Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Arlington plans for environmental sustainability

Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette spoke tonight at the monthly meeting of RAFOM, our neighborhood civic association.  Fisette discussed Arlington County's budget crunch and the work of Arlington's Community Energy and Sustainability Task Force. 

Fisette described some of the County's budget-cutting priorities.  The County Manager recommended cutting the community policing teams and reducing fire department staffing.  RAFOM and the Arlington County Civic Federation strongly opposed these cuts.  The County Board has decided not to go through with these police and fire department cuts.  Most of the budget cuts will be in the Human Services and Parks and Recreation Departments.  Fisette did not mention any additional budget cuts that the County Board added to the budget.  By law, County taxes cannot increase more than the advertised tax increase.  Perhaps the County Board's budget decisions imply that the actual tax increase will be closer to the advertised tax increase.  Fisette wryly observed that being County Board Chairman is a lot less fun in a time of sharply declining tax revenues.  The County Board will adopted the County budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2010 (FY 2011) at the County Board meeting on Apr. 24.

Fisette also discussed the importance of the ongoing work of Arlington's Community Energy and Sustainability Task Force.  Arlington's Smart Growth strategy depended on long-range planning that looked decades out at the effect of the extension of Metro train service through Arlington.  The Community Energy Plan will take a similar long-range view to reduce Arlington's greenhouse gas emissions and to increase energy efficiency and energy-source diversity.  Fisette explained that a high share of energy is wasted in being distributed over long distances to Arlington.  Local energy recovery offers great possibility for increases in efficiency.  Copenhagen, Denmark, offers an example of possibilities for Arlington.  Copenhagen's CO2 emissions per capita per year are 2.6 metric tons, compared to 19.7 metric tons per capita per year for Washington, DC.  Fisette encouraged residents to look at the work of the Community Energy and Sustainability Task Force, especially Peter Garforth's Task-Force-kickoff presentation.  He also noted that another Community Energy and Sustainability Town Hall meeting is scheduled for this October.

Other item and notes from this month's RAFOM meeting:
  • The Long Range Planning Committee group studying heights in Rosslyn had a "Skyline Forum" yesterday.  RAFOM Board members Stan Karson and Stuart Stein attended.  They said that the meeting showed welcomed concern for the Rosslyn skyline.  They hope for more attention to the need for an unobstructed view from the observation deck to be built on top of the forthcoming Central Place project. 
  • The 2'nd District Community Policing Team noted that violent crime is down in Arlington.  They also said that larceny from autos is the largest crime problem in the area.  Everyone should lock their cars and keep valuables out of sight.  They encouraged residents to report immediately suspicious activity to the police non-emergency telephone number, 703 558-2222.  The police department is currently testing 2 Segways and may purchase up to 6.  So you might see officers zipping around on Segways.
  • Requests for free trees must be made by Apr. 30.
  • Meeting attendees, including Board Chairman Jay Fisette, applauded Stan Karson being honored with the Sun-Gazette Award.
  • Four locations for the community signs have been selected.  These locations are Fairfax Rd. below the Courthouse; the Rhode St. park; Queen St. on the south side of the bridge over Rt. 50; and in the median on Meade St. just over the other Rt. 50 bridge.
  • Work on Hillside Park is ongoing and will probably be finished this autumn.
  • The RAFOM annual meeting will be on June 14 at the Top of the Town.  It will feature as speaker Sharon Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA.

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