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Peter’s Take: What Do A Poop Fence And An APS Trailer Have In Common?

by Peter Rousselot November 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm 0

peter_rousselot_2014-12-27_for_facebookPeter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

A poop fence and an APS trailer both represent choices that our local governing bodies have made in the past. We can do much better in the future.

Background

In October, ARLnow.com posted a story about the completion of a public art installation on a sewage treatment plant fence. The County Board properly was ridiculed.

In September, ARLnow.com posted a story warning that more trailers were coming to certain schools. Most Arlington parents agree this is a bad idea.

Will the new County and School Boards continue to make choices like these?

Discussion

I believe the new Boards must make smarter choices. The new Boards must deny certain constituencies funding to which they aspire in order to provide more funding to other priorities that have greater community support.

The current County Board has dodged certain critical issues such as developer proffers for school construction. While Fairfax and Loudoun require such education proffers, our current County Board continues to claim that Arlington lacks the legal authority to require them. I say: prove it, then get it.

The new County Board should direct the County Attorney to publish a legal opinion explaining why he claims Arlington lacks the authority. After other lawyers examine the County Attorney’s opinion, if there is a consensus that Arlington indeed does lack such authority, the new County Board expeditiously should direct our Richmond legislative delegation to get that authority. Arlington needs a level legal playing field to enable us to require developers to contribute to all different types of “community benefits.”

The new County Board should lead in organizing a transparent community conversation about our next capital and operating budgets. What priorities does our community assign to using either developer proffers or general obligation bond financing for:

  • education?
  • open space acquisition?
  • affordable housing?
  • public art?
  • other?

We need to develop such priorities to direct both our tax dollars and developer contributions.

At the same time, the new School Board should lead a transparent community conversation regarding new and innovative ways to cut the cost of construction of new schools and additions.

New modular school construction technologies are much:

  • cheaper,
  • greener, and
  • faster

than the current school design and construction approach to which APS staff stubbornly clings. Cheaper new classrooms = fewer trailers.

Examples of modular construction that APS should investigate include:

Conclusion

We need to prioritize spending on core services, not on “totally redefining the traditional role of a fence.” We need more regular classrooms much faster.

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