Decades ago, Mason District was very suburban, predominantly Caucasian, and home mostly to federal workers and their families. Foreign language was an elective in our schools, kindergarten was a half-day, and Fairfax Hospital (on Mason District’s border) was one mid-rise building on Gallows Road. How things have changed!
Today, Mason District and Fairfax County is home to folks from every nation in the world, every ethnicity, every language, every religion, and every culture. It started slowly at first, in the 1970s; then the trickle became a stream, and finally, a flood.
Our diversity is trumpeted and envied, because we already had a strong foundation on which to build community – a community that may look different from decades ago, but a community still seeking the attributes, and improving upon them, that many of us identified when we first moved here. We still have good schools, housing choices, faith communities, safe streets, clean water, and clean air.
It’s still a good place to raise a family and, as the silver tsunami continues, a good place to grow old.
Planning for such growth is a major focus for local governments. Working with community members, non-profit organizations, faith communities, and others, local officials identify present and future needs of our population, young and old, and develop plans to accommodate those needs. Part of the planning includes determining costs, and how to pay for them. Growth should not surprise us; it has occurred as long as humankind has maintained history.
Today, demographers examine current trends and make forecasts for the future. Looking back, their projections have been pretty accurate. Looking forward, we anticipate that 1.6 million more residents will call the National Capital Region “home” by 2040. That’s why so much effort is going on, region-wide, to plan for new housing, new transportation options, more schools, parks, libraries, fire stations, and the like.
Some of that planning in Mason District resulted in these investments in public facilities: renovation and expansion of the George Mason Regional Library; the Thomas Jefferson Library; and the Woodrow Wilson Library, currently underway. Renovation and expansion of J.E.B. Stuart and Annandale High Schools, and a nearly complete re-do of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology; renovation and expansion of Poe Middle School, a brand new Glasgow Middle School; Mason Crest Elementary School, the first new school in Mason District in decades, followed this fall by the Bailey’s Upper Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences. Another new urban elementary school concept is being studied for a site on Columbia Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads. A new Fire Station 10 was opened earlier this month, and Fire Station 18 on Route 50 is slated for replacement next year. More than 80 additional acres of parkland have been donated or purchased in Mason District alone during the past 15 years, along with renovated fields, facilities, and programs on existing parkland.
It’s a great community effort, and it’s paying off – for everyone.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]