Mason and local elected officials meet to discuss new policies and projects

[Story published on Connect2Mason]

George Mason University staff and local elected officials met to provide updates on current projects between Mason and the community.

The Fairfax Campus Advisory Board, established in 2011, meets about four times a year to discuss ongoing projects and issues between Mason, the City of Fairfax and Fairfax County.

Supervisor John Cook, who represents the Braddock District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, chairs the board. Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne is vice-chair. Traci Claar, director of community relations, and Cathy Wolfe, director of campus planning, represent Mason. Members of nearby civic associations and county staff are also members.

On September 28, President Ángel Cabrera was in attendance to introduce himself to the board and discuss his ideas about future cooperation between the university and the community.

“This is your university,” Cabrera told the board. He explained that the relationship between the university and the community requires constant communication and that their goals do not have to contradict one another. He also explained that Mason has made significant contributions to the immediate community.

“World-class universities drive economic success and prosperity,” said Cabrera.

Silverthorne and Cook both expressed their eagerness for collaboration with the university and feel optimistic about the board’s role in fulfilling that goal.

“I think our work on campus drive, where we have a citizens advisory group…is a really new thing, and has turned out to be a really good thing,” said Cook. “I want to commend [Mason] staff for making that process work.” Over the past year, Mason held a series community forums with local residents while planning a new road that will be built between West Campus and the primary Fairfax campus.

“We look forward to working with you in a collaborative way,” Silverthorne said to Cabrera.

Later in the meeting, board members discussed progress with university sound policy and plans for hosting the World Police and Fire Games.

Barry Biggar, CEO of Visit Fairfax, updated the board on plans for hosting the 2015 World Police and Fire Games. The games, held every two years, are the second largest athletic event in the world, topped only by the summer Olympics.

“George Mason University was a very important element of the games, not just to put them on, but during the bidding process,” said Biggar.

Planning for the games will be an ongoing process. Currently, Mason is hosting nine events. Biggar added that current estimates predict that all of the games will bring the region $65-$100 million in “brand new wealth over ten days.”

“This is the largest event that will have ever happened in Fairfax County in one given time,” said Biggar.

The board also reviewed a draft of an official sound policy for the university.

The current draft states that amplified sound will be permitted from 7am to 10pm from Sunday to Thursday, and from 7am to 11pm from Friday to Saturday. Mason is in ongoing discussion with different departments to work out procedures for enforcing the policy.

“We’re still working with athletics on some pieces,” said Claar.

The new policy would impact students holding campus events that include live or amplified music. Before holding registered events, the event organizers will be notified of their sound restrictions during off-hours. The draft states that it does not apply to “naturally occurring sounds, such as cheering fans or construction noise.”

Claar said that the university police would most likely be the ones that implement the policy, but many of the details have yet to be planned out.

Mason hopes to pass the policy within the next month.

On October 3, Mason will hold a community forum to directly address some of the issues that surrounding residents have with university projects.

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