Building Amazing Cities
By JIM HUNT
author, speaker, consultant
I recently visited Prince William County Virginia to speak to the Prince William Chamber of Commerce on my new book, The Amazing City-7 Steps to Creating an Amazing City.
While I have traveled throughout the Northern Virginia area over the years, I don’t think I ever had been to this beautiful county on the suburbs of Washington, DC. Home to over 400,000 residents, Prince William County is home to the communities of Woodbridge, Manassas and Quantico, among others. With its close proximity to Washington, D.C., the county is one of the fastest growing in the country and new housing seems to be cropping up on every corner.
As I took the exit off Interstate 95, I was immediately struck by how different it was from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Although there were plenty of ‘big-box’ stores and restaurants, you could tell that it had plenty of the character and charm of a smaller town life style. The Civil War figures prominently in the history of the area with the First Battle of Manassas being known as the first land battle of the Civil War. The railroad crossing, known as Manassas Junction, was small but played a strategic role in the war since it had rails leading to Richmond, VA, Washington, D.C. and the Shenandoah Valley.
My host for the event was Jason Parsons, the Executive Director of the Keep Prince William County Beautiful organization, an affiliate of the Keep America Beautiful campaign on a national level. I had met Jason in Morgantown, WV when he was Student Body President and I was leading the Sunnyside Up organization. Jason is a talented young man and is doing a great job making Prince William County a clean and sustainable place.
My presentation was part of a joint effort by the Prince William County Chamber and the Keep Prince William Beautiful group and was held at the beautiful Old Hickory Golf Club in Woodbridge. Debbie Jones is the President and CEO of the Prince William Chamber and explained to me that they have a healthy membership of over 1,200 members and put on hundreds of events each year to be the voice for the business community in the region. They also work closely with the local government, and I was pleased to meet several of the Prince William Board of Supervisors at the luncheon event.
One highlight of the trip was a visit to the Prince William solid waste facility. While this seems odd to be the highlight of the trip, they are doing some amazing things at this facility and it encompasses a wide range of services that makes it one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the country. In addition to processing waste in a traditional landfill, the residents of Prince William County can bring recyclables, electronics, refrigerators, air conditioners and other items for disposal. They also provide compost to the residents and are developing a model wetlands project and nature trail at the site. As we drove around the area, we saw about 30 turkeys and the director said that an eagle is usually around but it did not show up during my visit. They are also going to be installing solar panels on the covered areas of the landfill in addition to the power plant that is currently in operation. This type of facility is a model for how we will be handling waste in the future and I was impressed with the professionalism and organization of the facility.
My visit to Prince William County left me wishing I had more time to explore this AMAZING part of the country and I look forward to returning in the future.