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Hope and Harmony Gains Board

Day-Laborer group holds first advisory board meeting.

Members of Project Hope and Harmony have not let the lawsuit against the town and Loudoun County zoning complications slow their efforts to get the day-labor site operational by early November.

Group members extended 40 invitations to residents, community business owners, faith-based representatives, elected officials and others to attend a Sept. 25 meeting of the Community Advisory Board.

"We are projecting, with no hiccups, to be open in the first couple weeks of November," said Bill Threlkeld, site director. "Until we hear from the town or a higher authority — meaning the courts — we're moving forward as planned."

During the first Community Advisory Board, or CAB, meeting, members discussed the board's role with day-labor site operations, tweaked the group's charter, reviewed an updated site plan and timeline for completion and discussed transition planning, said Threlkeld.

"It was pretty much an administrative meeting," said Barbara Glakas, Herndon resident and CAB member.

"I think there were several people there that reflect the various parts of the community," she said of the people making up the board.

Members of the board range from homeowner association presidents and interested residents to owners of town-based businesses and a field consultant for 7-Eleven.

The board also has liaison members that are town employees. These members include Elizabeth Hagg, director of neighborhood resources; Toussaint Summers Jr., Chief of Police, and Capt. Larry Presgrave, Herndon Police.

Liaison invitations were also sent out to Loudoun County officials, to allow county officials the opportunity to send a representative, said Threlkeld. At this time, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York has declined to appoint a representative and other Loudoun officials have also not responded to the group's request, said Threlkeld.

"ONE MEMBER of the audience was unhappy that Loudoun County was not represented," said Threlkeld about Sunday's meeting. "We let them know that [Loudoun officials] chose not to come."

Although representatives from Loudoun County government were not in attendance, David Chesnutt, president Rockhill Estates home owners association in Sterling, was present and accepted the invitation to be on the board.

Invitations are still pending to residents of the Four Seasons and Autumn Glen home owners associations in Herndon, the Grovewood home owners association and Parkside at Dulles condominium owners association in Loudoun County and the Reflection and Rock Hill home owners associations in Fairfax County near the site, according to the most recent CAB roster.

During the meeting, one of the first things the group discussed was its charter. Because some members are on the board to be involved, but do not support the regulated day labor site, they wanted to ensure the charter said membership on the CAB was not an endorsement of the site, said Threlkeld.

The board will act in an advisory capacity and have no authority, according to its draft charter. The two primary goals of the board will be to "assist Project Hope & Harmony to appropriately integrate day laborer, resident and community views at all levels of its operations, planning and policy development," according to the charter.

Its second role will be to advocate the Governance Team on behalf of the community. The Governance Team is another body that will represent the workers and keep them informed, according to Project Hope and Harmony planning documents. The Governance Team will act as a liaison with the site operator and CAB and will facilitate the meetings with the workers to relay information from the community.

The CAB's second role will be to provide a "central focus for all strategies and mechanisms for community participation and involvement in the day labor site," according to the draft charter.

"We're mostly going to be a body that identifies concerns," said Glakas, "and then makes recommendations to the Governance Team and Project Hope and Harmony members."

The hope is, if there are any problems with the site or if there are any community concerns, citizens would come to the CAB first to discuss those issues, she said. The board may also solicit community comments to ensure things are operating properly.

AFTER REVIEWING the charter, CAB members discussed the organizational chart, which shows the relationship between the various boards, and then reviewed the timeline and upcoming site planning information, said Glakas.

In October, Project Hope and Harmony's plan for mobile offices, portable restrooms and bike racks will be reviewed by the Architectural Review Board. The administrative site plan review of the placement of facilities and infrastructure and the construction of a sidewalk will also be reviewed by the board at that time. Everything else, including the application for a permit to construct a shelter, installations and inspections, are set to immediately follow the October hearings, assuming everything is approved on schedule, according to Project Hope and Harmony's site planning timeline.

If site details are approved without any complications, the group plans to have the site operational by early to mid-November, according to the document. Because the shelter will take longer for approval, the plan is for the site to be operational before it is approved, and then constructed by the workers while they are on site.

At the end of the CAB meeting, members decided to schedule meetings every two weeks going into November, said Threlkeld.

The next meeting will focus on the transition plan to prepare the community and workers for the start up of the site, said Glakas.

This will include day labor engagement and education, law enforcement partnership and education, neighborhood and community members education and business involvement, said Threlkeld.

In the mean time, Project Hope and Harmony members are continuing regular meetings with the day workers, educating them about the move, which ways to walk to get to the new site and answering any questions they have, said Threlkeld.

Upcoming CAB meetings will be Oct. 9, 23 and Nov. 6, and all meetings are open to the public.

Anyone invited to join the board can still accept the invitation and are encouraged to attend the next meetings, said Threlkeld.

"We're still willing and looking for more Loudoun representation," said Glakas.