By. Neil Williamson, President
As Albemarle County and The City of Charlottesville continue to move forward on their comprehensive plans, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) effort entitled “Many Plans One Community” is failing to meet deadlines and has lost their project manager. The HUD funded “Livability Communities” Planning Project continues to disappoint citizens and decision makers alike.
The “Performance Measurement System Report” document was designed to be the first deliverable for the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant (p.4). The work on this deliverable was mainly completed from January 2011 to April 2011. Yet today the draft provided to the public for consideration as a part of Charlottesville’s Comprehensive Plan includes typographical errors and is missing critical information. Throughout the document are the terms “placeholder” (p.25,26, 26, 28) or “need updated Information from City and County” (p.37) All of the executive summaries in the March 15, 2013 draft (almost two years since the work was completed) contain Latin placeholders.
A review of the work plan included on the “Many Plans One Community” website indicates that all text was to be completed by January 31, 2013 to coincide with the respective Planning Commission Comprehensive Plan reviews.
The TJPDC process was designed from the outset to improve, not delay, the comprehensive plan process. In their 2011 media release kicking off the process the TJPDC described the process:
Many Plans, One Community is the portal for information exchange and public input that will inform the updates of the Charlottesville and Albemarle County comprehensive plans, the Charlottesville Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization Long Range Transportation Plan update and the development of a regional Livable Communities Plan. Many Plans, One Community will be a One-Stop Shop for all information about each of these four different plans, as well as a forum for the public to provide feedback throughout the process. It is envisioned that this process will extend limited staff resources and encourage collaboration, facilitate public information sharing and increase transparency across municipal boundaries.
Back in September, 2012 Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Sean Tubbs reported that three “One Community” TJPDC Planners had been let go earlier than planned due to budget overruns:
Two temporary employees of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission hired to help update the Albemarle and Charlottesville comprehensive plans will leave their jobs seven months earlier than expected as money from a $1 million federal grant begins to run out. . .
…“We are anticipating that we will be able to close out the project, complete all of the products
that have been promised both to HUD, the city and the
county and the MPO within the budget and within the time frames that are proposed,” Williams said.
Then on January 31, 2013 Project Manager Summer Frederick left the TJPDC to return to work for Albemarle County. The TJPDC media release indicates:
As of February 1, 2013, Mr. Williams, will be the primary point of contact for all project management issues related to the Many Plans, One Community Livability Project. Mr. Williams may be reached via phone at 434-979-7310 x110, or via email at email@example.com
After three years and nearly a million dollars, what do the citizens have to show for it? A litany of meetings, a website, partially completed reports and now TJPDC Exec Williams is taking management responsibility?
One has to wonder has the TJPDC met the terms, objectives and deadlines of the HUD Federal Grant?
And if not, who should be held responsible?
Neil Williamson is the President of the Free Enterprise Forum, a local government public policy organization located in Charlottesville. www.freeenterpriseforum.org