- Chair Mary Hynes: “new chapter in Arlington’s story”
- APS-County-community partnership
- Assessing needs, developing framework for siting, financing public facilities
- Hynes, Board Member John Vihstadt to serve as liaisons
Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hughes Hynes today announced a broad-based long-range planning effort aimed at developing a framework for assessing the County’s public facilities and establishing criteria for locating new facilities and financing their construction.
Hynes said the Arlington Community Facilities Study – a Plan for the Future will be her primary focus during her 2015 chairmanship.
“I believe we are always better when we listen to each other, seek to understand the breadth of the challenges we are facing and work together to adjust our course,” Hynes said during the Board’s January 1 Organizational Meeting. She spoke after her colleagues unanimously elected her the 2015 Board Chair and J. Walter Tejada the Board Vice Chairman.
“2015 will be a year of change, as we deal with our growing population; a year of challenges, as we continue to reinvigorate our economy; and a year of limits, as we come to grips with the realities of our physical space,” Hynes said.
“The challenge we face today, in 2015 as a community, is this: how do we move beyond our recent discord on key issues and work together to ensure that our County has the resources to meet our residents’ needs while remaining the high-quality, caring community each of us has chosen to make their home?” Hynes asked.
The County, she said, is at a crossroads similar to the one it faced forty years ago when the community came together to embrace transit-oriented development and a long-range plan built on the “grand bargain’ of concentrating development in its two Metro corridors while preserving and strengthening its single-family neighborhoods.
Grappling with challenges
Today, Hynes said, the community must grapple with challenges posed by the confluence of economic pressures posed by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations, that cost Arlington more defense-related jobs than any other community in the nation; further downsizing of the federal government that has contributed to the County’s current 20 percent office vacancy rate “sending ripples throughout our economy;” the rise in residential property values; the growth in population and school enrollment and subsequent increase in demand for public services, open space and recreational options.
“We must develop systemic strategies to meet the array of community needs rather than address any particular need or any particular site in isolation,” she said.
Vihstadt, Hynes to lead effort together
Board Member John Vihstadt will join her in serving as the Board’s liaisons to a Study Committee, made up of a cross-section of the community. The County Board will appoint the Study Committee later this month, in collaboration with the Arlington Public Schools Board, Hynes said.
“The full range of Arlington stakeholder groups will be able to assist in the study by participating in a Resident Forum, which will be asked to aid the Study Committee in its work,” Hynes said.
Hynes also said she will institute a quarterly Chairman’s Breakfast with business leaders, to increase communication between the Board and the business community. She will continue the Board’s Open Door Monday sessions, which give residents a chance to meet one-on-one with a County Board Member the first Monday of each month. Locations and dates for the Open Door Monday sessions will be posted on the County website next week. To read Hynes’ speech, visit the County website.
Tejada to focus on affordable housing, diversity
Board Vice Chairman J. Walter Tejada said that he will focus on “addressing concerns with the Crystal City and Columbia Pike corridors, continuing progress on ending homelessness, elevating awareness of and seeking support for affordable housing, supporting the Lee Highway community planning efforts, and overall, upholding progressive Arlington values.” This year, Tejada said, “I will redouble my unwavering commitment to supporting affordable housing and maintaining Arlington’s diversity in these challenging times.” The County, Tejada said, must invest more local funding and continue to seek federal funding to finance affordable housing. “This is a necessary effort to help secure our future as a successful community,” he said. To read Tejada’s speech, visit the County website.
Board members highlight 2015 priorities
Outgoing Board Chair Jay Fisette pledged “to engage the stakeholders in this community in a discussion about how we respond” to the challenges facing Arlington. “Residents and businesses will be called upon to participate with an open mind, shed some self-interest, think broadly and seek workable compromises,” Fisette said. He will continue to work this year on cementing Arlington’s position as a hub of the innovation economy; implementation of the Community Energy Plan, and revitalizing the Columbia Pike and Crystal City corridors, Fisette said. to read Fisette’s speech, visit the County website.
Board Member Libby Garvey said she plans to “spend much of this year on a personal listening tour getting a better sense of where people in Arlington think we are and where they think we should be going,” and looks forward to beginning a “strategic planning process” in 2016 that will build on Chair Hynes’ 2015 initiative. “I also look forward to working on some unfinished business from last year,” Garvey said, “especially getting much improved transit on Columbia Pike, and an outside auditor who will report to the Board.” To read Garvey’s speech, visit the County website.
Board Member John Vihstadt said that his key priorities in 2015 remain “transparency, sunshine and accountability in our County government; planning processes and working with our schools … (and) the continued revitalization of Columbia Pike and the Route 1 corridor.”
Vihstadt urged a series of steps that he said would make County government more transparent and accountable, and said that the County must “more carefully assess how our development decisions are impacting the diversity and character of our neighborhoods and our open space, as well as our schools, infrastructure and public safety demands.” He called for a “firm timeline and periodic progress reports” from County staff on transit alternatives and “additional development devices” to ensure the success of Columbia Pike and the Route 1 corridor. To read Vihstadt’s speech, visit the County website.