Citizens Work to Save Parkout

Citizens Work to Save Parkout

If the County Won't Do It, Local Citizens Say, They Will

Don McCoy, who owns and maintains distinctive Stonegate Farm on Georgetown PIke in Great Falls, is always enthused. But on Monday, the gruff-voiced, soft-hearted, former Army officer was almost ecstatic.

The beloved trash parkout in Great Falls has been saved, McCoy said. That’s the good news.

A private hauler, Castaway Recycling and Trash Removal, has agreed to terms to continue the “same service, same rate,” said McCoy.

That means four trucks, including recycling, at the parking lot at Great Falls Elementary School for $225 a year.

If there is any bad news, it is that some residents of Great Falls are now providing for themselves a service historically provided by Fairfax County. Both McCoy and Charles DiBona, another strong supporter of the parkout, have lived on Georgetown Pike almost 30 years.

WITH PRIVATIZATION, the only change in the parkout will be longer hours, McCoy said.

Saying it could not continue the service because of declining subscribers, Fairfax County last year decreased the hours the parkout was open. Presently, the hours are from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every Saturday -- three and a half hours a week.

“Now between 10 and 11 a.m. you can barely even stop because it is so crowded,” said Garrett Preis, a seven-year resident of Great Falls who is working to continue the trash service.

The hours that the trucks will be available could be a little longer, but at press time Tuesday, details had not been finalized, said Preis.

“There are probably more than 500 families who require their trash to be taken away” in Great Falls.

Remoteness and low density between homes added to the constraints imposed by long driveways accessed from narrow entrances, mean that many residents prefer to take their own trash to a central location.

That also reduces wear and tear on privately maintained driveways that are the norm in some areas of Great Falls.

Commercial haulers “are getting $480 a year for you to haul your trash to the curb -- and mess up the appearance of the neighborhood for a day, maybe more,” said McCoy, whose Stonegate Farm is a local showpiece on Georgetown Pike.

Preis said he has asked Dranesville District Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn’s office to turn over a list of names and addresses of those now using the county’s parkout in Great Falls.

“We are working very cooperatively. Mendelsohn’s office is helping us,” said Garrett Preis. “We have a problem, and we are solving it.”

“It should be a seamless transition from one situation to another,” said McCoy.

Several hundred flyers were passed out at the parkout last Saturday “to get the word out,” said Preis.

LIKE MANY GREAT FALLS residents, McCoy said he likes the parkout because “It is virtually the only thing we get for [our] rising taxes. We don’t have streetlights. We don’t have sidewalks. We pay for our own septic [systems] and wells.”

“The county can’t figure out to handle [the parkouts] at $225 per year. It is a lot of fun. You meet people and all that. But it seems to me it is one of the very few things that is provided by the county,” McCoy said, even as residential property assessments rise. The assessment on his house at Stonegate Farm went up 41 percent his year, according to county tax records.

"WE’RE TALKING TRASH,” said Preis.

“We are going to send a notice to people who are presently signed up,” he said.

“If we all had nothing else to do,” it would be sooner, he said. As details about the new service are ironed out, information will probably be distributed at the parkout in Great Falls, he said.

Although Preis said he has talked with one McLean resident about making the service available to McLean residents as well, “We are focused on Great Falls in coming weeks,” he said.