County water Authority directors debate Chamber membership
By Sean Tubbs
Friday, June 11, 2010
The $34.7 million budget that the
Albemarle County Service Authority
(ACSA) Board of Directors will vote on next Thursday includes $1,100 to pay for the authority to join two local business organizations.
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New executive director
suggested the county water authority join the
Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce
Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development
in order to gain insight on future development by informally meeting with members of the business community.
“It’s the accessibility, it’s the networking, it’s the information,” O’Connell said. As an example, O’Connell said he recently attended a Chamber-sponsored event for the opening of a business in
Old Trail Village
“I ran into a developer there, and I got an insight into what he was thinking about development,” said O’Connell. “It’s not to try to get into influencing any development. It is understanding what’s going to happen.”
ACSA Board member
, who was recently re-appointed by Supervisor
, called the Chamber of Commerce a “valuable organization.” However, Palmer said during a budget public hearing yesterday that she was concerned about joining what she perceived as two advocacy organizations.
“I think it’s very, very important that… we look at the positions that those advocacy groups take and make sure that there’s no conflict between our goals and theirs,” Palmer said.
Specifically, Palmer pointed out the Chamber has advocated for the construction of the western bypass of U.S. 29, a project that if built would contradict the ACSA’s vision statement to “conserve today, sustain tomorrow, and protect water and environmental resources forever.”
“In the last few years we’ve got some really good evidence to show that as little as 10% of impervious surfaces in the watershed can significantly affect water quality,” Palmer said. “The western bypass [would be] a considerable amount of impervious surface in the middle of our watershed.”
ACSA Board member Jim Colbaugh said he supported O’Connell’s justification for seeking Chamber membership.
“We need to know about what’s being planned for future development in this community,” Colbaugh said. “I think this is a valuable networking tool and a way to understand who is doing what in the community.”
, a recent graduate of the Chamber-sponsored
program, said he thought it was important for the ACSA to have formal and informal relationships with people in the community. Thomas also pointed out that groups such as the
Albemarle County Public Schools
are also members of the Chamber.
In order to move the budget process along, ACSA Vice Chair
suggested adopting a budget with money earmarked for the memberships, but to delay a final decision on whether to actually join until a future meeting.
O’Connell said he would talk with Chamber officials to see if they might allow the ACSA to participate in events without actually becoming members. During the public hearing opportunity, no members of the public provided feedback on the budget, which is scheduled for adoption at the ACSA meeting next Thursday.