A special panel discussion on rail to Tysons was slated for the McLean Citizen's Association (MCA) annual general membership meeting, but when MCA president Susan Turner stood at a podium in the McLean Community Center it was not to announce the expected guest speakers, but rather to announce that there would be no speakers at all.
"Marsha McAllister, Manager of Communications for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project informed me that she would not appear in a presentation that included transportation expert Bill Vincent, who is a supporter of BRT [Bus Rapid Transit]," said Turner at the May 25 meeting.
Turner added that "in an ironic twist," Bill Vincent contacted her at the last minute to cancel due to a conflicting engagement. However, even with his cancellation, McAllister still refused to attend the meeting.
McAllister defended her decision to back out of the meeting, saying that, as a representative for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, she does not debate the pros and cons of rail verses BRT.
"I was invited to speak, and then they invited Bill Vincent to speak, and the fliers were sent out saying that the two of us would be presenting," said McAllister. "We do not debate the BRT issue — we just don't do that. The issue was resolved more than four years ago, and at that point, the MCA had voted to support heavy rail over a Bus Rapid Transit system."
McAllister was referring to the fact that several years ago, both BRT and Metrorail were explored as options for the community, and the community voted overwhelmingly in favor of Metro over BRT.
Turner attempted to find alternate speakers for the annual membership meeting, but was unsuccessful.
THE MEETING WAS Turner's last as MCA president, as a new executive board was recently elected. The MCA president for the 2006-2007 term will be Tom Brock. Rob Jackson will serve as First Vice President and Jim Turner will serve as Second Vice President.
With no guest speakers, the meeting was adjourned after a brief update from the McLean Citizens Foundation (MCF) and approval of the Nominating Committee's submissions for the 2006-2007 MCA executive board.
Acting MCF President Caroline Pickens detailed the grants that were given out by the MCF over the last year.
"The McLean Citizens Foundation is the charitable arm of the McLean Citizens Association," Pickens said. "This year, $35,500 worth of grants were given by the Foundation."
Money was given to the McLean Volunteer Fire Department, Langley High School Ethics Day, Churchill Elementary School's Outdoor Odyssey, Share, the McLean Project for the Arts and the McLean Trees Foundation.
"We are constantly looking for new projects, and as you can see, some of these grants are small and some of them are very big," said Pickens, adding that because the MCF is run by a nine-person, all volunteer board, "your contribution basically stays right here in McLean."
Before the meeting ended, the MCF presented Susan Turner with an MCF T-shirt to thank her for her work as president of the MCA. In addition the MCA Board gave Turner a watering can as a parting gift for her services.
"I just want to say that it has been a great honor to serve as president in the last year," said Turner.