Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Some people in Buckingham felt the county had chosen the use of the property without the proper input from all affected parties, such as Buckingham residents. Therefore, meetings were held between the Buckingham Community Civic Association and county staff earlier this year, but no changes were made.
“We are still proceeding with our initial plans to construct a miniature golf course. We’re still on that path,” said Scott McPartlin of the county’s Department of Recreation and Cultural Resources. In the interview early last month, he noted as he has many times, that he and his staff spoke with other civic associations and affected groups and received very positive feedback.
“We listened to their [the Buckingham residents’] opinion, but it did not change the direction of the project,” Mr. McPartlin said. He is the county's lead planner on this project.
The county is preparing a very detailed Request For Qualifications which will seek out developers who want to partner with the county to make the 0.45 acre space a “world-class” minigolf course, Mr. McPartlin said. The RFQ should be ready this summer. Development of the space is still some time away.
Related stories and sites…
Here is how the process works in Arlington. First, a County employee staff gets an idea for a project. Second, the employee receives approval from a supervisor to proceed. Third, the employee develops a plan for the project. Fourth, the employee contacts those advisory groups and neighborhoods that the employee thinks will support the project. Fifth, the employee holds meetings with those advisory groups and neighborhoods, ignoring others that may oppose the project. Sixth, the employee reports that the advisory groups and neighborhoods support the project, disregarding any opposing views or alternatives that the groups and neighborhoods have suggested or expressed. Seventh, the employee proceeds to finalize the project and lines up potential contractors. Eighth, the County Manager reviews the plans for the project and sees that they are progressing without any apparent opposition. Ninth, the County Manager schedules the project for a County Board meeting, recommends Board approval, and states that there are no issues to be resolved. Tenth, the County Board gives lip service to any opposing views that citizens express at the Board meeting. Eleventh, the County Board votes (often unaminously) to approve the project.
That is the "Arlington Way". It does not matter who the voters elect to the County Board or what the potential Board members may claim when they campaign or meet with civic organizations. The outcome is almost always the same.
In the case of the Minigolf course, no County employee initially did not inform the Buckingham Community Civic Association (BCCA) about County staff's plans. BCCA therefore took the initiative and asked County staff to present these plans. Staff then met with BCCA on two occassions. On both occassions, BCCA members expressed reservations or opposition to the proposed Minigolf course and asked staff to hold public meetings and forums to consider alternative uses of the site. Staff then decided to disregard BCCA's concerns. County staff is now stating that the project has neighborhood support.
This is a familiar and all to common pattern in Arlington. County officials will disregard BCCA's concerns unless BCCA acts now. BCCA needs to send letters to the County Board, the County Manager and the Parks and Recreation Commission that informs these bodies that County staff has disregarded BCCA requests to consider alternative uses of the potential Minigolf site. BCCA must do this immediately, before the "Arlington Way" proceeds any further.
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