Post 5: “The Name is Bond.”

First in a Series on the Fairfax County Park Bond

By Tony Vellucci

There are brands and sayings that are known the world over, regardless of language or culture – like Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz, and of course – The Name is Bond.  James Bond!  Well, this lead article is not about any international mystery or spy-story.  Rather, it’s about a different bond – the Park Bond.

Recently, Fairfax voters approved a $182 million public safety bond question on the Nov. 6, 2018 general election ballot.   Bond funds will be used to build, renovate or expand four fire stations, three police facilities, and courtrooms.

Many of the county’s agencies (Public Works, Libraries, Parks) use funds raised from bonds outside of taxes for building, renovating or expanding county facilities to support constituent services.  The question often arises:  why not just raise taxes and pay as you go.  Well, there’s lots of reasons why the county issues bonds, and the county website provides copious information on the process and the who, what, where, when and why.

Suffice it to say, if you are going to build an addition to your house, you probably don’t have the funds on hand to pay for it outright; so, you get a loan.  The county is doing essentially the same thing, but is asking you the voter, if you agree, before going out and saddling you with the resulting debt.  That’s why we have bond referendums in November.

This article, and those that follow, will focus on bonds issued by the county to support the Fairfax County Park Authority.  Park Authority bonds usually come before voters every four years and if the past is any guide, we can expect the next one in November 2020.

Over the course of the next few months, we will look at the who what where when and why of how the Park Authority does bonds.

We’ll look at the Park Authority Board and the Bond Committee processes, policies and procedures; how the staff develops bond project recommendations and how the proposed bond package is fed to the board.

We’ll look at bond interaction with the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and how the proposed bond package lines up with the Park Authority Needs Assessment.  Is the Park Authority identifying bond projects that fit and dovetail with the Needs Assessment?

We’ll look at how a new community grass roots effort – the Community Vision Plan – can play a role in identifying bond projects along with Park Authority-developed park master plans.

We’ll also look at past bond packages and do a quick hindsight-assessment on them.

The reason for all this is to ensure that you, the citizen, have input to the bond package so that it satisfies your needs, and so that you cast an informed vote.  After all, the bottom line is that this is not fake money.  It’s our money and since bonds are usually issued for 30 years. it’s a long-term liability that we the voters agree to take on.

The next article will discuss the Park Authority Board, the bond committee and the timeline for how a bond gets from the drawing board to the November ballot.

Tony Vellucci is a former Fairfax County Park Authority Board member, Braddock District (2011-2017).

Post 3: Open the Parks for Improvement by People, Please!

A Crying Need for An Open Door to the Public to Work Together with Government for Better Parks: A slightly long post exploring this idea

New York City long ago saw the need to unleash citizen power on parks.   Maintenance needs grew, funding shrunk.   There was a need for a program of encouragement and facilitation; citizens could take on development and maintenance, AND bring parks to life with their own vision and energy.   One result was the New York Partnership for Parks, and its People Make Parks program — please click the link to get a taste of what they do:

“We equip people, organizations and government with the skills and tools they need to transform these [park] spaces into dynamic community assets.”

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Post 1: Hello from Parks for People

Covering the world of parks in the Fairfax County, Virginia Area

[updated July 16]

Parks are a major public resource, representing major public investment.  Per the Fairfax County Park Authority’s recent annual report, its nearly 24,000 acres of land, building and equipment of that agency are valued at $624 million.  It employs thousands, and thousands more contribute to parks as volunteers and donors.  We can’t put a number on inherent value as natural holdings and public commons.   Parks touch on every aspect of physical, social, environmental, economic, cultural, and educational health and vitality.

This blog and site will focus on parks, with an emphasis on advocating for the role of people.  How can we citizens best work together with each other and with our government for parks that are at their best?  In the most enjoyable and productive ways?  Using creativity and sound practices? What information, what tools and kinds of discussions do we need for the best outcomes?

We’ll publish regularly, and grow the site with other useful pages, such as the Reference Page with its lists of organizations and publications you may be interested in; and we’ll seek to bring people and organizations together.

This is dedicated to our parks and to all of us in Fairfax County.  Below I write about why this blog is important to me.

Marie Reinsdorf, editor

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