Gordon chaired the county-wide group of elected officials that crafted the Schools Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. SAPFO is used to coordinate long-range planning for future school needs and thus it helps to prevent future overcrowding.
Alice proposed the formation of this group of elected officials from the three towns, two school boards, and the county commissioners. She has worked with the other commissioners to fund new schools when they are needed. With the completion of the new schools built during the last few years, the county has built all the schools in the Orange County School (OCS) District that will be needed for the next decade. New schools have also been constructed in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School (CHCCS) District. The county must fund in a timely manner the new schools needed in that district over the next ten years, beginning with elementary school #11.
Gordon will continue her strong commitment to excellent schools, a key element in the county's quality of life. It is important that all children in our county receive a quality education.
Phillips Middle School
Gordon's most important legacy as an environmental leader will be her initiatives to make environmental protection a separate function of Orange County government.
When Alice first became a county commissioner, environmental concerns were handled as part of the overall planning function of the Planning Department. She saw the need for and proposed the creation and establishment of the following new functions to strengthen the county's focus on environmental protection. As a result, environmental protection has its own special place as an integral part of county government.
The Environment and Resource Conservation Department "coordinates county goals for environmental protection, resource conservation, and land acquisition." The department provides staff support for several county advisory boards, including the Commission for the Environment.
The national award-winning Lands Legacy program, administered by the Environment and Resource Conservation Department, is the first comprehensive county land acquisition program in North Carolina. In just ten years of the program's existence, the county has protected over 2500 acres of land, both for natural resource and farmland preservation and for parks. This is a success story that is unusual in North Carolina.
In 2007 this program won the Excellence in County Planning Award from the National Association of County Planners. It was also a finalist for the Leadership in Conservation Award from the National Association of Counties and the Trust for Public Land.
The Commission for the Environment, established in 1997 to advise the commissioners, gave the county for the first time a group to provide advice on air quality and other environmental issues. In recognition of her contributions to Orange County's environment, the Commission dedicated the 2004 State of the Environment Report to Commissioner Alice Gordon.
Gordon will continue to promote the implementation of environmental initiatives, like the Water Resources Initiative.
Creek at Morrow Mill
Members of both the Triangle Transit Board of Trustees and the Durham/Chapel Hill/Carrboro Metropolitan Transportation Association's Transportation Advisory Committee: Bill Bell, Mayor of Durham, and Alice
Gordon, as a current member and former chair of two regional transportation policy decision-making boards, has worked for wise transportation planning in the Triangle area. In particular, she has promoted public transit and other alternatives to cars.
Celebration of Triangle Transit's Route 420 bus service:
Al Terry, Orange County; Alice; Tom Stevens, Mayor of Hillsborough
Alice was a leader of the joint planning endeavor that won that won The National Award for Outstanding Achievement in Metropolitan Transportation Planning. She is shown here chairing a meeting of the Durham/Chapel Hill/Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization during a discussion of the long range plan.
As the DCHC MPO Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) chair, Alice first helped to facilitate the development of the Special Transit Advisory Commission (STAC), a joint advisory committee appointed by the DCHC MPO and the Capital Area MPO (CAMPO). CAMPO is the transportation planning organization for the eastern part of the Triangle. The STAC was charged with developing a fresh vision for transit in the Triangle and making recommendations for the transit section of the LRTP.
Then she facilitated the development of the joint regional plan, working behind the scenes to move the plan forward. The MPOs held two joint meetings in 2008, and the result was a consensus on the main points underlying their first coordinated plan. This 2035 regional long range transportation plan is important because it will guide transportation investments in the Triangle. The Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration commended the two MPOs for their collaborative efforts in producing a joint Long Range Transportation Plan, for joint efforts with respect to the STAC report and implementing transit goals in their transportation systems, and also for the method used for coordinating and streamlining the Air Quality Conformity process. The joint 2035 plan was adopted in June 2009, and for the first time ever there was one coordinated transportation plan for the region, presented in a single document.
2008 joint meeting of the Triangle region's transportation
planning organizations: CAMPO TAC Vice Chair, Vivian Jones;
CAMPO TAC Chair, Joe Bryan; DCHC MPO TAC Chair, Alice Gordon;
DCHC MPO TAC Vice Chair, Mike Woodard
The Research Triangle region in North Carolina covers seven counties and is home to about 1.6 million people. Although this area functions as a single regional economic market, there are two MPOs responsible for the long range transportation planning. As finances dwindle, but regions continue to grow, leaders in the research triangle region started recognizing that collaboration is essential to plan, fund, and operate the needed transportation investments. Starting in 2007, the two MPOs departed from their past practice of creating two separate planning documents for the one region. Instead they came together to produce a joint 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan that was adopted in June 2009. FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) has already commended this effort as an example of, "exemplary practice within the planning process," and today AMPO does as well.
Triangle Transit Board of Trustees with three
members of the North Carolina Legislature
Alice will grapple with the complex issues which we need to resolve before we can devise solutions to the transportation challenges faced by this region. Triangle Transit provides regional transit services, and some areas have local bus service. However, we need other transit improvements including regional rail, or some comparable mode of transportation, to meet our long-term transportation goals. Otherwise we will continue to see worsening traffic congestion and air quality degradation in the Triangle area.
See Awards for information about the Goodmon Award for "Exemplary Regional Leadership by an Elected Official" presented to Alice by Leadership Triangle for her contributions in the areas of environmental protection and regional transportation.
Alice chaired the Triangle Transit Board of Trustees in FY 2007. Here she is shown with her immediate predecessor as Chair, Carter Worthy of Raleigh.