- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Nearly three weeks into her new job as manager of the Waldorf Urban Redevelopment Corridor, Landis Faulcon is anxious to begin community outreach and building partnerships with project stakeholders.
Faulcon said her first days on the job have been spent getting organized and meeting with the county staffers who have led the WURC project in its early stages. Soon, she wants to begin meeting with residents, business owners and community groups within and near the 300-acre corridor.
Eventually, public information sessions will be scheduled to inform residents about the project’s progress, she said.
A Virginia Beach native, Faulcon said she originally learned about the WURC and open position as its manager from family members in Waldorf.
“Building upon the history and the culture of the area” is one aspect that particularly excites Faulcon, she said.
“I’m very happy to be a part of building Waldorf’s future,” she added.
Faulcon’s salary with the county is $97,961. She most recently spent a year in Hampton, Va., as a training and organizational development manager in the city’s human resources department.
Prior to that, Faulcon worked for three years as a revitalization consultant for one of the oldest commercial corridors in Savannah, Ga. That followed eight years spent administering a $100 million federal “empowerment zone” grant as manager of a joint effort between the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va., aimed at boosting economic development in poor neighborhoods.
Faulcon said her past experience has prepared her well for the challenges that lie ahead in leading the WURC project.
“I’ve spent several years working with community and economic development projects involving everything from housing to business developments, to plans for increasing transportation options,” she said.
Envisioned as a mixed-use, walkable downtown area, the WURC corridor follows Old Washington Road between Leonardtown Road and Acton Lane, with U.S. 301 and the CSX rail tracks serving as the western and eastern boundaries, respectively. A critical part of the project is a planned rapid transit system linking the county to Metro service. Local officials have expressed a clear desire for light rail and its economic development potential, but a bus rapid transit system still is possible.
Faulcon is working out of the county government building in La Plata, but plans are for the county to lease her a office within the WURC zone.
Faulcon has yet to meet directly with the Charles County commissioners, though they hope in the near future to have her come before them during one of their meetings.
“We have high hopes for her,” commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) said. “I’m glad she’s here, and I’m looking forward to meeting her.”
“I haven’t met her. I’m looking forward to meeting her though. I’ve heard a lot of good things about her,” board Vice President Reuben B. Collins II (D) said. “Clearly the goal is to have her become the lead person and really direct the process, but interacting obviously with [the Department of Planning and Growth Management].”
Though she understands Faulcon’s desire to meet with those within the WURC, Kelly does not want progress on the project to stall as a result.
“While I think it’s important to meet with stakeholders, a lot of that groundwork has already taken place,” Kelly said. “We don’t need community stakeholders at this point. We need Ms. Faulcon to be in step with staff who have been engaged in this progress for some time. We want to move forward with the studies and everything we need to get federal and state funding.
“One of the things I always worry about, there’s always a learning curve when you come to a new jurisdiction, and sometimes we can waste a lot of time meeting and not working on the project,” Kelly said. “This project is very clearly understood. There’s certain steps you have to take. What we’re doing isn’t brain surgery. It’s been done in other jurisdictions. We’re in the queue, but we’re way back, so we need to keep moving.”