It was standing room only Monday night as more than 100 people packed the meeting room at the Human Service Center on Leesburg Pike for the first Seven Corners Community Visioning Workshop. I initiated the concept last fall, and asked county planning staff to prepare a background analysis of the current land use and demographic conditions in the Seven Corners area. Their findings were used as the basis for the maps and graphs used to orient community members to their charge for the evening.
Following the overview, attendees were assigned randomly to break-out sessions for facilitated small group discussions about the opportunities and challenges facing the area and creating a vision for Seven Corners. Two break-out groups were arranged for Spanish speakers, and a group of Vietnamese residents and business owners composed another session, using simultaneous translation. Group members exchanged ideas for more than an hour before re-assembling for the reports out.
Many of the opportunities, or “assets,” were similar between groups. Location close to the capital city, ethnic and cultural diversity, convenience of retail and housing choices, and sense of community were listed again and again. Similarly, there was commonality in some of the perceived challenges. Transportation, impervious surfaces, litter, and lack of walkability and bike-ability often were mentioned. Some residents expressed concern about the condition and safety of some apartment complexes in Willston. As transportation, not just traffic, came up several times, one resident noted that, just like ancient Rome, “all roads lead to Seven Corners!”
When asked for a favorite vision of the Seven Corners area, and what it could be like in 10 or 20 years, responses were quite positive. Cultural centers, more parks and green space, family-friendly restaurants, playgrounds, a place where people could live, work, and retire, bike and pedestrian improvements, and development that enriches the community were ideas that had a lot of heads nodding in the affirmative. One person suggested that an ice cream parlor would figure in her vision.
Lots of information was gathered in this first visioning workshop, and a summary will be prepared by staff to capture the thoughts of the group in preparation for the second workshop, which will be held on Monday, June 18, at 7 p.m. at the Human Services Center, 6245 Leesburg Pike in Falls Church. Participants in that session will be asked to discuss more fully some of the themes identified in the first session, and then next steps will be formulated for future work. Maps and graphs are available now on the Web site, www.fcrevit.org, and the summary will be made available prior to the June 18 meeting.
As Memorial Day kicks off the beginning of summer, it is appropriate to take a moment to observe and remember the origin of Memorial Day, a time to honor those who have died, especially in the service of their country. There will be lots of flags flying this weekend; let’s remember why, and say a quiet “thank you” every time you see Old Glory in all her glory.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]