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Arlington County Civic Federation

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Arlington County Civic Federation Highlights

Arlington Weekly News, April 2006

Good evening. I'm Beth Offenbacker, chair of community relations for the Arlington County Civic Federation, and here with me tonight is Patrick Smaldore, the federation's 49th president.

Patrick, I understand that you are this year's recipient of the Sun-Gazette Cup. Tell us about the story behind winning the award.

I served in various civic capacities for the last 21 years, and as the Ashton Heights Civic Association president, and in the last two years as the ACCF President.

Tell me about the Arlington County Civic Federation. What is it and what does it do?

The mission of the Arlington county civic federation is to empower citizens to improve their communities by mobilizing and coordinating the resources of government, business, nonprofits, the faith community, neighborhood leaders, and the citizens themselves.

What this tells you about the Arlington County Civic Federation is that it:

    - Promotes the general welfare of Arlington County in a non-partisan, non-sectarian, non-sectional, and non-political manner.

    - Reflects the wide array of interests and talents found in Arlington County

    - Is improving the quality of life in Arlington County

    - Is advocating improvements to the infrastructure of Arlington County

    - Airs and discusses issues of concern to its member organizations.

    - Acts as a sounding board for all citizens on matters of civic interest

    - Represents the "grass roots" opinions of the ordinary citizens, regardless of political or partisan affiliation, on civic matters

    - Is open and welcoming to all groups within Arlington County

    - Is the "Civic Voice" of Arlington County

I understand the federation this year is celebrating its 90th Birthday. Can you highlight a few of the federation's accomplishments over the years?

There are quite a few. Some of them include the County Manager form of government, sewer and water systems, the Central Post Office, better schools and master zoning ordinances.

I understand that the Civic Federation has a number of committees. Can you tell me about some of them and perhaps a few of the projects they've pursued this past year?

The strength of this organization is its Committees. This year as well as, last year we have seen some remarkable civic engagement by our committees.

Last year the Legislation Committee produced a Legislative Package that caught the attention of our County Board, and several of our State Delegates. Tim Wise, Chair of the Legislation Committee spoke at a Legislative forum held at George Mason University.

Last year Kathryn Scruggs, Chair of the Housing Committee, was appointed as a Civic Federation rep to the Affordable Housing Round Table. Her committee proposed, and the Civic Federation adopted a resolution supporting the conclusions of the Affordable Housing Round Table.

Beth Wollfe, our Schools Committee Chair has produced a remarkable report for the Arlington County Public School Board on closing the education gap. It was mentioned in this weeks Sun Gazette.

I understand the federation has been very active with the Open Space Master Plan and other park-related issues.

Yes, as a matter of fact, at our February meeting the Co-Chairs of the Parks and Recreation Committee, Jay Wind, and Larry Finch, proposed, and the Federation adopted a resolution supporting the Four Mile Run plan.

I understand the Civic Federation's Planning and Zoning Committee has been very active this past year. Can you give us some of the highlights of that committee's activities?

Last year Martha Moore, Co-Chair of the Planning and Zoning Committee dealt with the very complex area of Lot Coverage. At our February meeting the committee proposed and the Civic Federation adopted a resolution on the Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs). As a result of the resolution adopted at the March meeting on restoring the BZAs ability to grant execeptions to the Zoning Ordinance, she and the other Co-Chair Bill Gerhardt, have been having direct discussions with the Board of Zoning Appeals Administrator Terry Russell.

At our March meeting they made presentations on Transfer of Density Rights (TDRs) along with County Planner Colleen Connor. We have just recently asked the County Board Chairman to have the ACCF participate in the process of implementing (TDRs).

Public safety and health are always concerns of the community here in Arlington. Can you tell us a little about the federation's public services committee and what they've been doing recently? Last year Amy Levin, Chair of the Public Services Committee introduced a resolution on Police Staffing. The topic of Police Staffing is being discussed at the Chief of Police Advisory Committee (CPAC) meetings; Police Staffing will be included as part of this year Revenues and Expenditures Committee Report. Police staffing has also become part of the discussions and recommendations from the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee. At this years February meeting

The ACCF Public Services Committee had a a special ninety-minute educational program presented by the new Arlington County Public Health Director, Dr. Reuben Varghese. He presented an interactive program, with role-playing, featuring a mock epidemic or pandemic disease. Amy Levin and Jackie Snelling assisted him.

In addition to ACCF Delegates the public was invited to attend. The goal of the program was to get people thinking about the practical things they should do to prepare for this kind of public health emergency. It is really up to each one of us to see that we have nonperishable food, drinkable water, and flashlights in our homes or apartments for emergency use. We should all wash our hands frequently, and see that the gas tanks in our vehicles are never less than half full of fuel.Dr. Varghese provided everyone with factual information and indicated things that we should worry, or should not worry about.

Does the federation work with other organizations?

Yes, at our February meeting the ACCF Executive Committee proposed a resolution, which the Civic Federation adopted, supporting Civic Association Alliances

To what degree does the federation become involved in the county budget process?

At our March meeting Burt Bostwick, Chair of the Revenues and Expenditures Committee, proposed a resolution, which the Civic Federation adopted, on limiting the real estate tax rate used for the second collection to the amount required to generate planned budget funds.

Transportation is a hot topic here in Arlington. What has the federation's transportation committee been working on lately?

Jerry Auten, Chair of the Transportation Committee, has been appointed as the ACCF rep Master Transportation Plan being developed by Arlington County. He and his committee, along with the Planning and Zoning Committee are also putting together a draft resolution on mandatory sidewalk rules.

I understand that the federation passed a number of resolutions this past year. Can you highlight one or two and tell me what happens with a resolution that's passed by the federation's delegates? Where does it go next?

[Discussion of the Police Staffing Resolution passed by the Civic Federation in February 2006.]

Patrick, thanks for being with me here tonight to provide this update about the Civic Federation's many initiatives. We encourage you to visit the Arlington County Civic Federation's website at www.civfed.org for more information about how you can get involved in the federation's activities.

I'm Beth Offenbacker.

This page was last revised on: October 15, 2005.
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