Jay's October e-Newsletter
October 15, 2015
Hi Everyone! We’re in the midst of the fall political season while still getting lots of policy work done. September was a very productive month for Arlington. Below are some highlights of my recent activities. As always, I welcome your suggestions or questions. Thanks for all you do to keep Arlington strong!
Affordable Housing Master Plan Adopted – After three years of work by a citizen task force, and before a packed County Board room, we adopted theAffordable Housing Master Plan. While I could not compete with the emotional and compelling testimonials, my thoughts are best captured in the statement that I made that day. This plan results from serious analysis and broad involvement, and reflects our core progressive values. We know that we are victims of our own success, in that our quality of life attracts many people to our small county and thus the housing costs continue to rise. This plan provides a guide for us to ensure some level of economic diversity – and the richness that it provides – within our community. It is not easy. It is important.
Consensus on a Visionary Plan for the Courthouse Area – This is what we do so well, a long-range plan to guide development over the next decades. The centerpiece is the creation of a large park (Courthouse Square) to replace the surface parking lot, with the parking built below. A new civic center will ultimately emerge. Of special note is the improved sustainability and efficiency through district energy – an innovative system connecting the core buildings – and part of our adopted Energy Master Plan.
Abingdon Elementary School Expansion is Approved – With growing school enrollment, we continue to work closely with the Schools to plan for new and expanded facilities. Discovery Elementary School just opened last month. Abingdon will have a 30,000 sf addition, including a new gym and strong stormwater management planning.
Our Values In Action: Arlington’s New Homeless Services Center Opens – 50 year-round beds, 25 extra winter beds, 5 medical respite beds. This replaces our aging Emergency Winter Shelter and is designed to assist homeless persons regain their lives and move to self-sufficiency through services such as life skills training, employment training and mental health & substance abuse treatment. The Center is run by A-SPAN, a wonderful local non-profit. This facility will make a difference.
Collaboration with Virginia Hospital Center – The County and the Hospital have signed a non-binding Letter of Intent giving the Hospital an option to purchase 5 acres of County-owned land adjacent to the Hospital. Future negotiations will determine what combination of land and/or cash the County will receive. The Hospital is an essential asset to our community, and this will facilitate their future growth needs.
An Everyday Success…to Save $2.2 Million – Arlington’s strong fiscal management and bond rating allowed us to refinance $42.6M in past revenue bonds to a lower interest rate. Over the next 14 years, we will save $2.2M, about $176K a year. These loans were part of the $568M upgrade of our Water Pollution Control Plant, completed in 2012, which helped us meet state and federal water pollution control requirements. While many other localities are still struggling, we have one of the most advanced plants anywhere, with increased capacity to handle anticipated population growth and doing our part to protect the Chesapeake Bay.
November Election Update: Vote for Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey for County Board – With two long-standing colleagues choosing not to run for re-election, there are two open County Board seats on the ballot this November. That’s 2 out of 5. I whole-heartedly endorse the two Democrats who are running: Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey. They are smart, articulate, and committed to bringing their own approach and perspective to protect and advance Arlington’s core progressive values. This particular election year is the most challenging for Democrats, as we historically see the lowest number of voters. There is no Presidential, U.S. Senate, or even Congressional race this year. In fact, the only competitive race is for the County Board – which makes it that much more important to vote.
If you have not yet done so, please get to know Katie and Christian through their websites or in person at one of the numerous candidate forums or neighborhood receptions being hosted for them.