"He's a person who works well with other people to get things done," said Providence District Supervisor Linda of Bob Adams, one of the two people she named to the county's Lord and Lady Fairfax roster for this year. "Bob has a clear objective in his mind, and he works toward it. And he doesn't get sidetracked," she added.
Actually, Adams generally has more than one objective in mind at any given time.
Linda Byrne, one of Adams' fellow Oakton residents and another community activist, said she met Adams about eight years ago when they both were working with then-Providence District Supervisor Gerry Connolly to obtain the land for the upcoming Oakton Library. She also recalled Adams working with Connolly to obtain the land for the upcoming Oakton Park, which will be situated up the road from the library, and said she is now working with him on the Hunter Mill Road Traffic Calming Committee and the Oakton Sidewalk Committee.
Adams also was active in effecting zoning changes for the construction of the Flint Hill School, has served on the Oakton Park Planning Task Force, the Tysons Corner Task Force and the county's Transportation Advisory Committee, and is president of the Friends of the Oakton Schoolhouse, a group that has arranged to have the old schoolhouse at the corner of Route 123 and Hunter Mill Road moved to the new Oakton Park. In his off time, he coaches lacrosse.
Some of these projects have taken years to see through. One was gaining the land for the library. The citizens' group Options for Oakton, of which Adams was a leading member, worked with the Board of Supervisors to see to it that Hearthstone, the developer that purchased 19 acres in the heart of Oakton, settled for the construction of 58 single-family homes rather than 120 town homes and provided three acres for the library and one for a small park. That battle of wills began over seven years ago, and construction is just now beginning.
The Corbalis family, who owned the land that is about to become Oakton Park, was determined not to sell to the government until Adams helped convince them to do so by meeting with them privately on several occasions.
Janet Tener, another resident who has worked with Adams, recalled that he had to draw up a long-term business plan for the maintenance of the old schoolhouse — a project outside his area of expertise — in order to convince the Fairfax County Park Authority to allow the building to be moved onto parkland. He and the Friends of Oakton Schoolhouse also worked to talk the bank that is buying the property into helping to pay for the school's move and its maintenance and also solicited the support of several other organizations.
"He just seems to be motivated to better our community," said Byrne. "And I suppose a lot of that he's doing for his family."
Adams, a lawyer with a patent firm, said he had not stayed long in any one community before he and his wife moved to Oakton in 1991. "After we'd lived in Oakton a few years we decided we really loved the community and this was going to be our home, and we wanted to be active in the community," he said.
His motivation? "I think it's mainly the kids," he said, adding that, through his children's activities, he began "recognizing needs that exist in the community."
VIRTUALLY ALL of Adams' undertakings in the neighborhood have eventually met with success, and colleagues say this has much to do with his approach.
"He gets involved with things that help the general public, that they're interested in," said Byrne's husband, John.
"I think his real unique strength is his ability to reach across the table to people whose interests may be different than his," said Tener.
"He reaches out to people behind the scenes, so that by the time [an issue] gets to a meeting, there's already some rapport that's been established, and some consensus has been reached," she said.
Tener added, "He really doesn't take 'no' for an answer. He's incredibly persistent."
"He understands that there's a process, and he works through it," said Smyth. She said Adams works well with both the government and the community.
Indeed, Adams noted, "The biggest thing I've done is to get behind an idea of my supervisor and help push it forward."
When he is not working on various projects, Adams said he loves traveling — he and his family recently spent eight days in Costa Rica — and coaching, watching and playing lacrosse. Between his three sons, he said, he is generally at three games and five or six practices each week.