Overcoming Past Mistakes

As I was quoted in your Dec. 12 Odds & Ends column ["Virginia Square Plan Lays Groundwork for Growth"] on the adoption of the Virginia Square Sector Plan by the Arlington County Board, I would like to respond and hopefully clarify what's going on.

Not only am I president of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association, but I also served for three years on the Sector Plan Review Committee. Throughout this long and, I believe, most fruitful process, we engaged in energized interaction among the county staff representatives and citizens of the community. To continue this productive process, we decided to request that our civic association be authorized to oversee and monitor the implementation of the plan.

In addition, we ensured that the plan included an action plan that specifies the steps necessary for the sector plan recommendations to be implemented. This was to ensure that it would not be ignored by the County Board in the months and years to come, and county officials in fact have committed to continue working with us.

These facts must be emphasized so that we don't get bogged down in recollecting past omissions, which were emphasized by my Arlington neighbor, Jim Pebley, in your article. Jim expresses an unwarranted, pessimistic view of what is actually a far different type of plan that provides the planned and organized channels for implementation that Jim rightly notes were lacking in other decades. What Mr. Pebley seems to be doing is to make past failures the absolute determinant of the future, and to ignore what we are trying to do in the present to make the future different. We believe we can succeed, and we hope Jim may put aside his "jaundiced view" and cease to be a prophet of doom. By working together and not by giving up, we have good hopes of a more livable Arlington.

No one can undo past mistakes, but we surely can do something more than complain about them.

Benjamin Axleroad

President, Ballston-Virginia

Square Civic Association

A Plan of Action

Jim Pebley is quoted in the Dec. 12 Extra on the new Virginia Square Sector Plan as being skeptical about its future implementation. He has good grounds based on past performance in Arlington.

It is exactly for this reason that community and staff drafters included in the new document a detailed, 70-item action agenda specifying when, how and by whom its recommendations are to be carried out.

Citizens told the County Board they didn't want the new plan to be just another study gathering dust on some shelf. The extent to which its recommendations are achieved in the future will depend on the vigilance of their oversight in the coming years. At least a specific mechanism for implementation is now in place.

Lewis Gulick

Secretary, Virginia Square

Sector Plan Review Committee