By Amy Gardner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III is merely retiring at the end of this year -- it's nothing more dire -- but the business of paying tribute to his nearly 30 years in office began in earnest yesterday at the Fairfax County Government Center.
Make that the Tom Davis Government Center. That's what Supervisor Pat S. Herrity (R-Springfield) would like to call the main county office building now that Davis (R) is leaving Congress. There's the Herrity Building across the way, after all -- named after Pat's father, the late board chairman, John F. "Jack" Herrity. And Davis was board chairman when the county moved into the sprawling granite palace dubbed the "Taj Mahal" by detractors who found it extravagant.
"We named the Herrity Building after my dad," Herrity said. "We named a shelter after [former board chairman] Kate Hanley. We can name this after Congressman Davis."
Fairfax County has a history of honoring its leaders by naming landmarks after them. There's the Pennino Building in the government complex, named after former board vice chairman Martha V. Pennino. There's the Jack Herrity Parkway, also known as the Fairfax County Parkway. There's the Audrey Moore Recreation Center, named after yet another former chairman. And most recently, county leaders christened the Elaine N. McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center after the younger Herrity's predecessor, who retired this year.
The discussion started yesterday when Supervisor Penelope A. Gross (D-Mason), who holds the seat Davis first occupied in 1980, proposed changing the name of Annandale Center Drive in her district to Tom Davis Drive.
The measure, proposed by the Annandale Chamber of Commerce, drew unanimous support from the board. But it also prompted a discussion about whether a block-and-a-half stretch of road is sufficient to honor Davis's career, during which he secured millions of dollars for highway improvements, helped transfer the former Lorton prison property in southern Fairfax to the county for recreation and school use and looked out for the interests of thousands of federal workers who call Northern Virginia home.
"With all that the congressman has done as a supervisor, as chairman of the board and in Washington, I think he is deserving of something more," Herrity said, adding that naming the Lorton property after Davis is another idea the board should consider.
"I agree," said Gerald E. Connolly (D), the current board chairman, who is running for Davis's seat and might someday see his own name in lights somewhere in Fairfax. The options, of course, are dwindling -- as Gross noted when she quietly pointed out that "the parkway is already taken."
Davis, for his part, demurred when asked what he thought about the topic.
"If I get a fire hydrant, I'm a happy guy," he said. "I have two dogs, as you know. If I got two hydrants, right on my street, they would be well-utilized."