The annual “best” and “worst” lists that punctuate the end of the old year and make way for the new may be nearly exhausted, but perhaps there’s room for just a few more items, this time focusing on Mason District and Fairfax County. So here are some brickbats and bouquets for your consideration. (Note: When I last used the term “brick-bat,” I was asked what it meant. The dictionary defines “brickbat” as a brick, especially when used as a weapon or a missile, or an unfavorable remark or criticism. It is the latter that is used here.)
· A bouquet to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT), the Willston Task Force, and many others who advocated for the long-awaited pedestrian bridge across Route 50 at Seven Corners. The October ground-breaking was followed quickly by construction activity. The new bridge is scheduled for completion in mid-2008.
· A bouquets also to FCDOT staff who are working with many Mason District neighborhoods to address traffic calming and cut-through issues. Reducing our speed through neighborhoods ought to be everyone’s New Year’s resolution!
· A brickbat to the smarties who spray paint fences, buildings, and other surfaces, and demonstrate their lack of respect for our community.
· Bouquets to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, J.E.B. Stuart, Annandale, Falls Church, and Woodson High Schools, serving Mason District students. National rankings nearly always include all of these fine schools – a tribute to the teachers, the students, and the community that supports our first-rate public education system.
· Brickbats to the drivers who habitually blow through stop signs and red lights. Are you so important that you get to ignore the rules the rest of us live by?
· A brickbat for the arsonist who set fire to the Lacey Center in January, and bouquets to the unstinting work by a Mason District detective who tracked the perpetrator down in West Virginia. Sentencing is scheduled for February.
· Bouquets to the community volunteers who work to improve Mason District. They include Jasleen Corrie and Susie Lotharius who spearheaded the effort to renovate and renew Munson Hill Park; Annandale United Methodist Church’s “Earth and Spirit” group who organized an all-day tree planting effort at Mason District Park last spring; Arthur Lopez who created “Nadar por Vida” (Swimming for Life), an after-school swim program for at-risk youth from Holmes and Glasgow Middle Schools; and Bailey’s Beautification Alliance, led by Priscilla Weck and Peg Corl, improving the public landscape of Culmore through private efforts.
· Bouquets for the voters who turned out in this fall’s local and state elections. I personally was delighted with the results, but the real plus was the opportunity to exercise a bedrock democratic right openly and peacefully. More of the same is anticipated in the presidential year of 2008.
Happy New Year!