Falls Church City Council Member and Vice Chair of NVTA Dave Snyder (left) joins officials from NOVA Parks, the City of Falls Church, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) to open an enhanced section
of the Washington & Old Dominion Dual Trails in the City.
Image credit: Erica Hawksworth, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority

On Thursday, October 7, the Northern Virginia Park Authority formally opened the revitalized W&OD Trail. My comments on this occasion focused on three Ss, a V, and a P…or S3&VP.

Sustainability.  In less than 30 days from today, the world will gather in Glasgow Scotland to assess our global, national and individual progress and failures to reduce and mitigate climate change.  Climate change is one of the world’s existential challenges, if not the existential challenge.  The W&OD project is the kind of project that could be listed on the side of the ledger called progress, but that side of the ledger must be multiplied many times over in all our activities, especially transportation, if we are literally to save the planet and life on it as we know it.

Service. We have seen a steady and encouraging rise in alternatives to single occupancy fossil fuel vehicles for transportation.  And the pandemic has illustrated for all the vital importance of recreational facilities, including this regional facility.  This revitalized trail enhances this service for all users.  And I expect that in the future, there will be even more enhancements as the need arises. 

Safety.  The increase in volume of all trail users also brings the challenge of safety.  Just as roads can be safe or unsafe depending on how they are used, so, too, is that the case for this trail.  While we have increased the potential of safety, more will be done and is in the works, including where the trail crosses streets. Enforcement will be pursued.  While this and other public improvements are intended to enhance safety, it is ultimately the users themselves who will make this a safe trail. All stakeholders must act in order to make that happen

The W&OD project is the kind of project that could be listed on the side of the ledger called progress, but that side of the ledger must be multiplied many times over in all our activities, especially transportation, if we are literally to save the planet and life on it as we know it.

David F. Snyder

Vision.  We celebrate the vision of those who first determined that for Northern Virginia to grow and contribute to the country, a rail line was necessary.  More recently, WW II veterans, heroes and leaders such as Falls Church’s Walter Mess and Roger Neighborgall and the Park Authority members, staff, elected officials, and the public they served and serve, deserve our respect and thanks. 

Performance.  And finally, this:  The renovation of the W&OD would not have happened without the dedicated and hard work of engineers, planners, and laborers who, during a pandemic, actually converted the Vision for this trail into the Sustainability, Service, and Safety we celebrate today.

In closing, while we appropriately celebrate this project this morning, let us dedicate ourselves to the challenge of pursuing a vision, and the performance to make it a reality, that in the words of Bobby Kennedy does not simply ask ‘why’, but asks ‘why not?’  And, let us commit that in all our endeavors, we will work to improve the sustainability, service, and safety for the benefit of all our citizens.

Achieving Our Community’s Goals

This summer, U.S. News & World Report recognized the City of Falls Church as the third healthiest jurisdiction in America, reflecting such civic elements as education, public safety, and infrastructure. This achievement did not happen by accident—it is the result of hard work by citizen volunteers, taxpayers, our businesses and nonprofits, professional City staff, and elected officials. To support what we do well and address emerging issues with competence, dedication to founding principles, civility, and inclusiveness are our combined challenge and ultimate goal. We have done so effectively in the past and can do so now and into the future. In the General Election on November 2nd, I ask you, the voters, to continue to give me the opportunity to play a role in our future as a member of City Council—an honor you have previously afforded me.  

The pandemic and other events here and elsewhere remind us of the critical importance of local government in preventing and responding to emergencies and other extraordinary challenges. We have not always been right, but we have always done our level best to do right. At the same time, local government has the daily responsibility to create an inclusive and progressive environment that provides great schools, first-rate public safety services, inviting parks and library facilities, and reliable social services and transportation even as it supports businesses and historic and cultural resources. All this must be done while assuring value for each taxpayer dollar, and tax rates that are no higher than necessary. 

Working together, in the last four years, we in the independent City of Falls Church have accomplished much toward achieving every one of those goals. This critically important work is never done; it is ongoing and involves us all. Since 2017, we have built a new high school and moved forward on economic development to pay for that school; begun to resolve storm water and traffic calming issues; rebuilt the library, City Hall, and several parks; worked to address social equity concerns; helped individuals and businesses survive the pandemic; and reduced the tax rate. 

“I ask you, the voters, to continue to give me the opportunity to play a role in our future.”

~David F. Snyder

Falls Church is not an island. Recognizing this, our citizens and elected officials have long participated in regional groups. In this tradition, I have chaired the regional air quality committee that announced historic progress on clean air standards, and transportation groups that initiated new transit projects and technology and brought resources, such as bike share and a renovated W&OD Trail, home to Falls Church. I now chair the National Capital Region Emergency Preparedness Council, an umbrella group focused on our region’s collective preparedness for natural catastrophes and man-made threats.   

I fully realize that affordability is always an issue for our citizens. In response, if re-elected to City Council, I have and will continue to scour each budget, look for ways to support businesses, seek regional funding to help defray local costs, review our tax deferral program with the goal of improving it, attract more commercial tax revenue through neighborhood-friendly development, and achieve significant commercial development to offset the high-school project costs.

Finally, and perhaps most fundamental of all, is the need for us to work together to continue to achieve great things, even when we disagree. Falls Church is blessed with a citizenry of extraordinary talent and commitment. As a result, public debates are spirited, and different views are well and strongly advocated. In response, I will continue to listen to every view and perspective, and while I can’t promise agreement, I assure you I will search honestly and openly for the best results for our community.

You may reach me through this website and at davidflemingsnyder@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you, and thank you for your support.