Community Center Board Approves Controversial Sign for McLean Central Park

Majority at public hearing opposed sign

The McLean Community Center board, brushing aside concerns from neighbors, has approved new directional signs costing $90,000 including a controversial electronic sign proposed for McLean Central Park in downtown.

The Fairfax County Park Authority, which owns McLean Central Park opposes the electronic sign in the park.The community center board said they would try and negotiate with the park authority while going forward with the other new signs.

The board held a public hearing on the proposed signs Nov. 14. A majority of speakers opposed the board's proposal to replace its current sign with an electronic display sign on parkland at the corner of Dolley Madison Boulevard and Old Dominion Drive.

“I think it would be absolutely a waste of this board’s time simply to throw this aside because the park authority has some issue with this,” said board member Risa Sanders. Sanders proposed the LED sign earlier this year when she headed the board's Communications Committee.

"This is now the third year that we’re been planning the design for the sign. This is a sign that we’ve worked very hard on. . . we’ve vetted it ad naseum,” she said.

The Friends of McLean Central Park, McLean's representative to the Fairfax County Park Authority, and a former MCC board member all voiced reservations about the LED screen at the public hearing. MCC Board chair Kevin Dent said the board held the public hearing at the request of Dranesville Supervisor John Foust.

The county park authority in a Nov. 30 letter to the board objecting to the  LED sign said they did not support an "electronic billboard in the center of the view shed into the park. We do not have a similar arrangement at any other park and are concerned about the way it will look, how it impacts the perception of "parkland" and about setting precedent at other park sites."

Supporters of the LED sign included the Dolley Madison Library, which is partnering with the community center on the sign, and the Friends of the Community Center.

At the board's Dec. 14 meeting, member David Sanders (no relation to Risa) said, “It’s mind boggling to me that something like this could take this long. . . Support is almost universal in the community for a" new sign, he said.

Board member Robin Walker was the only member to vote against the sign. “A sign should not cost $90,000 for the community center. . . I have an issue with the cost. It costs too much for the community center to pay.”  

Risa Sanders said that was the cost of 10 signs. The board seeks to replace its directional signs in McLean Central Park, along Ingleside Avenue and at the community center.


Citizen E December 21, 2011 at 01:55 PM
So... the argument for approving the sign is that they have spent so much time on creating the sign...?? And we wonder why the public is cynical about use of their tax dollars?
M December 21, 2011 at 02:39 PM
I don't really know how I feel about an LED sign at the edge of the park but I do have reservations about it. I am 1000% sure the current sign needs to be replaced. It is a terrible eyesore that is falling apart. Is that how we want our community represented? A piece of junk being supported by cinderblocks? To me the issue here is about the LEDs, the need for a new sign of some kind can not be argued.
Laura Sheridan December 22, 2011 at 12:32 AM
I totally agree with this comment.


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