Opinion: Independent Progressive: On the Road Again

Opinion: Independent Progressive: On the Road Again

Now that the country is pretty much down to a pandemic of the unvaccinated with national public health policy guided by science, not weird politics, we think this is the time to make up for travel we had to cancel in 2020.

This week we are off to the Mediterranean: Malta, Greece and Greek Isles. Preparation for the trip has been complicated, unlike any in all our well-travelled lives. First, we had to renew our US passports which expire this year. Then, besides filling out the usual guest information material for the cruise line, we had to provide: CDC Certificates of Covid vaccinations; Veri-FLY verification of our Covid vaccinations; a Malta Passenger Information form with state where travel began (Virginia, classified as Amber-Covid 19 not out of control. Over half US states are classified RED-Covid out of control, travel to Malta barred!), and destinations, all for Covid contact tracing purposes; Cruise line Covid-19 Health Questionnaire; and, finally, negative Covid-19 PCR test within 72 hours before initiating travel. So far, we have completed all but the Covid-19 test. We are anxious to board our ship in Malta with our travel companions so we can truly relax. Covid testing is possible on board at any time with prompt results from the ship’s on-board lab. We’re not sure yet if we have to mask up on board.

Assuming mastery of all the protocols and restrictions for this voyage, we plan another European adventure in October. We are marshalling all positive thoughts not only to make that a reality but also to create a great upsurge in vaccinations in the US and worldwide to end the scourge of Covid-19.

At the same time, there are important things going on in Reston that part of me wishes I could be present to follow and be involved in. For example, the work of the Reston Comprehensive Plan Task Force is at a crucial stage. Citizens and some county officials are engaged in writing the chapters of what will constitute the guidelines for future growth and land use in Reston perhaps for a generation. For example, should Reston grow from about 66,000 residents to maybe 120,000?!

The chapters include an Introduction, presumably setting forth goals and guiding principles for the Plan; Land Use; Open Space; Transportation/Transit; Environmental Stewardship; Health (e.g., hospitals, healthy activities); Affordable Housing (Cathy Hudgins’ legacy?); and, Equity (more appropriate perhaps as principles in each chapter?). There is extensive citizen involvement in the writing and, as I understand it, some chapters are well along, others less so.

The final meeting of the Task Force until September was July 26. In the meantime, drafting will proceed, leading perhaps to discussion of a draft Plan after the August recess. Missing at this point in the Plan is an Implementation Chapter—that is, how implementation will be managed. Another gaping hole thus far is how open space resources and facilities to accommodate say 50,000 new residents would be managed and funded. Reston Association has evinced little interest in making the effort to assure that future residents in the Transit Station Areas pay into RA to contribute to space and facilities they will most assuredly use. Neither the former Supervisor nor her successor has exercised jawboning talents to make that happen either. So, if not RA, then whom? Perhaps the Supervisor is looking for a larger Fairfax County role managing Reston, possibly with additional taxes to pay for them? Speaking of the Supervisor…. He has been working constructively for possible relief to Lake Anne Village Center to address critical infrastructure needs…in return for a piece of property (like a parking lot?) and improved Condo management. It’s a complex undertaking. In fact, there are still two competing Condo association governing boards of directors, a dispute to be heard in court Aug. 24. Meanwhile, the County, while wisely professing neutrality, seems to be quietly putting a hand on the scales favoring one side over the other.