By Chuck Foster
I can’t say being your rookie Board president has been boring. As my perpetually optimistic father used to say after both triumphs and setbacks, “I’m learning something new every day!”
In December, the new Board hit the ground running. We approved a new budget, renewed the contracts of three service providers, and received approval from the Reston Association to significantly expand the options available to homeowners in our design standards. Then the snow started and Omicron came to town. As a result, over the last few weeks, I have spent most of my time engaging with our trash, recycling, and snow-plowing service providers and fielding various complaints from the community.
Everyone knows that the pandemic has hammered small businesses and they have had to adapt in order to survive. However, the latest pressures in the form of rising prices, Omicron infections, bad weather, and staff shortages have been another major blow.
American Disposal Services (ADS) is a good example. They have been struggling with rising prices for tires, fuel, and higher wages for labor. In addition, the Omicron virus and the hot job market have resulted in staff shortages. Further, the pandemic has increased the volume of trash approximately 30 percent as people work from home and buy a lot of stuff online. And, add to the mix higher trash dumping fees from the county, fewer outlets for recyclable material, and, of course, the weather. You couldn’t script a better disaster scenario for ADS. But, to their credit, they continue to show up and do the best they can for Lakeport. Blade Runners (landscaping and snow removal) has had similar issues and, as you are aware, Ecoserve (glass recycling) has shown evidence of ceasing operations.
One issue I have spent a good amount of time on is the late-night and early-morning noise that emanates from the rear lot of the Safeway store. For some of our residents this means lost sleep and general aggravation. The unacceptable noise has two origins: a store renovation project and ongoing operations. Fairfax County has a noise ordinance that prohibits specified noises between certain hours. In order to address this problem, one resident and I have spoken with multiple Safeway store managers and employees. In addition, I have spoken with the store director and the operations manager for Chevy Chase Land, which owns the property. To date, the relief we have requested has not come. On January 20, I finally got to speak with the district manager responsible for our store and he pledged to address the problem. Sometimes the squeaky wheel has to turn a number of times before being heard. I am hopeful that, this time, we will get some relief.
Let me end on a positive note. Last year, when preparing the budget for 2022, the Board decided to increase funding for snow removal.