Happy New Year, Reston! It’s back to the daily grind for most of us today. It might have seemed 2012 was never going to end, particularly for those of us following the elections or the fiscal cliff debate. But the old year is over, and 2013 is here. The old baby-animals calendar is being replaced by the cute-kittens calendar (obviously, my daughter is in charge of calendar selection at my house), and the old negative presidential campaign ads will soon be replaced by negative gubernatorial campaign ads.
Now that we know what’s in and out in Reston for 2013 (although as a diehard Caps fan, I hope they make it back to the “In” list soon!), it’s time for another New Year’s tradition: resolutions. And in keeping with the tradition established last year, today I share my resolutions for RCA in 2013.
Looking over last year’s list, I'd say we did well at keeping those resolutions. Sadly, we couldn’t hit them all (we didn’t get the Reston license plate on the road, for instance), but we did meet most of them. In 2012, RCA ratified a three-year Strategic Plan, hosted a community forum on accessibility and co-sponsored another on emergency preparedness, held a candidate forum for the Congressional race, and perhaps most importantly, made great strides in working together with other organizations to meet common goals. Not bad for a year’s work.
Looking forward, I have a set of largely issue-based resolutions in mind for 2013:
* Get the Education Committee moving forward. In 2012, I resolved to get RCA involved in a wider range of issues, singling out education as one that I wanted to tackle. True to our word, RCA launched the Education Committee in the fall. The committee sketched an ambitious vision for creating an “Academic Village” in Reston, providing new educational opportunities for everyone from at-risk youth to mid-career adults.
In 2013, I hope the Committee will progress toward realizing its vision. The Academic Village is a multi-year project, and won’t be completed overnight. But I’d like to see the Committee work toward it, and reach out to Restonians interested in education to see how we can help. The Committee got off to a strong start last year under outgoing chairman George Kain. I foresee great things for the Committee under Tammi Petrine’s leadership in 2013.
* Build a coalition to secure additional funding for the Metro Silver Line. Thanks to the tireless research and analysis from Terry Maynard and the folks on Reston 2020, RCA has become a real player in the discussion of the Silver Line. In 2012, we created a dialogue with several local leaders, including our elected officials and representatives from MWAA, about ways to secure additional funding for Phase 2 of the line, which would reduce the burden on users of the Dulles Toll Road, many of whom live in Reston.
It’s become clear to me that there’s no silver bullet (so to speak) that will solve the funding issue singlehandedly. The TIFIA loans offered by the federal government, if we receive them, will help a bit, but they are not the only answer. Nor can we expect the state or the feds to pick up the tab for Phase 2. If we’re going to keep the tolls down, we’re going to need money from a variety of different sources. I’d like RCA to be a leader in identifying possible funding sources and advocating to receive those funds. We will reach out to other interested parties to form a united advocacy effort.
* Help the Master Plan Task Force allow Reston’s future growth without sacrificing quality of life. Just about everyone is frustrated with the Task Force’s slow progress in developing new planning guidelines. And there’s also a growing sense among the Task Force that it seems impossible to develop the communities that we want around the Metro stations without producing serious negative effects on traffic, open space, and quality of life for Reston’s current residents.
Fortunately, at least some Task Force members are looking for tradeoffs that will allow us to strike a balance. RCA has been actively seeking ways to allow the place-making and secure the community facilities we want, while mitigating problems like traffic. I am hopeful that by working with other Task Force members and County staff, we can find a solution that won’t be perfect, but allows all sides to meet their key priorities.
* Take the lead on preparing and holding our candidate forums. As I mentioned earlier, in 2012 we continued our long-established tradition of holding televised forums that allow Restonians to meet their candidates for elected office. I look forward to doing so again in 2013. John Lovaas has been the point man on organizing the forums throughout the years, and he hopes to transition these duties to RCA, to ensure that the forums will remain a Reston institution going forward. I plan to take a more active role in organizing the forums this year.
* Update our website and restart our newsletter to provide regular RCA news updates. In 2012, we took a big step into the 21st century by holding our elections online. And of course, I’ve kept everyone informed about RCA’s major accomplishments throughout the year in this space. But I’d like to see us do more to keep Restonians informed on our actions and activities. I asked RCA’s tech guru, Gary Walker, for a plan to update our website to provide more information to our constituents. Gary developed a plan to combine a revamped website with a regular newsletter to reach people in their inboxes and ensure that they’re up to date on RCA news. This year, I will work with Gary and the Board to make this plan a reality. It’s time for us to have a communications strategy that fits Restonians’ busy 21st-century lives.
* Take on at least one new issue. In 2012, we added education back to our portfolio, as I mentioned earlier. But there are a lot of other issues in Reston that could use some focused attention and advocacy, and I’d like to see RCA take one on, whether it be affordable housing, expanding access to technology, or something else. If we can expand our pool of volunteers (another goal of mine), we should be able to add something new to our portfolio.
As you can see, I’ve sketched out an ambitious agenda for RCA this year. But with the strong Board we have, and our cadre of committed volunteers, I believe we can meet these goals and more. Wish us the best of luck. I wish all of you a happy, healthy, and wealthy 2013.