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.