Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

Last Tuesday, December 16, three notable events occurred almost simultaneously.

Barbara Favola was sworn in for her fourth term as a member of the Arlington County Board, Board Chair Walter Tejada gave his swan song after a year as chair, and the Arlington County 2008 Annual Report was released.

On January 1, 2009, this cycle will be completed when Barbara Favola will become Chair of the Arlington County Board for the third time.

It has been another remarkable year for the county, long considered to be one of the best run local governments in the country.

Ron Carlee, Arlington’s intrepid County Manager, summed up some of the year’s achievements in his forward to the annual report. They included:

  • The lowest tax rates in the region. Only the City of Alexandrian and the City of Fairfax are comparable.
  • A stable real estate market with the lowest foreclosure rate in the region.
  • Full employment, consistently, with the lowest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • One of the best academically ranked public school systems in the country.
  • Arlington was, once again, awarded a “rare” triple, triple A (AAA-AAA) bond rating. “As a result of its record, the County sold millions of bonds at 4.17 percent interest, one of the lowest rates for any debt in this tight credit market.”
    Other notable achievements include:
  • Receiving a Community Leadership Award from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for Arlington’s ground-breaking FitArlington program.
  • The addition of 163 affordable housing units, bringing the total number of affordable housing units in Arlington to 6001, or about 14% of the housing in the county.
  • Arlington’s first series of Diversity Dialogues, bringing together five hundred Arlingtonians to “..help Arlington residents build bridges across different cultures, age groups, and ethnic backgrounds.”
  • The designation of Wilson and Clarendon Boulevard as Great Streets in the American Planning Associations Great Places in America program. Arlington was one of eight jurisdictions nationwide so honored.
  • The approval of major mixed office, retail, and residential developments in Roslyn, on the old Bob Peck site in Ballston, on the Metro bus site also in Ballston, on the Costco site in Pentagon City – to name a few of many significant development sites. There doesn’t appear to be much of an economic slow down in Arlington!
  • The decline of the violent crime rate in Arlington by 14%.
  • The designation of Arlington as “the top place in the country to live during a recession” by Business Week magazine. Also the designation of Arlington as the “top wealth center” among municipalities in the country by BizJournals.
  • The completion of several major county building projects including Fire Station 5 in Aurora Highlands, the Fairlington Community Center, the Shirlington Bus Station, Phase II of Barcroft Park, the Lee Community Center improvements, Tyrol Hills Phase II neighborhood conservation project, a new “state of the art” Emergency Communications Center, and a new Westover Library.

This is a sampling of many positive things that have happened in and to Arlington in 2008. It is proof that Arlington is, indeed, “A Great Place to Live.”