There are a lot of choices we will make on Nov. 6, but there is one that will improve the quality of life for all Fairfax residents, and it is not subject to competing politicians or last minute veto. The authorization to issue $25 million of bonds to improve three public libraries and relocate one will result in changes that we can see, feel and enjoy.
The John Marshall Community Library and Pohick and Tysons-Pimmitt Regional libraries will be renovated and brought up to current standards for modern libraries by upgrading building systems, computer access and energy efficiency. In addition, quiet and group study areas will be added along with conference space. Improvements to building systems will save on energy costs, and enhancements to study areas and conference space will benefit everyone from students to researchers to anyone who wants to learn something new.
In addition to upgrading these three libraries, $10 million of the bond issue will be dedicated to relocating the Reston Regional Library. The current Reston Library building, located just north of Reston Town Center, is in an area slated for redevelopment, and bond funds will be used for site studies, design and construction once a new site is identified.
Residents of Fairfax County need look no further than the Martha Washington Library in the Alexandria section of the county or the Richard Byrd Library in Springfield to see concrete results from past bond issues. The renovations to these facilities dramatically changed the library experience by offering a brighter, more functional building to better meet the needs of library users. In addition, they are LEED certified, a peer-reviewed process to validate a decrease in construction costs while reducing negative environmental impacts and improving the health and well-being of library employees and users.
The value of our 22 libraries is reflected in the nearly six million visits made last year. And our libraries do much more than check out books or DVDs. They are used for everything from club and community meetings to education. Stop by any of our libraries after school and see how many children are reading, receiving homework help or being tutored by one of hundreds of volunteers. Many of our libraries are literally bursting at the seams and the improvements the bond issue will provide will greatly lower the strain.
Fairfax County enjoys a triple-A rating from both Moody's and Standard and Poor, which translates into lower interest costs for bonds and a savings to taxpayers. The triple-A rating also reflects the judicious use of borrowing by the county and a prudent financial management policy designed to protect the triple-A rating. And there is payback to all residents when these libraries are renovated: when they enter a brighter and more functional building which meets their needs, whether to check out a book, hold a meeting or do some research.
Chris and Rich Peterson
Members of the Friends of the Richard Byrd Library