Uncertainties in the Spring Air

I’m usually pretty optimistic at this time of year. It's Spring! Things are turning green outside and I’m thinking of the coming farmers market season. Insofar as those things go, we are on track as usual in 2023. But I’m also very much interested in the political environment and the current one is filled with uncertainty.                                                We’ve had a mild shock to our system with the surprise retirement of a 43-year institution, Delegate Ken Plum. Suddenly, we’ve got a scramble among a variety of at least five mostly untested Democratic candidates for Delegate. Two have run once for office and lost; another has served on the County School Board. John Farrell, a member of the Reston Association Board of Directors, is a first-time candidate for political office. And, we’ve yet to hear from the Republican Party, which to my knowledge locally has not taken on the alt right character of the national Republicans.                    

Meanwhile, our incumbent Democratic Hunter Mill District Supervisor, Walter Alcorn, has no competition in the Party. Nor has any surfaced to date on the Republican side. It appears that he may indeed cruise to re-election. What’s curious about this scenario is that Supervisor Alcorn has yet to deliver on his major campaign promises and has managed to stir up some hornets among what are usually friendly constituencies.                                 While it does appear that his top priority, the new Reston Comprehensive Plan for the next generation of Reston’s growth, will likely finally get to the Board of Supervisors for review and approval before the election, it may be close. Alcorn was true to his word, creating a genuinely community task group to draft the plan. But, it has taken over two years to cobble it together and the product, as innovative as it is, has proven a challenge to County planning staff which must assure consistency with Virginia and County rules.         `                Thanks to a private developer stepping up to lead a major public-private initiative, it appeared that Alcorn’s commitment to affordable housing would be addressed. A 400-unit project near his office would have served beneficiaries in the average middle-income range, not the lowest-income needy, but a start. Then, the developer walked, claiming they couldn’t afford to participate. It remains to be seen if the Supervisor can bring home a proposal by a coalition of nonprofits that would serve genuinely low-income people. Otherwise, he’ll have no progress on this top priority commitment.                                    Supervisor Alcorn also attempted to address revitalization at Lake Anne Village Center. His first step was to have the County pay for a consultant to do a quickie, admittedly superficial, assessment of Lake Anne infrastructure. Then, he entered into conversations with different groups in the Condominium Association, indicating a willingness to explore County financial assistance in exchange for a piece of the Center property, specifically a parking lot, and reorganization of the Association. While a new Board of Directors of the Condo association has made impressive strides stabilizing its finances and improving the physical appearance of the Center,, their relations with the Supervisor have cooled. He is seen by many as having overly involved himself in the group’s internal affairs. His latest action is another consultant contract to do a “visioning” of Lake Anne’s commercial future. A survey carried out by the consultant has generated more controversy and will be the subject of a community meeting on April 10. That is going to be exciting!

Next time we’ll get into the major business of Spring, e.g., when will the Reston Farmers Market open for 2023 and what changes can we expect?