posted. But the safety cones are still sitting on top of the grate. Guess there wasn't enough money in the budget to send Elmer over with the truck to pick them up. Maybe in FY17!

It's always fun to partake in a little schatzenfreude with some of the quotes in the article:

“There is a tipping point, and I think we’re reaching it,” said Jane K. Strauss (Dranesville), a school board member since the early 1990s who chairs the panel’s budget committee. “You don’t collapse overnight. It’s a little cut here, a little here, a little here, and, then, people start to walk away.”

“A lot of people still think Fairfax County is wealthy, and maybe it is, compared to Oklahoma or someplace,” Tammi DeVan said. “But it’s not what it was.”

We're not Oklahoma, that's for sure. If we were, all those fancypants vowel-free signs around Reston would be riddled with bullet holes.

But we digress. Cracks in the pavement are never great. But there's something that's more troubling.

Yesterday, we learned that the approval process for the awesome redevelopment project of the Tall Oaks Stucco Wasteland Village Center into something decidedly less Village Center-y has been postponed at the request of the developers. Seems like they want to do a "market study," but that comes after the collapse of the much more Reston-friendly Lake Anne redevelopment, a longstanding lull in the commercial real estate market, "elite" areas notwithstanding, a sudden lack of interest in pursuing legal options by a certain bollard-hungry golf course owner with infinitely deep pockets, and a more general lack of progress on projects more than spittin' distance from the new Metro stations. If we were a county official looking at the bill for that fancy Silver Line and thinking about where all those new tax revenues are going to come from, we might be getting a tad nervous just about now.

That's a problem when Reston is dependent on county officials and our elected supervisors making deliberate decisions not to approve projects which don't make sense -- and those officials become more focused on shoring up the tax base to avert utter fiscal collapse keep Prince William from suddenly looking pretty good by comparison.

If county officials are already kinda sorta bending the rules slightly on requirements to build workforce housing - something they've made a fist about in the past -- what's keeping them from ignoring the millions of dollars of road improvements needed just to keep up with the development already in the pipeline for Reston? Or even just fixing exposed, leaking pipes full of raw sewage, for that matter?

If market conditions really do go south, then suddenly go north, a cash-strapped county could wind up allowing 99-story condos on the golf course after all, the end.

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