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McLean Community Center seeks more visibility with draft plan for next five years

McLean Community Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

It is now the public’s turn to weigh in on the future of the McLean Community Center.

The agency released a draft of its new five-year strategic plan last week ahead of a public hearing scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on July 6.

Residents of Dranesville Small District 1A, which funds MCC through a special tax, can also take an online survey to comment on the draft plan, which lays out the center’s goals and values for the near-future and strategies for how to achieve them.

“It is important for the community members to provide feedback so that we keep their priorities in the forefront of our path forward,” MCC Executive Director Daniel Singh said. “It is an opportunity to concentrate MCC staff efforts on program development that is relevant to and reflects the genuine public interest.”

Developed by the consulting firm AMS Planning & Research, the strategic plan has been in the works since last fall and comes at a time of change for the community center, which is adjusting to its first new executive director in over a decade and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since he took over MCC’s top staff position in May 2021, Singh and the governing board have prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion, but a crowded election this spring brought out some tension in the community over those efforts and the overall direction of the organization, which provides civic, educational, recreational, social, and cultural programs.

MCC also wants to stay “responsive and relevant” as its 50th anniversary arrives in 2025 and McLean evolves, Singh says, pointing to a potential amphitheater in nearby McLean Central Park and anticipated downtown redevelopment as factors to consider.

Listing Reston Community Center among the similar groups AMS researched for “best practices,” the draft strategic plan proposes equity, innovation, responsiveness, sustainability, transparency, and joy as key values for MCC to uphold.

It also lays out five goals for the future:

  • Be visible — expand MCC’s presence online and in the broader community
  • Welcome all of McLean — promote inclusiveness, including by engaging different parts of the community, making the website more accessible, and adding amenities
  • Invite discovery — respond to “topical concerns” and fill gaps in the area’s existing program offerings
  • Showcase excellence — find new ways to deliver programs that reflect community needs
  • Model sustainability — review and improve governance, financial, and environmental practices

“We strongly believe that for MCC to be sustainable and successful, this new holistic approach is key,” Singh told FFXnow by email.

Surveys of MCC’s staff and the public conducted as part of the strategic planning process found overall support for the center, but responses suggested that the available programs could be more accessible and more effectively advertised.

“We are already providing a majority of the classes, events and activities folks were asking for,” Singh said. “What we are trying to figure out is the best way of getting this information to the public so they are aware of the offerings.”

When asked what they hope to see as future priorities, participants in the community survey, which drew about 760 responses, ranked performances and events for kids, teens, and seniors as their top choices.

MCC doesn’t have an exact timeline for when the strategic plan will be finalized, but Singh says there will be a break between the public hearing and a vote by the governing board so the public comments can be integrated into the document.

“It is a critical time to evaluate the findings to date and reflect upon what we have shaped as our goals and strategies going forward,” he said.

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