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Survey takes the pulse of McLean Citizens Assn. membership

Respondents want both government fiscal restraint and expanded programs

Respondents to a recent McLean Citizens Association (MCA) membership survey urged the group continue advocating for responsible development, limited county spending, school accountability, transportation improvements, more parks and recreational opportunities and tree preservation.

The survey, which was launched to members Feb. 8 and had a March 9 submission deadline, received 143 responses, or 29 percent of the 500 separate e-mail addresses in MCA’s files. The exercise was intended to help MCA better understand its members, what they care about and where the group should focus its efforts.

MCA’s board of directors was scheduled to review the survey results at its April 3 meeting, but decided to hold off until its May 1 gathering after discussions concerning the association’s annual budget resolution ran long.

Respondents offered recommendations for these topics, listed in descending order of priority:

Planning and zoning: Respondents wanted MCA to advocate for responsible planning-and-zoning practices and cohesive and balanced development, preserve established neighborhoods’ character, protect against overdevelopment and support revitalization of downtown McLean.

Transportation: Survey respondents wanted a pedestrian bridge over Dolley Madison Boulevard to McLean Central Park, measures to reduce traffic congestion on major routes, roundabout installations, pedestrian-and-bicycle safety improvements, better bus routes and advocacy to support and improve the Metrorail system.

Public safety: Respondents favored adequate funding and support for law-enforcement agencies, more police presence to deter rising crime rates, initiatives to reduce firearm-related violence,  construction of more sidewalks and pedestrian bridges, and installation of speed cameras.

Environment: Survey respondents sought more efforts to plant and preserve trees, remove invasive species, advocate for responsible development practices, address climate-change issues and boost recycling efforts.

Education: Survey takers wanted the association to seek renovations and capital improvements at McLean High School, support higher teacher salaries, oppose inclusion of controversial topics such as Critical Race Theory in school curricula and seek transparency in the School Board’s decisions.

County budgeting and taxation: Respondents were alarmed by the county’s high taxes and large budget size, favored reduced reliance on real-estate-tax revenues, desired greater accountability for the school system’s performance and funding, and supported a meals tax.

Parks: Survey takers sought creation of additional parks, more park-maintenance funding, improved playgrounds, more recreational facilities and dog parks, and improved park accessibility for all age groups.

Recreation: Respondents echoed many priorities expressed in the parks category and sought more recreational opportunities for children and seniors,  a greater variety of activities for all age groups, senior discounts, more pickleball courts, and more classes, language groups and reading clubs for adults.

Seniors: Survey takers desired advocacy for more senior centers, caregiver options, affordable housing and tax breaks for seniors.

Survey respondents ranked Tysons ahead of recreation as a priority, but the report did not detail specific recommendations except to oppose a casino there.

Respondents’ interest in the various categories differed by age group. Those 65 and older were more keen about senior-citizen issues, transportation, the environment, budgeting/taxation and Tysons. Younger respondents were more interested in education and recreation topics.

Comparing the survey’s results with 2022 U.S. Census Bureau data for the McLean/Pimmit Hills area, MCA found that its membership had smaller average household sizes (2.5 vs. 2.9 members); trended much older (63 percent ages 65 and older, vs. 27 percent for the McLean/Pimmit Hills area); had fewer houses with children (23 percent vs. 40 percent); and was more white (89 percent vs. 67 percent) and less Asian (5 percent vs. 22 percent).

Ninety-four percent of MCA respondents owned their houses, compared with 84 percent for the McLean/Pimmit Hills area, and 59 percent had lived in McLean at least 21 years (there was no comparative information for McLean/Pimmit).

While 26 percent of survey respondents had belonged to MCA for between two and five years and 33 percent were even newer to the group, 18 percent had stuck it out for between 11 and 20 years.