Three weeks ago the Fairfax County Park Authority destroyed a perfectly good footbridge built by the Miller Heights Neighborhood Association over a decade ago, one of three that enabled hundreds of people and their dogs to walk the full length of the stream trail, with views of running water and birds, including our neighborhood heron, that are priceless.
Today that bridge is being rebuilt by the Park Authority and we have temporarily brought to a half the destruction of all footbridges across the County. The old policy still in force considers footbridges built by citizens (peasants with no standing under the old mind-set) to be encroachments as well as potential safety and legal liabilities.
Below, with photographs, I tell the story of how nineteen citizens, aided by interest from the Boy Scouts of America, were able to get their footbridge back and stop — at least for a time — a very destructive policy. This is a story about re-inventing democracy. How the story ends for the County at large is not yet clear but right this minute, the Chairman (Sharon Bulova), the Park Authority, the Scouts, and our engaged citizens all look good — if this goes as I hope, we will create a new national standard in hybrid governance for stream trails, anchored in a new Scout Trailkeepers Program and perhaps even a new Eagle Scout merit badge, while taking Homeowner Associations (HOA) on a political test drive, focused on substance and divorced from the two-party duopoly that could care less about citizen grass roots rights and concerns.