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McLean Patch Poll: Majority Oppose LED screen in Sign in McLean Central Park

McLean Residents React to Proposed Sign at Public Hearing

UPDATE FRIDAY: The majority of folks participating in the McLean Patch poll asking if an LED screen should be included in a revamped McLean Community Center sign in McLean Central Park, have said no.

This is not a scientific poll. 57 people have responded and 75 percent opposed the proposal by the McLean Community Center board.

Please weigh in with your opinion. This is an important community issue.

UPDATE: This issue has drawn a lot of interest from the neighbors so we wanted to give you chance to express your opinions. The poll question is at the end of the story.

ORIGINAL STORY, Wednesday Nov. 16. The McLean Community Center board invited the neighbors by Monday night to hear their opinions on a proposed $90,000

The board got an earful. Primarily about its proposal to renovate the large sign in McLean Central Park at Old Dominion Drive and Dolley Madison Drive to include an LED screen.

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.

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

The most vocal opponent: Bari Levingston, president of Friends of McLean Central Park, which raised $250,000 to clean up and beautify the park. “We are astounded that we have never been invited to a meeting. . I would much rather have held these discussions at the table,” Levingston said.

"Everything that happens in the park is of grave importance to us,” she told the six board members and the estimated audience of about 40.

“We used to dream about the kinds of events that could be held" in the park. “What we would not like to see is this sign in the park,” she said.

During a portion of her presentation, McLean Community Center board president Kevin Dent and board member Craig Richardson were using their hand-held devices.

Levingston said she sent the board an e-mail a year ago asking to be included in the discussions. “I am shocked that you went forward with a plan without imput” from the Central Park Friends, she said. “Tonight is the first time we are being heard.”

Dent told her the board and its committees have talked about the signs for two years in meetings that were open to the public.* "You haven’t attended any of our meetings," he said.

“I don’t want to be the target,” Levingston said.

Dent: “Board members don’t like to be attacked personally.”

Kevin Fay, the Dranesville Representative to the Fairfax County Park Authority Board: "We agree that the signs need to be enhanced. We have a concern about the LED sign. We have no other parks with” a LED screen.

“We are not enthusiasts about electronic signs in front of all the park property,” he said. The park board will make a decision by the end of the week, he said.

Jan Auerbach, a well-known community volunteer and a former member of the MCC board: “I don’t think people here want an electronic sign.”

Auerbach recommended: renovating the existing sign and finding a cheaper vendor who would supply the plastic inserts now used to advertise upcoming events. 

She added that she was also concerned that The Alden Theater now had its own logo which would be displayed on the proposed sign. "The focus should be on the (community) center. They all should be covered with a single logo,” she said.

Sam Clay, Director of Libraries Fairfax County, said “The library board is very supportive of the sign as is.”

McLean's Dolley Madison Library will be advertised on the proposed sign.

Peter DiCenso, who lives down the street from the MCC and whose wife Lee, formerly served on the MCC board, also supported the signs.

Risa Sanders, chair of the Communications committee which proposed the new signs, said the current sign at Old Dominion and Dolley Madison "is held up by cinder blocks" and is "an eyesore.”

“Our purpose is to be able to provide information every day about exhibits  . . about our programs, performances and productions,” she said, thus the selection of an LED screen which would change twice a day. The proposal is to reface all the current directional signs.

Dranesville Supervisor John Foust who is in charge of the Community Center board also attended the public hearing.

Have an opinion on the proposed sign: You may submit comments in writing to MCC by close of business, Monday, Nov. 21. Written comments may be sent through the “Feedback” link on the homepage of the Center’s Website, or may be sent through the mail (postmarked by 11/14) to Executive Director, McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean VA 22101. 

*The McLean Community Center only recently starting publishing a schedule of its committee meetings on its website. Before, a resident wishing to find out when the MCC committees met needed to find and consult the county's schedule of public meetings.

Neither the board nor the committees publish their agendas prior to their meeting so neighbors have no idea what will be discussed.

Laura Sheridan November 16, 2011 at 03:39 PM
I think an LED sign would be too commercial in appearance for what is basically a local government facility. Also, the cost seems excessive.
Kevin Dent November 16, 2011 at 06:36 PM
A few corrections to this article 1. There were 3 speakers at the meeting who posed objections to the signage proposal. There were 8 speakers who spoke in favor of the signage proposal. Noteworthy supporters include Nancy Perry (the Executive Director of the McLean Project for the Arts), and Sam Clay (Director of Libraries in Fairfax County). A reader would not have understood this majority support from reading the article. 2. MCC will post all comment received (both written comments, and comments received at the public meeting) on its website shortly after the public comment period closes on Monday November 21. 3. Regarding the author's comment on use of handheld devices: consistent with Fairfax County practices at such public meetings, each member of the public was given 5 minutes to speak. I was chairing the meeting, and I used the stopwatch function on my phone to keep track of the 5 minute limit. I used my phone for no other purpose during the meeting. I would have told that author why I was using my phone during the meeting if the author had asked me; unfortunately, she did not. I saw a number of other people at the meeting periodically checked their phones/blackberries, etc for messages during the course of the meeting. That hardly seems unusual or newsworthy. Regards Kevin Dent Chairman of the Governing Board of MCC
Bobbi Bowman November 16, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Mr. Dent is in error. Four speakers from the public spoke in support of the proposal and they are cited in the story.
Tom Oakley November 16, 2011 at 07:23 PM
A sign is a luxury that seems excessive in these lean budgetary times. If the MCC has excess money they should lower the tax rate or refund the money. Marketing public services is not necessary.
Kathleen Helein March 22, 2012 at 08:28 PM
A news sign could be tastefully lit by a single spotlight. 90,000 dollars for an LED equipped sign is excessive and out of keeping with the character of our county parks.

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