Each year, my staff and I host a Mason District Holiday Town Gathering, an event we created in 1996, to usher in the holiday season. At Monday night’s gathering, The Bonnie Piano Quartet (Bonnie Schuen on keyboard, Jon Min Goodland on violin, Darlene Murphy on viola, and Daren Shumate on cello) played appropriate seasonal music, and friends and neighbors from all parts of Mason District enjoyed the opportunity to partake of refreshments and share stories. They also listened to my annual report about Mason District.
While 2016 was an unusual year for our nation, it was not so different from other years in our county. Winter Storm Jonas started off the year, but considerable pre-planning by the Virginia Department of Transportation, the state agency that plows roadways in Fairfax County, and the county’s non-stop Emergency Operations Center, provided as much help as possible to keep residents safe and many roadways passable, with caution, for those who tried to venture out. The county’s hypothermia program utilized the faith community to handle the overflow of homeless persons needing shelter from the storm.
I noted the challenges of the county budget, and the land use cases that made it through the rigorous community process: Spectrum on Route 7 in Culmore was approved and is awaiting building permits; a new Bailey’s Community Shelter is planned to replace the existing old non-ADA compliant structure a few blocks away on Moncure Avenue; the Citizen’s Land Use College for the Lincolnia Area is underway; Graham Park Plaza will apply for rezoning of a portion of the site for mixed use, and eLofts will repurpose an existing office building at the eastern edge of Mason District. The Jefferson Fire Station will be replaced, Aldi is coming to the Annandale Shopping Center, and Longhorn Steakhouse opened in Skyline.
Traffic and transportation continue as major efforts. In 2016, my office handled 12 traffic calming projects, and there are 10 more requests in the queue for review in 2017. Through Truck Restrictions were approved for five more roads, and Residential Permit Parking Districts were expanded in five neighborhoods. Pedestrian connectivity projects were either completed or under construction in nine areas, with walkway or trail designs underway for 17 other areas in Mason District. Bicycle lanes are being installed to improve getting safely around Annandale, especially, by pedal power. And bus stop improvements make waiting for, and alighting from, buses safer and more comfortable.
Nearly 6,500 people voted absentee in person at the Mason District Governmental Center. Voter turnout for Mason District was 81.2 percent, slightly lower than the county overall record of 82.5 percent. Largest turnout precincts in Mason District were Barcroft with 89.4 percent, and Belvedere with 86.7 percent.
Overall, 2016 was a good year in Mason District. Our children attend great schools, our parks are well used, and our public safety responders are top-notch. The everyday aggravations of life continue to be vexing, to be sure, but we are fortunate to live in Fairfax County, the envy of most other jurisdictions anywhere in the country.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]