McLean: Preparing to Prosper in 2017

McLean: Preparing to Prosper in 2017

Q&A: Supervisor John Foust looks into year ahead.

(From right) Karen Caruth, mother of first-grader Cleary Caruth, thanks Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, and Bob Fuqua, the school’s principal, for making progress on the sidewalk projects. Foust told Cleary to email him photos of her riding her bike on the sidewalks once they are finished.

(From right) Karen Caruth, mother of first-grader Cleary Caruth, thanks Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, and Bob Fuqua, the school’s principal, for making progress on the sidewalk projects. Foust told Cleary to email him photos of her riding her bike on the sidewalks once they are finished. Photo by Fallon Forbush.

— Q: What are you looking forward to in 2017? Do you have any personal New Year's resolutions for yourself, or major milestones you anticipate reaching?

A: My wife and I have already planned a family vacation to Scotland during the board’s August recess.

Q: What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2016 and how will you use it to your advantage in the future?

A: I continue to be impressed by how many people in the Dranesville District are anxious to get involved and contribute to their community. Through appointments to county boards, authorities, commissions and task forces, I will continue to make service opportunities available for our amazing volunteers.

Q: What are your 2017 priorities for the district (Great Falls and McLean) and why?

  • Ensure that our excellent schools, parks, libraries, public safety and human services are adequately funded to meet the needs and expectations of the community.
  • Ensure that several important transportation projects that will help reduce congestion and improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, such as Rt. 7 widening, the Jones Branch Connector and numerous sidewalk and trails projects move forward as quickly as possible.
  • Continue efforts to revitalize downtown McLean and make it safer and more accessible for pedestrians and bikers.
  • Keep the Lewinsville Center project on schedule to deliver senior housing, a new senior center and three day care centers for our community.
  • Conclude the negotiations between the National Park Service and the Park Authority so the County can acquire Langley Fork Park and construct several new athletic fields.
  • Work with the Park Authority to select a person or entity to enter into a long-term lease under the Resident Curator Program for the Turner Farm House.
  • Work with the Park Authority and several community groups in Great Falls to transfer the management of the Grange and Old School House from the Park Authority to a nonprofit group, to give the community more control and better access to the buildings.
  • Continue to use my position as Chairman of the Board’s Transportation Committee and member of several regional commissions to advocate expansion of the American Legion Bridge as a regional transportation priority.

Q: What challenges will the district face and how will you work to get the communities through these challenges?

A: The Budget: The challenge is to adopt a budget that provides adequate funding for essential services including education, public safety and human services while controlling the tax burden on homeowners. As we struggle to maintain an acceptable level of services, we also face the need for substantial investment and re-investment in public facilities such as schools, stormwater management, parks and trails and sidewalks. Budgets should reflect a community’s priorities. As in past budget cycles, I will work with the community to determine how best to make that happen.

Tysons Development: The mixed-use transit-oriented development in Tysons is essential to the economic success of the county. However, it is important that we mitigate the impact of growth in Tysons on surrounding communities, like McLean and Vienna. I will continue to work to make sure the infrastructure, including roads, public buildings, parks and athletic fields are built in Tysons to serve Tysons.

In-fill Development: While reinvestment in our older neighborhoods is essential, infill development, in many cases, can have a negative effect on the character of the community. I will continue to work to ensure that the adverse impacts of infill development, like tree loss and storm water issues, are mitigated to the extent permitted under state law.

On all these issues, as well as other challenges that arise, I will continue to inform and solicit the feedback and help of Dranesville residents. This is a team effort.

Q: What opportunities lie ahead for the district and how will you help the communities seize these opportunities?

A: The successful completion of a number of the aforementioned projects are significant opportunities for our community: the revitalization of downtown McLean, Langley Fork, Lewinsville Center, Turner Farm House and the Grange/Old Schoolhouse will expand the number of athletic, social and economic opportunities for Dranesville residents. Construction of Phase II of the Silver Line is also resulting in opportunities to re-plan and redevelop the Dulles Rail Corridor into a vibrant, mixed-use, transit-oriented community.

Q: With the county budgeting process scheduled to be debated by the Board of Supervisors in the coming months, what is your strategy to ensure the district has the resources it needs, especially given that the meals tax referendum failed in the 2016 general election? How will public transit/schools be impacted?

A: The County must work deliberately to pursue economic opportunities and revitalization opportunities and to support and encourage a healthy partnership with the business community. As chairman of the county’s Economic Advisory Commission, I will continue to work with county staff, the Economic Development Authority, businesses and nonprofit groups to implement the numerous recommendations of the Strategic Plan to facilitate the economic success of Fairfax County.

The county is also undergoing a multi-year review of its Lines of Business (LOBs). Phase I, which was collecting feedback from residents on county services, was completed last year. Phase 2 will soon begin and will focus on the programs and services to be reviewed for improved efficiency and effectiveness. This will lead to the board’s approval of a sustainable financial plan to invest in the county’s future success. I intend to form a Citizens Advisory Committee to evaluate and make recommendations on the LOBs and to hold public meetings to hear from residents on their priorities and cost-savings ideas.

Q: Is there anything else you want your constituents to know about the year ahead?

A: First, I hope everyone has a happy and healthy New Year. Second, I encourage everyone to find a way to get involved to make our community better. There are many ways to help, from coaching a youth sports team, to serving on the board of a homeowners’ association, to delivering meals on wheels. Government cannot do it alone. We all need to pitch in to help keep Dranesville an excellent place for people to live, work and play.