Image: Arlington County
Politicians and county leaders who like the $42.5 million aquatics and fitness center approved for Long Bridge Park, see the economic future in Arlington as positive. Challenges will exist, sure, but the aquatics center will not push the county over some fiscal cliff and might even help avert some dips, they say. Politicians and leaders who see a future less rosy, see the aquatics center and other projects as fiscal handcuffs--money that must be paid even if the economy takes a nose dive.
Do county voters think the economic pool is half full or half empty?
They really will not be asked, at least not directly. Neither will they be asked this November if they like the aquatics center (supporters would say they already have been asked, and agreed to it over the years of planning).
What the voters this November will be asked is to allow the county to borrow $50 million for “Local Parks and Recreation.” Most of that money will go toward the aquatics center.
To see videos of a debate between Jay Fisette and Wayne Kubicki, click below. At the Committee of 100 meeting, they debated the merits of the center. --Editor
At the Committee of 100 meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 10, longtime conservative Arlington activist Wayne Kubicki took the decidedly "half empty" view.
He looked toward the horizon and saw gloom: federal sequestration this January would force across-the-board cuts in government spending which would adversely affect Arlington because our economy is so closely tied to the federal government. The General Services Administration rents a lot of office space in Arlington but is consolidating and renting less. Another major renter, the National Science Foundation, might move. Fairfax County will be developing more office space along metro’s Silver Line, drawing renters out of the county and driving down Arlington rents with a glut of floor space. Money will be needed to fund new schools as the system finds room for about 7,000 new students. In all, he found about $12 million dollars that Arlington could lose from its budget.
To commit to building and maintaining an aquatics center at this time is foolish, he said.
At the same meeting county board member Jay Fisette countered that despite the economic crash of 2008, Arlington has maintained one of the lowest unemployment rates (about 3 percent now) and has maintained the highest financial ratings among the bond rating agencies. This means that Arlington borrows money at exceptionally low rates--2.7 percent at the last issuance. When other communities shrank back and cut across the board in 2008, Arlington cut judiciously and is now in a great position to act on the aquatics center, Fisette said.