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Summertime and the Commute is Easy

 SLUG TALES 

Except for the time I spent going through the public school system, I have never been so excited for summer vacation to begin.

In addition to the busy summer we have planned this year – lots of weddings and other events to attend, with beach trips and weekend getaways packed in between – I have been looking forward to school getting out just as much as any elementary, middle or high-school student. And yet, I don’t yet have children of my own and I’m not a teacher; I don’t even work for the school system.

So what does summer break mean to me, you ask? It’s very simple: no more school buses on the road and more parents working from home or taking leave for vacation, both of which usually indicate there will be less traffic and more parking available. I love summer!

When I started my job in Washington two years ago this month, school was already out for the summer and I generally had very little trouble finding commuter lots with plenty of parking. Granted, this was also before Potomac Mills drastically reduced commuter parking in February 2011. Once I started commuting, I would tell friends how easy it was to commute, especially as a Slug. My daily routine consisted of driving 10 minutes to the mall, parking and hopping in a car directly to L’Enfant Plaza. In the afternoon, I would head back to the Pentagon to catch a ride home. Simple enough.

But I was spoiled by the light rush hour traffic during the summer, and unaware of how much that would change once those pencils and books were back in action, come September. By then, I had noticed a major increase in traffic, especially on local roads, and again when crossing the 14th Street Bridge into the District.

And then parking became even more difficult following the reduction at Potomac Mills, and I became a sort of Slugging nomad. It took some time to find a commuter lot that both fit my commuting needs and had space to park. I tried various locations, methods and combinations of transportation, and then had to figure it out all over again after moving twice.

Nonetheless, all year I have been counting down the months, weeks and days to June 15, or better yet, June 18, the first day of the expectantly easier summer commute.

Last summer, I was able to park at the ever popular Horner Road commuter lot in Woodbridge almost every day of the week; whereas, during the school year, it’s generally only possible to park there on Fridays. I love the Horner Road lot because I can Slug directly to my office and back, without having to use the bus or Metro. And with the news this week that police are targeting parking violators at the Horner lot, my fingers and toes will be crossed that the parking situation this summer will look as good as last year.

 

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  • , however, that Andy has been a guadairn of this place, as much or better than any other. My essential point, which I offer respectfully, is that the local Republican Party in its current configuration, with its current focus, and under its current leadership, has taken a wrecking ball to our town. I mean, truthfully, except for Andy, where is the interest in a long-term strategy? Where is the basic awareness that we’re in a competitive environment to attract quality economic development, and that we’re at a material disadvantage to our neighboring jurisdictions that tend to be more aspirational and back that with community investment in infrastructure appropriate to a knowledge-based economy? I was wrong to suggest that Manassas compares poorly in quality of life measures compared to the rest of the developed World. But I do think that we seem at this particular point in time to be less aspirational than we have ever been in our history. Looking back at the minutes of the Manassas Town Council, and the Manassas City Council in its early years, this place was incredibly aspirational. Our belief in each other was expressed in grand projects and a desire to create a beautiful progressive town. I think we’ve lost that, somehow, by focusing on obscure minutiae, and be being subjected to the straight-jacketed mentality of the new Republicans that government is bad, that local taxes (no matter how low) are a sacrifice rather than an investment in ourselves, and that there is no higher value than low taxes. I think that view does reflect a devolution in our sense of community and in our sense of patriotism. I think its reflects a devolution in our respect for our possibilities, and I think it represents a profound change from our history as a progressive and aspirational town. I wish with all my heart that the Republican members of the City Council would stop foreshadowing their expectation that the citizens of Manassas will revolt at the slightest hint of a tax increase. Rather, they should be proactive in educating the citizenry on what has precipitated this financial crisis, educating us, also, on the dire consequences of not raising taxes. It is true, that some folks will reflexively grow furious at the notion of a RE tax increase (and that those folks are likely to scream the loudest). But, the truth is that incomes in Manassas have not decreased, and that most folks will understand, if it is explained to them, that the services offered them by the City (including the quality of the schools, the quality of their public safety, and the quality of their basic quality of life infrastructure) will be materialy effected if the tax rate is not increased substantially. We just aren’t collectively that stupid. Andy is the one guy who tends to take the long view. We just need the rest of the City Council to demonstrate similar leadership, and, as I’ve said before, the rest of us will fall in behind.

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