We have been doing some thinking about our Editorial Platform, which we published in this space last Wednesday. How are we, collectively, doing at achieving its goals and principles? And do any of the planks of the platform need to be changed, expanded or removed?
The Town of Warrenton is responsible for seeing to two of the last three planks of the platform – continuing an aggressive landscape beautification program on Warrenton's drab Broadview Avenue Bypass, and building a landscaped median on that road to end what we have called the “ugly plastic mispreception of our once beautiful historic county seat.”
The Town of Warrenton is making progress on both as 2012 turns into 2013, and after starts and stops and studies and stalls, we are hopeful that we will all soon begin to see improvements to the old bypass, both in terms of aesthetics and safety.
With that project, we are happy to report that the town also has plans to install “walking and biking paths built along historic and scenic byways” – or at least one of them, the old bypass. Indeed, the town has a long-range plan to join various outreaches of the community by walking and biking paths, and if building such paths on other scenic byways in the county is much more of a challenge, if we can get them in our county seat, that's at least a good start.
For the county's part, providing “educational standards improved and facilities upgraded to a level of excellence at least equal to the highest standards in Virginia,” is underway at Fauquier High School, which is well on its way to a much-needed renovation.
And, with our selection of departing Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Lewis as the 2012 Citizen of the Year, it should be apparent that we believe that what is going on within school walls is on a positive track, as well.
The final two planks are a little more challenging.
Given that the office of director of economic development has been vacant for months, we don't seem that determined to “maintaining an aggressive search for clean, new industry and businesses which will make a net positive contribution to the county tax base and provide employment opportunities for our children and generations to come.”
It's not so much the fact that the director's office has been empty – indeed, we have been advising in this space that the county not fill the position...just yet.
Fauquier County, we believe, has not yet developed the clear vision of what a new director should be doing to achieve those goals. Until that vision is fully articulated, we'd just as soon not rely on the scatter shot approach that has been our modus operandi for so long.
That goes along with the final plank in the platform: to put self-supporting county water and sewer services within each service district.
For a start, most, if not all, of our nine service districts need to be reduced – vastly reduced – in size. And we need them to be serviced.
We will need the reduced service districts to be much more densely populated in order to afford those services, and we need the smaller spaces to be much more densely utilized in order to protect our farmland and rural heritage.
We have done a fairly commendable job of protecting our open space over the years. Nearly a quarter of Fauquier County is under some sort of conservation easement, and Fauquier is a recognized leader in preserving and protecting open space.
The logical next step, it seems to us, is to work more diligently on making our urban areas as much a model for the nation as our rural areas already are.
It can be done, but not in service districts that they are nothing more than unserviced sprawl.