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Cassidy Helps Rosslyn Plan for the Future

Cecilia Cassidy is executive director of the Rosslyn Renaissance and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

<bt>Where are you originally from?

Born in Brooklyn, New York. Grew up in Southold, New York, a small town of on Long Island's North Fork.

Number of years in the community.

I've lived in south Arlington since 1975, in Arlington Village since 1978. Just moved to the Nauck community in February.

Family

Daughter, Tara, and grandson, Sean, age 8.

Education

B.A. English/Journalism, College of White Plains of Pace University

Current job/primary occupation?

Executive Director of two organizations -- Rosslyn Renaissance and Rosslyn Business Improvement District (Rosslyn BID).

When and why were Rosslyn Renaissance and the Rosslyn BID established?

Rosslyn Renaissance was created in 1992 to help in the implementation of the Rosslyn Sector Plan, and now focuses on urban design and development within Rosslyn’s boundaries. Development has stepped up since a special Rosslyn zoning district was created by the County Board in 1996. Rosslyn Renaissance plays an integral role in reviewing site plan review projects that come through the development pipeline.

The Rosslyn BID was established in 2003 to serve as a financing mechanism to provide enhanced services and amenities in the central Rosslyn business district. The BID runs programs in beautification, maintenance, ambassador services, parking and transportation, community events and marketing, and homeless services. The street banner program, LIGHT UP ROSSLYN, and the Georgetown Metro Shuttle are examples of projects run or sponsored by the BID.

Today, Rosslyn Renaissance and the BID share offices and staff in their new marketing center at 1911 North Fort Myer Drive, across from Gateway Park.

What impact in the last 15 years has Rosslyn Renaissance had on the community?

When a community is undergoing the kind of change that we see in Rosslyn, it’s important to have a single community organization that encompasses the interests and views of a broad cross-section of the entire community, inclusive of property owners, businesses, and residents. RR has served as both an information clearinghouse, and as a “Little Switzerland”, where all parties involved in development can sit at the same table and hash out the issues in a neutral environment. Unlike a civic association, RR has the staff capacity to deal in-depth and on a regular basis with urban design and community development issues.

As a result, RR’s influence on urban design, public art, public works, and community activities has been felt in most of the major projects developed here in the last 15 years – from Freedom Park and the Rosslyn Spectrum, to Waterview and Turnberry Tower, and Central Place, which is now in the development pipeline.

Meanwhile, RR’s sponsorship of neighborhood activities such as the annual Jazz Festival, lunchtime concerts, Farmer’s Market and the “Rooms with a View” lecture series, have helped foster a sense of community among residents.

Geographically, RR encompasses the areas of two civic associations, reaching from Fort Myer Heights to the Potomac River, and from the G.W. Parkway to Rhodes Street. Through organizing property owners and property managers over the years, Rosslyn Renaissance laid the groundwork for the creation of the BID, and instituted many of the programs now run by the BID.

Where do you see the BID and RR going from here?

The Rosslyn BID will be an integral part of the success of the new development in Rosslyn’s central business district, especially the Waterview and Central Place projects. The BID has the capacity to program events in our public spaces, market our retail and commercial office community, and, working hand in hand with Arlington County, serve as a catalyst for large improvement projects, such as a parking signage program and enhancement of the entries at Rosslyn Circle and Route 110, for example.

Rosslyn Renaissance will play a pivotal role in the review of the Rosslyn Sector Plan and in the further development of Rosslyn, both within and beyond the BID’s boundaries, which are restricted to the commercial office core. RR can also carry out BID-like activities beyond the BID’s borders.

You can view our web site, www.RosslynVA.org <http://www.rosslynva.org/> , or subscribe to our new magazine, ROSSLYN, scheduled to be launched this spring, to keep up-to-date on our progress. (It will be mailed free to all residents in 22209!)

Activities/interests/hobbies?

Travel, hanging out with my grandson, writing – was named a Jenny McKean Moore scholar at G.W.U. in Spring 2003.

Favorite local restaurant or place in the community?

The grounds of the Iwo Jima Memorial, and The Lincoln Memorial.

What are your community concerns? What are some ideas you have on ways to improve your community?

Affordable housing. I worked for AHC, Inc. in the late 1980s and for Jim Rouse’s Enterprise Foundation in the ‘90s – both nonprofits dedicated to housing affordable to low- and moderate income people. Our inability to provide housing affordable to service workers and public servants is as much a federal problem as a local one. But the lack of affordable housing is not a stand-alone problem. It morphs into a transportation, energy and economic development problem, when lower-income workers have to commute long distances (and use precious fuel and pollute the air) driving from the outlying spots where they CAN afford to live. Making the connection with the transportation community could help both sectors.

Rosslyn’s one-way streets. When Lynn Street and Fort Myer Drive are changed back to two-way streets, it will go a long way to eliminate Rosslyn’s 60s image as a drive-through highway, and improve tremendously its livability for pedestrians.

Work being too much fun. Community involvement in “The Arlington Way” is compelling, exciting. . . and time-consuming. The solution, rather than being frustrated by the overbooked calendars of everyone you know, can be re-instituting short drop-in visits to and from friends, which is what you learn how to do in small towns, and a neighborhood like Arlington Village. Another way to build community.

What community "hidden treasure" do you think more people should know about?

Leadership Arlington. As a member of the class of 2000, I’ve met so many people from the wide variety of organizations that serve Arlington. It serves the community well for the leaders and would-be leaders in all of Arlington’s work sectors to know and help each other.

Personal goals?

To bring my grandson to Ireland, publish more essays, find work/life balance.