Board of Supervisors, Fairfax City and George Mason University Establish Fairfax Campus Advisory Board


From a small, sleepy campus in the woods, George Mason University has grown into one of the largest universities in Virginia, gaining national distinction in a range of academic fields along the way. Such a progression has provided innumerable benefits to the County, but it certainly has not always been either smooth or trouble-free with local communities.

In an effort to minimize, and perhaps avoid, such difficulties in the future, it is in the best interests of the County, Fairfax City and Mason to foster open communication, the timely sharing of information and a collaborative decision making process.

Last month, the Fairfax City Council, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and George Mason University Board of Visitors all took a big step towards that goal by approving a Memorandum of Understanding. This item was presented to the Board by Supervisor Cook at the September 14 Board meeting and was officially signed by Mayor Robert Lederer, Chairman Sharon Bulova and Mason President Alan Merten at the University & Community Forum on September 29.

The established goals of the Advisory Board are as follows:
• Identify and promote partnerships in support of joint university-community initiatives, including but not limited to: research projects, contracts, general support and economic development
• Provide advice and counsel to the university administration concerning community-university issues and relations
• Address and resolve issues of community and university concern at the earliest possible time and the lowest working level in the decision making process.

The County, City and University are each responsible for establishing a process for appointing their own members to the Advisory Board. The County and City each have five representatives, and the university havs three. Both the Braddock District Supervisor and the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors will make appointments on behalf of Fairfax County.
The formal avenue of sharing information among the parties on issues of mutual concern, as well as providing advice and recommendations on those issues from varying perspectives is seen by all three entities as step forward in community-university relations.

 

Mason and the Braddock District Strengthen Their Relationship, a Transportation Plan Moves Forward

As explained in the article above, during the September 29 meeting of the Braddock/Mason Forum, an advisory board was formed to enhance and improve the communication flow between George Mason University, Fairfax County and Fairfax City.

Also at that meeting, Mason presented an update on its current construction program and provided its final recommendations on future Transportation Improvements.
The Plan, as drafted, responds to many community concerns brought forward last May. It provides numerous enhancements on the campus itself, including new transit facilities, shuttle service, new primary walkways and bike routes, improved “wayfinding” signage and a proposal for dedicated student parking with different per semester costs. An important feature of the plan included improvements to regional transportation, particularly along Braddock Road, Rt. 123, University Boulevard and Roanoke River Road.

One significant proposal was to create a new “western bypass” onto the campus at the intersection of Braddock Road and Prestwick Drive, west of Rt. 123. The bypass would connect with University Drive and create a new spine road that would connect directly to the campus over Rt. 123. An additional proposal was to create new bus service from the Burke VRE Station to the campus and possibly beyond.

More detailed discussions will certainly be held with impacted communities like Fairfax Villa, Robinson Square and the Chancery on this proposal. George Mason hopes to secure funds for these projects in the near future. It is important for Braddock residents that Mason is looking at its impact on regional traffic patterns, and the congestion that its increased student population, coupled with events at the Patriot Center, cause to commuters. To review the presentation made at the September 29 meeting, please go to: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/braddock/pdfs/masonbraddock.pdf.
To email comments to GMU on the plan: masontransplan@vhb.com and please copy Braddock@fairfaxcounty.gov so that your thoughts can be part of future planning.


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