Schools Should Banish

High-Calorie Soft Drinks

I hope the Fairfax County school system ["In Fairfax, Little Debbie Is Out, and Raw Zucchini Is In," Metro, Aug. 14] is removing non-diet soft drinks from its vending machines as well.

Sure, at 312 calories per 57-gram serving, a Little Debbie Nutty Bar isn't exactly diet food, but a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola packs 155 calories, a 22-ounce bottle 280. And a 16-ounce bottle of Snapple mint-flavored iced tea (make sure you're sitting down, Fairfax nutritionists) tops the charts at 220 calories. A Snapple a day means an extra pound every couple of weeks.

It's bad enough that our minds forget to take beverage calories into account, but the story gets a lot more grim when we acknowledge that our bodies do a similar thing -- studies indicate that consumption of the same amount of excess calories from beverages as from solid foods actually results in greater weight gain due to the compensatory effects of liquid calorie consumption on other food choices.

Put that in your vending machines and drink it, Fairfax.

Christina Villafana

Washington

A Right and Responsibility

To Weigh In on MetroWest

Apparently, Robert L. Freeman was unable to muster any factual arguments in support of the Fairlee-MetroWest project, so he resorted to attacking the town of Vienna and me personally [Voices of Fairfax, Fairfax Extra, Aug. 11]. In an effort to keep the discussion focused on the issues, I'd like to respond to two misstatements in his letter.

Mr. Freeman questions Vienna's "standing" to take a position on the proposed high-rise, high-density MetroWest development less than a mile from the town's boundary. Perhaps Mr. Freeman is unaware that residents of the town are also Fairfax County residents. We pay county real estate taxes; this year property owners within the town will pay more than $30 million to Fairfax County. We vote in county elections. We enjoy and are free to exercise the right to speak to our county government and to seek participation in government decision making.

With Tysons Corner to the northeast and MetroWest to the southwest, the town of Vienna would be literally caught in the middle of two high-density areas, and the decision-making process about both areas is vital to our future. I make no apologies for speaking out on behalf of Vienna's residents on these concerns. That, as I see it, is my job.

As to his complaint about the lack of bus service from the Metro station to downtown Vienna, I would welcome Mr. Freeman's support in our requests to the county for such bus service -- requests which have, so far, been denied.

He rightly states that traffic is a regional issue, and we seek a regional approach to it. That includes addressing the effect of specific projects, such MetroWest, on our transportation system. A recent study of the MetroWest proposal identified the lack of local bus connections as a barrier to success for the project in meeting traffic targets. However, the project does not include any plans to improve this situation by increasing bus service.

Why should existing county residents -- including those who live in the town of Vienna -- bear the burden of this development when those who will profit from building it are not willing to take responsibility?

Despite Mr. Freeman's opinion of me personally, I will continue to do my best to represent the interests of Vienna's citizens. On the facts of the MetroWest issue, that means working for reduced density and height at the site, and better efforts to address the development's effects on our county's transportation system, schools, parks and other services.

Laurie Genevro Cole

Member

Vienna Town Council

A Letter Writer's Link

To County Government

I read with great interest Robert L. Freeman's recent comments in Fairfax Extra. Did you knowingly omit the fact that Mr. Freeman's wife, Linda, is office manager for Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D)?

I respect Mr. Freeman's right to express his opinions. But I would add that, as a member of the Vienna Town Council and a citizen, Laurie Cole also has every right to express her opinion about the Fairlee-MetroWest project, located south of the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro station. And I totally agree with her.

Thank goodness for the support of officials like Laurie Cole and Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.).

Linda Hansen

Fairfax