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Lake Anne Plaza’s Unusual Management Makes For Unpredictable Business

by Karen Goff | April 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 509 views | 2 Comments

Jasmine Cafe is closed

When Jasmine Cafe owner Eduardo Faubert found his restaurant, Jasmine Cafe, chained shut earlier this week, it marked a public view of a landlord-tenant battle.

It also gave a glimpse as to the unusual way Lake Anne Plaza’s retail properties are managed.

Most shopping centers are owned by one company and have a uniform management policy. Because of its mixed-use status, Lake Anne’s retail spaces are owned by individual owners and part of a condo association, Lake Anne Reston Condo Association (LARCA), that includes both residential and business members who sometimes have differing interests and priorities.

While a typical shopping center such a Reston Town Center has standard leases and property management standards that regulate everything from business hours to signage, Lake Anne is subject to many different personalities and perspectives.

That has both plusses and minuses, says Rick Thompson, president of LARCA.

“It does allow for variation,” he said. “We are not a cookie-cutter shopping plaza. On the other hand, it allows for outliers. We have owners who take a sabbatical and shut down for two months at a time. That is not helping the plaza. We reasonably should have the expectation that they should be open certain days and hours.

“There has always been some conflict,” he said. “People have their own ideas on what is best. But if some people don’t care, there is no one in charge to say ‘I am the property manager’ ”

Thompson says the condo association and the voluntary Lake Anne Merchants Association both have rules, but they are not enforced as strictly as a typical commercial center. (more…)

Colin Mills: Get Involved In Reston’s Future By Running For RCA Board

by Colin Mills | April 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm | No Comments

Colin Mills/File photoThis is an important and exciting time for Reston. As we celebrate our community’s 50th anniversary and our founder’s 100th birthday, we’ve been looking back at our past and ahead to our future. And as we look ahead, it’s clear that major change is in store for our community.

The Silver Line will soon be open, and that will trigger major redevelopment that will bring great opportunities and great challenges for Reston.

Our original village center, Lake Anne, is about to begin a major revitalization. Our other village centers may have redevelopment awaiting them as well. We’re going to see thousands of new residents and new jobs in the coming decades, which will bring new vitality, but also new demands on our infrastructure. We’re going to need roads, schools, fields, parks, and open spaces for those new Restonians, and we’ll need to provide them with limited resources and without damaging the quality of life for existing Restonians.

There’s a lot going on! And it’s a great time to be involved. There’s no better evidence of that then the large field of candidates (myself included) who ran in the recent Reston Association election. If you’re interested in all the change in Reston and want to be involved, I’d encourage you to get involved in planning our community’s future by running for the RCA Board.

(more…)

Metro Will Give MWAA More Time To Get Silver Line Right As It Eyes Summer Opening

by Karen Goff | April 24, 2014 at 12:48 pm | 164 views | 2 Comments

Wiehle Reston East MetroMetro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles announced an agreement on Thursday with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority that will move the Silver Line closer to opening day, possibly this summer.

Phase 1 of the $5.6 billion Silver Line — which will run from East Falls Church to Reston’s Wiehle Avenue — is more than six months behind schedule.

Under the agreement, Metro will allow MWAA additional time to complete certain items after the project is turned over to Metro, but prior to the start of passenger service, Metro says. Without this agreement, the Airports Authority would have been required to complete all items before Metro takes control, meaning an opening date that would be later in the year.

The Airports Authority is still required to address all priority items — those that affect reliability or require significant track access — prior to handing the project off to Metro. Some examples:

  • Resolving items identified during system performance demonstrations, such as loss of speed readouts (a signal problem that affects reliability)
  • Installation of capacitors to resolve interlocking “bobbing” track circuits
  • Improve the reliability of traction power circuit breakers
  • Completion of all work that requires significant track access or single tracking

“While there are still outstanding items for the Airports Authority and their contractor to resolve, today’s agreement allows us to move this project closer to opening day for our customers by allowing certain tasks to be completed after the project is in Metro’s control,” Sarles, Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement.

“We expect that the Airports Authority will complete the remaining items in a timely fashion, thereby allowing us to open the line this summer.”

VIEW FULL AGREEMENT

MWAA also announced Wednesday that it has accepted Dulles Transit Partners’ declaration of substantial completion — even though there are still many punchlist items that need to be repaired.

 “Achieving substantial completion is a significant milestone,” said Airports Authority President and CEO Jack Potter. “We have conducted a thorough review of the contractor’s submission and are satisfied that Phase 1 has met the contractual requirements that will allow the project to now move to the next steps in the process to begin passenger service.”

After substantial completion, the next major milestone is the “Operational Readiness Date” (ORD), which is when the project is turned over to Metro’s custody and control.  If the Airports Authority completes all priority tasks in a timely manner, ORD may be achieved in late May, Sarles said.

Following ORD, Metro has up to 90 days for testing, employee training and emergency drills prior to the start of passenger service, says Metro.  With today’s agreement, Metro will permit the Airports Authority to use this time to complete remaining tasks including:

  • Providing to Metro safety certification documentation demonstrating that all open items have been closed
  • Resolving traction power reliability issues
  • Executing a contract for the replacement of track circuit modules
  • Resolving leaks and drainage issues
  • Grounding of tunnel handrails and replacement of coaxial cable in the tunnel
  • Replacing public address speakers to meet Virginia Department of General Services requirements
  • Elevator shaft and piston replacement at Tysons Corner station
  • All work required to obtain permanent certificates of occupancy

Many of those tasks were found deficient when DTP first filed for substantial completion in February. DTP was supposed to have addressed and fixed those issues in the interim.

Dulles Transit Partners  filed for “substantial completion” for Phase 1 on April 9. It was the second time the contractor, a division of Reston-based Bechtel, filed. DTP said its work was finished on Feb. 7, but MWAA’s review showed issues in many areas, including ongoing issue with the Automatic Train Control software.

Last week, MWAA awarded a $1.8 million contract to a New York company to upgrade the ATC controls. That could take a year, MWAA said.

Silver Line To Be Deemed Complete — But Handoff Won’t Happen Just Yet

by Karen Goff | April 24, 2014 at 10:15 am | 420 views | 4 Comments

Testing the Silver Line near Tysons/File photo by MWAAThe Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will rule the Silver Line is “substantially complete” today, sources say. But the handoff to Metro still will not happen for a while so there is still no projected opening date.

WAMU reports that  MWAA, which completed its own inspection of the project, will sign off on the project but the handoff will not come for about a month.

WAMATA (Metro) will then have 90 days to conduct its own testing before Phase 1 of the Silver Line, which will run from East Falls Church to Reston’s Wiehle Avenue, would be open to the public.

Construction contractor Dulles Transit Partners  filed for “substantial completion” for Phase 1 on April 9. It was the second time the contractor, a division of Reston-based Bechtel, filed. DTP said its work was finished on Feb. 7, but MWAA’s review showed issues in many areas, including ongoing issue with the Automatic Train Control software.

“We have been looking at the test results from the train control system,” MWAA CEO Jack Potter said on Tuesday.

Last week, MWAA voted to award a $1.8 million contract to Alstom Signaling, the company that built the ATC system, for an upgrade. The system upgrade could take a year, but MWAA officials have said they hope to get the Silver Line operational without it. Extra personnel would be in place in the meantime.

Phase 1 of the $5.6 billion Silver Line is more than six months behind schedule, which is why Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe met with MWAA officials on Tuesday.

“We’re about seven months delayed,” McAuliffe told reporters. “I understand [that] things happen on a project of this scale, this magnitude. But I wanted to know why. I want to know how we’re spending our money. I want to know what’s going on.”

After the one-hour meeting with McAuliffe said he was satisfied with the answers he received.

File photo/MWAA

FCPS — and Community — Will Review 4 Later Start Time Options

by Karen Goff | April 24, 2014 at 9:20 am | 151 views | 2 Comments

Options for later high school start times/Credit: FCPS

The morning bell for Fairfax County Public Schools high school students may ring nearly two hours later if one of several proposals for later start times goes through.

On Wednesday, the FCPS School Board heard from researchers from Children’s National Medical Center. The medical experts were hired by FCPS a year ago to study the effects of chronic sleep deprivation for teens and how other school systems nationwide have adjusted their schedules.

The CNMC panel told the board members that 67 percent of FCPS high schoolers would benefit from any of the four options presented. The options would move the first bell from the current 7:20 a.m. to as late as 9:15 a.m. With the later high school start times, middle school and elementary schools would be altered (see graphic above).

The board approved four options — with start times from 7:50 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. — to be discussed with the community. The estimated costs would be $2.8 million to $7.6 million, mostly for new bus purchases. If any of the four plans are approved they would not go into effect until at least 2015-16.

The school board says there will be community meetings in May and June on the four proposals.

Superintendent Karen Garza says she supports the effort.

“There is a growing amount of research and literature about this issue,” Garza said. “I know the easiest thing in the world is to do nothing. I know not everyone will be happy with a change. But I do think it’s very important that we do it right.”

However, the school system is facing lean times. County Supervisor Sharon Bulova sad this week the school transfer from the county will be $51 million, which is far less than the nearly $100 million she requested from the county. State funds are expected to add $30 million to the school budget for Fiscal Year 2015, but FCPS still will likely make some hard cuts.

Also, in 2009, the last time the board voted on a similar measure, it failed 10-2.

Graphic: FCPS

Thursday Morning Rundown

by Karen Goff | April 24, 2014 at 8:00 am | 170 views | No Comments

Earth Day Planting at Walker Nature Education Center/Credit: Reston Association

Great Grapes Returns — Great Grapes! wine and food festival returns to Reston Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Hundreds of wines will be be available for tasting, along with food vendors and great shopping opportunities. [Great Grapes]

Chapter Two Debuts — The Reston Community Players production of Neil Simon’s Chapter Two opens Friday at the Reston Community Center. Performances are also Saturday, as well as May 2, 3, 4, 9, 10. All are 8 p.m., except May 4, which is a 2 p.m. matinee. [Reston Community Players]

Tops in Contracting — Several big companies with Reston/Herndon headquarters had a great year in government contracting despite 2013′s sequestration. [Washington Business Journal]

Saturday: Southgate Community Day — There will be music, food, games and family fun at Southgate Community Center’s Annual Southgate Community Day on Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. Southgate Community Center located at 12125 Pinecrest Road. The event is free [Fairfax County]

Photo: Earth Day plating at Walker Nature Education Center/Credit: Reston Association

Symposium Will Reflect on Reston’s Vision and Impact

by Karen Goff | April 23, 2014 at 4:40 pm | 53 views | No Comments

Reston Festival, 1960s/Credit: Reston Historic TrustReston’s 50th anniversary events continue April 28 with a symposium sponsored by George Mason University titled “Reston at 50: Looking Back at Forward Thinking.”  

A panel will discuss Reston’s diversity, planning, preservation from 7 to 9:30 pm, at The Reston Community Center.

Reston was a highly innovative yet highly risky plan when founder Robert E. Simon envisioned it in the early 1960s. In an era when suburban tract homes on larger lots were being built, Simon saw European style villages with high-density housing and lots of green space on the open land he purchased near Dulles International Airport.

Panel presenters include: 

Lindsey Bestebreurtje, doctoral candidate in the George Mason University Department of History and Art History, who will address the context of Reston’s groundbreaking policies of integration and diversity.

Harold Linton, Director of the School of Art at George Mason University, will provide a window into the development of the Reston Master Plan and its seven principles of design, design/planning precedents, architecture, success, awards, and liabilities.

William Jordan Patty, doctoral student in the George Mason University Department of History and Art History and Archivist/Librarian with George Mason University Libraries, will highlight the history of the Planned Community Archives,a research collection developed by the community in Reston and donated to the George Mason University Libraries.

Zachary M. Schrag, Professor of U.S. History in the George Mason University Department of History and Art History, will introduce three students scholars selected to present their research on Reston history.

Wendi Manuel-Scott, Director of George Mason University’s African and African-American Studies, will moderate.

This program is cosponsored by George Mason University Libraries and the Reston Museum and Historic Trust and is presented with the generous support of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

The event is free and open to the public.

Photo of Lake Anne Plaza in the 1960s. Credit: Reston Historic Trust

Del. Ken Plum: A Visit To Southwestern Virginia

by Del. Ken Plum | April 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm | 75 views | 1 Comment

Del. Ken Plum/File photoFor many years, Jane and I have used our spring break to visit locations throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

This year was no exception as we went to the southwestern region of the state. Although we drove about 225 miles to Roanoke from Reston, we were not yet in what the locals call Southwest Virginia. In fact, only by driving another 134 miles down I-81 to Abingdon did we get to what many consider the doorstep to Southwest Virginia.

It would have been possible to drive another 111 miles west with a short swing into Tennessee to get to the western-most point in Virginia at Cumberland Gap. That point is further west than Detroit. Regardless of how far you travel, the natural beauty of the mountains and streams in this part of the state are unequaled, and the local people are wonderful to meet.

A visit to the Town of Abingdon is always recommended (visitabingdonvirginia.com). Its historic streets in the center of town are lined with beautiful early Nineteenth Century homes.

Its best known attraction is Barter Theatre, with two stages offering professional productions. The name came from the fact that in 1933 when it was first founded attendees often paid in produce for there was little money to be had.

Abingdon is also the beginning of the Virginia Creeper Trail, southwestern Virginia’s equivalent of the W&OD. It is a 34-mile walking and biking trail that runs by the Holston River and through beautiful mountains. Jane and I took a fabulous 8-mile circular hike from nearby Damascus with half the distance on the Appalachian Trail and the remainder on the Virginia Creeper Trail.

To better understand the history and culture of the region a stop at Heartwood, the Southwest Virginia Artisan Gallery, in Abingdon is a must. While the exhibits are very informative and the creative works of the artisans are beautiful, the structure of Heartwood itself is a work of art and fine craftsmanship.

Southwestern Virginia is filled with wonderful country and bluegrass music. Check the schedule at www.myswva.org for festivals and musical entertainment almost every weekend at some location on the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.

From Abingdon near the Tennessee border we headed almost due north with many, many twists and turns on 70 miles of winding mountains roads to Breaks Interstate Park –”the Grand Canyon of the South”– on the Kentucky border. Almost 200 million years ago the Russell Fork River gouged out a five-mile gorge that created a “break” from crossing the mountains for the settlers passing through the region and spectacular geologic formations and views for modern day visitors. As one local resident advised us, be sure to take the geologic trail to view the wonders of the formations from below.

E-mail me at kenplum@aol.com if you need help planning your trip to the great Southwest or to other regions of the state. It is a great place to visit.

Ken Plum represents Reston in the Virginia House of Delegates. He writes weekly on Reston Now.

Progress Report: Construction at Reston Parkway and Lawyers Road

by Karen Goff | April 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 433 views | 1 Comment

Construction work at Reston South Park and Ride

Several Reston Now readers have asked about construction at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Lawyrers Road near Fox Mill.

A Fairfax County spokesman says the Fairfax County Department of Public Works is constructing bus stop safety and accessibility improvements at the Reston South Park and Ride.

The work includes pedestrian improvements, including sidewalk and  ramps and a new bus stop concrete pad.

In addition to the pedestrian improvements, Fairfax Water is also constructing a 24-inch water main at this location. They are working under a separate VDOT Land Use Permit.

Wednesday Morning Rundown

by Karen Goff | April 23, 2014 at 8:00 am | 86 views | No Comments

Back to Richmond — The Virginia General Assembly will reconvene in Richmond beginning today for a special veto session. [WCYB] RA Covenants Committee Needs You — There are two open…

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