Happy New Year!
I want to thank Mr. Fisette for his able leadership this past year, congratulate Mr. Zimmerman as he begins his year as Chair.
Today marks the start of my 16th year in service to our community. As I look back over the years since I came here, three of Arlington’s qualities – strategic thinking, collaboration, and innovation – seem to me to have been instrumental to our community's success.
We find ourselves living in challenging times and in an anomalous place – while our nation’s economy still struggles, newly erected cranes again are popping up in our commercial corridors. At the same time that unemployment in Arlington is near four percent, among the lowest in the nation, more and more of us are seeking food and housing assistance. As our state government cuts funding for roads and transit, we see high quality transportation as the lifeblood of our community and continue to plan for an expanded multi-modal system. As mortgage foreclosures ripple across the landscape, more than ever we see the importance of ensuring affordable housing is available in our community. All of these strategic choices reflect our shared values and vision and will be important to us for years to come.
So I begin 2011 with a keen awareness of the contrast between the good fortune many of us know and the unmet needs of far too many Arlingtonians. While we can sail against the wind to an extent, we can only do so when as a community we do so together. My work this year will be driven by a commitment to strategic thinking, the kind that brings us together, that creates opportunities and fosters innovative solutions to the challenges we face. I’d like to share a couple of examples with you today
I am very pleased to report that at our regular January meeting the Board will commission a Capital Improvement Plan Working Group. Leadership will come from the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, while other members will be drawn from other commissions with direct interest in our Capital Improvement Plan. The new CIP Working Group will advise the County Board during the development of our next six year capital plan and, importantly, partnering with County staff to develop strategies to address capital maintenance funding challenges. I am delighted that I’ll be the Board's liaison to this important group - giving me the opportunity to continue collaborating with staff and citizens to enhance our capital planning process.
A second example where we will be innovating is on the implementation of the Crystal City Sector Plan, which the County Board adopted this past summer. As many of you will recall, following adoption of the new sector plan, in September, the Board created Crystal City Citizens Review Council. The TripleCRC, as I bet it will be called, will help us monitor our progress in achieving the new sector plan’s goals. This month, we will make the first appointments to the Council. Its important work will inform future decisions for Crystal City and elsewhere in the County. As the Board’s designated liaison, I’m looking forward to working with everyone – citizens, businesses, landowners, and others – to craft a "Crystal City Report Card" for the future.
Every day throughout the year, Arlington County staff strives to make our community the best it can be. I am excited to share with the community the collaborative work being done on behalf of all of us in Clarendon by staff from our County and Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control. The Board discussed the need for some new approaches to monitoring live entertainment about a year ago as part of the annual renewal of Clarendon permits. I particularly want to commend Captain Andy Penn, leader of the 2nd district police team, who has spearheaded this effort. As part of this collaboration:
* A working relationship has been formed with the Virginia ABC Agent assigned to Arlington County and the Fire Marshall’s Office. In addition, the Zoning Office has provided the 2nd District with the conditions for each Live Entertainment and dance hall permit. These partnerships will allow for coordinated inspections at Clarendon restaurants and bars, as well as other establishments in the County. Because each agency has different elements it reviews, a thorough and efficient inspection is the result of the team's visit.
* Coordinated training on regulations and compliance will be provided at the Clarendon Live Entertainment meetings by the Police, the Fire Marshall‘s Office and Virginia ABC. Clarendon Live Entertainment includes owners and managers of the businesses as well as neighbors. Training will support a continuing open exchange of information between the restaurant/bar owners/managers, residents and the police, ensuring Clarendon continues to be successful and safe.
* Finally, the Second District Team’s hours on some weekend nights have been extended to provide balanced appropriate police coverage to Clarendon businesses and neighborhoods. Based on availability, auxiliary officers will provide visible presence in the neighborhoods through this partnership.
The biggest opportunity to practice what I’m preaching over the next 12 months will be as a new member of the Metro Board. I want to thank my colleagues for their confidence in me. I plan to bring the same qualities of careful study, thoughtful questioning and a belief that collaboration and strategic thinking have the best chance to provide lasting solutions to tough problems to the work of Metro as I have to my work on Arlington’s School and County Boards. I know that I will be helped by many of you and I look forward to the challenge.
So again, Happy New Year. I look forward to collaborating with all of you - to devise innovative solutions to our real challenges - and to thinking strategically about our future.