Monday, January 04, 2010

A New Decade

Happy New Year to all of the Growler's faithful readers!

Our neighborhood is entering a new decade, and fresh opportunities for renewal and improvement now present themselves.

There are those who in the past have posted comments here that reflect their concern and frustration about what is happening in our community. Occasionally these comments descend into something close to despair.

The Growler wants to remind readers that while change doesn't happen over night, in fact our neighborhood is increasingly becoming more effective and powerful in communicating our positions and needs to City officials. The Cranky One has been told privately by several Council members that our persistent pressure on issues like public housing has been effective and helped bring about the first cracks in the City's glacial housing policies in decades. And the results of the General Election last May show that this neighborhood can make itself heard at the ballot box.

We need to keep up the momentum to make this neighborhood one of the most desirable places in the City to live. The assets are already there -- such as as access to Metro -- but quality of life issues will continue to linger unless residents are prepared to grapple with them.

What can you do?

First, plunk down your $10 and join the civic association. The group has a new identity -- as the West Old Town Citizens Association -- as well as record membership and a capable new President, Heidi Ford, who has been actively engaged in the discussions on all of the critical issues that have confronted the community in the last three years.

Few neighborhoods in Alexandria have been effective with City leadership and elected officials without a strong and active civic association.

Even if you can't attend every meeting, membership gets you on the mailing list and you can be apprised about breaking news and important issues.

But make no mistake that attending meetings is also important, especially when City officials are on hand to make presentations. The monthly meetings are held from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Durant Center and attendees have a great opportunity to raise issues with police and other officials and to get answers.

Second, watch, observe, report and contact. If you see suspicious activity, call the police. As the Growler has pointed out many times in the past, even if law enforcement can't arrive in time to stop a drug transaction in progress, the citizen contact is recorded as a "call for service" and is a critical element in determining police resources.

And if there are issues and City policies that strike you as wrong or ineffective, contact the Mayor, City Council, and the City Manager. Links to do so are provided on the right side of this blog page.

Third, get to know your neighbors. Our best protection against crime as well as poorly considered City policies lies in looking out for each other. Sometimes its hard to do this with family obligations and career demands. But community solidarity and group action are the most powerful vehicles to make this a great place to live.

So with that the Growler wishes everyone a prosperous 2010, and as always stay tuned for further developments!