Thursday, December 19, 2013

NVRPA and Alexandria's Strategic Plan

How the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority
Connects with the City of Alexandria’s Strategic Plan

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) has its own 5-year Strategic Plan that was adopted in 2012.  NVRPA’s plan is a living document that is strongly integrated into its annual budget and guides all programs and activities of the Authority. One of the major focuses of NVRPA over the last decade has been to become a strategic plan focused organization. This transformation has lead to great growth and development of the organization, and greater value for the public.

8 minute video on NVRPA's Strategic Plan:

While the City of Alexexandria's plan was developed primarily to guide the activities of City government, below are some of the ways that NVRPA actions are supporting the goals of the City.

Alexandria's Strategic Plan:

Goal #1
Alexandria has quality development and redevelopment, support for local businesses and a strong, diverse and growing local economy.

NVRPA’s two parks in the City, Carlyle House in Old Town, and Cameron Run/Great Waves on Eisenhower Avenue, are both economic engines for the City.
·         One of the City goals is to “increase the appeal of King Street and the Waterfront to shoppers and diners.” As a major historic tourist attraction in Old Town, the Carlyle House Historic Park contributes greatly to the historic charm of this area that draws so many visitors.  For 2014, the Carlyle House is projected to attract 16,700 visitors who might otherwise not be patronizing Old Town shops.
·         Cameron Run/Great Waves is considered to be one of the top waterpark attractions in the greater metropolitan area.  As such, this waterpark attracts 92,000 visitors each year.  While many of these visitors are from Alexandria, many other visitors from other parts of the region are coming to this attraction in Alexandria and are spending money in the community contributing to the tourism economy.  Some of the economic results of this include:
o   Over 60 local people find summer employment at Great Waves.
o   Many local contractors benefit from the purchase of all sorts of supplies needed to run this operation.

 Goal #2
Alexandria respects, protects and enhances the health of its citizens and the quality of its natural environment.

While the two NVRPA parks in Alexandria are urban in nature, NVRPA has over 11,000 acres in the Northern Virginia region, with about 90% of this land being in a natural state.  As a result of this, Alexandria citizens not only benefit from cleaner air and water, but are able to camp, hike, fish and enjoy wonderful natural places within easy range of the City.  All the drinking water for Alexandria comes from the Occoquan Reservoir, which is protected by nearly 4,000 acres of NVRPA parkland.

 Goal #3
A multimodal transportation network that supports sustainable land use and provides internal mobility and regional connectivity for Alexandrians.

Connected to Alexandria via City trails, is the W&OD Trail, owned and operated by NVRPA.  This 45-mile paved trail is the central spine of the bike trail network in Northern Virginia, and its trailhead in Shirlington is accessed by many Alexandria cyclists.

Cameron Run/Great Waves is connect with a well-used bike path, and is within a short distance of two Metro Stations. Carlyle House is in the highly walkable Old Town area with good bus service available.

Goal #4
Alexandria is a community that supports and enhances the well-being, success and achievement of children, youth and families.

At Cameron Run/Great Waves, over 60 local youth get meaningful summer employment.  In many cases, this is a first-time work experience for these young people.  From this summer employment, they learn skills for life, and are part of a safe and structured environment during the summer.

Starting in the summer of 2013 and going forward, the Carlyle House is offering an educationally rich summer camp experiences for young children.  Also at the Carlyle House, over 1,400 local school children are participating in  field trips that are tied to the Standards of Leaning.

Goal #5
Alexandria is financially sustainable, efficient, community oriented and values its employees.

NVRPA follows the City’s focus on sound financial management.  For the last six years, NVRPA has received both the ‘Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting’ and the ‘Distinguished Budget Presentation Award’ from the Government Finance Officers Association.

NVRPA puts a great deal of attention on developing diverse funding sources.  As a result of this focus, the percentage of operating funding that comes to NVRPA from Alexandria and the other five member jurisdictions has gone down annually.  Currently, only 16% of the operating revenues come from the member jurisdictions, with the remaining 84% being generated by a wide variety of self-funded enterprise operations.

Goal #6
The City protects the safety and security of its residents, businesses, employees and visitors.

With the large number of visitors at Cameron Run/Great Waves, NVRPA regularly hires off-duty Alexandria police officers to provide security and safety on busy days.

Goal #7
Alexandria is a caring and inclusive community that values its rich diversity, history and culture, and promotes affordability.

The Carlyle House is a key part of the attractions that make Old Town a heritage tourism destination center and economic engine for the City.  NVRPA collaborates closely with the City’s Gadsby’s Tavern and Apothecary Museums on programs and marketing focused on historic tourism.

To promote economic accessibility of facilities like Great Waves, NVRPA started a program four years ago that allow youth to work as volunteers and earn credits towards entry to NVRPA fee-based facilities.