DRCA president’s message: The continuing value of civic associations

President’s message: The continuing value of civic associations
By Bill Hendrickson

In lieu of last week’s Del Ray Citizen e-newsletter, I sent out a blanket message to current as well as former DRCA members asking all to renew their membership in the DRCA.

But my message wasn’t just about dues renewal. It was an argument about the continuing relevance and importance of civic associations in a community.

I would argue that the DRCA continues to add great value to our community by doing things that no one else does. Here are some of them:

First of all, we keep you informed about emerging issues that may affect our neighborhood. To maintain and enhance our quality of life, DRCA keeps tabs on many aspects of civic life, including land use, public safety, transportation, parks and recreation, and housing. We monitor city activity, interact with city staff, and attend key meetings to advocate for Del Ray.

Second, we give you a voice. Although the DRCA doesn’t pretend to represent all of Del Ray, we offer an opportunity for those who want to get involved to participate in discussions and vote on issues affecting the community.

Third, we care about our community. Consider some of the things we are doing now:

  • We review land use proposals and make thoughtful, constructive recommendations to the Planning Commission and City Council;
  • We work with the city on steps to protect residential streets from excessive vehicle traffic and ensure pedestrian and bicyclist safety;
  • We help maintain neighborhood parks, fund park improvements, and plant trees;
  • We support historic preservation through a plaque program and other efforts; and,
  • We provide funding for local events such as Art on the Avenue and scholarships for graduating seniors at T.C. Williams High School.

Fourth, the DRCA sponsors special events and speakers.

  • Our biennial house and garden tour is a great source for house and landscaping design ideas.
  • Our talks on Del Ray’s history, including our recent Del Ray Historic Preservation Conference, help residents understand how the neighborhood has evolved and changed.
  • An annual potluck dinner offers good food and conversation with your neighbors.
  • Candidate forums provide information about the key issues facing the City Council and School Board.
  • You get to meet your leaders. Our member of Congress, Mayor, City Council and School Board members, and other top public officials regularly speak at our meetings.

The DRCA has a proud history.

  • We fought ill-conceived development proposals, such as the proposed Redskins stadium at Potomac Yard, and worked constructively to ensure that Potomac Yard development included public benefits, including parks, fields, and improved transportation options.
  • We provided the initial funding for the research that led to the creation of Del Ray’s Town of Potomac National Register Historic District.
  • We successfully pushed the city to take steps to preserve the character and enhance the vitality of Del Ray’s business district, which led to City Council adoption of the Mount Vernon Avenue Business Area Plan.
  • We advocated for maintaining evening hours and the materials budget for our local Duncan Library

We hope you value the contributions we have made and plan to continue to make in coming years.