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Morning Poll: Trees or Parking Garage at Lake Anne?

by Karen Goff November 18, 2013 at 8:55 am 1,445 23 Comments

Lake Anne Plaza

There has been much talk over the last several weeks about Reston Association’s potential land swap with Republic Land Development.

Republic is the chosen developer to redevelop Crescent Apartments and the area around Lake Anne Plaza. It needs a 1.1 acre plot of treed land owned by RA in order to build a small parking garage. In return, Republic would give Lake Anne a similar-sized (but not as usable) plot of land off Baron Cameron Avenue and about $500,000 for improvements to Reston facilities.

Many Reston groups, including the Reston Citizens Association, RA’s Environmental Advisory Committee and Sustainable Reston are opposed to the swap, saying it will remove valuable trees and affect stormwater management, among other issues. But many community members say Lake Anne is badly in need of redevelopment and they want to move forward with a revamped village center with better parking.

Read up on the issue on Reston Now.

See supporting documents on Reston Association’s website.

Reston Association’s Board will vote on the issue Thursday. Meanwhile, how do you feel about it?

  • BBurns

    Trees = wildlife. It’s interesting that “trees” are always referred to but not the wildlife that depends on them. Cutting down trees destroys habitat for wildlife – birds, turtles, etc. Box turtles are becoming extinct because they’re buried in construction sites or run over trying to get back to their habitat. Some Fairfax County supervisors and staff will always choose to pave over nature. The suffering it causes birds and animals doesn’t matter.

    • Diane Blust

      What about the suffering it causes to people? When we take away animal habits, we lose the services those animals supply. Like: eating ticks that cause Lyme disease and mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus. I’m not minimizing the distress caused to animals who are our partners in this ecosystem, but I think we need to show people who support wiping out even small natural areas that there is a price to pay in terms of human health.

    • walkingupstream

      This small parcel of land is not home to any box turtles. There may be some birds that stop in there from time to time, and probably a squirrel’s nest or two, but it’s definitely no wildlife sanctuary. Those so concerned about this spot should go over and spend a little time clearing out all the beer cans, cigarette butts, cardboard boxes and other trash that litters the ground there before crying over the loss to the environment. It is a junk piece of land that will go to good use. It’s not a park. It’s much more refuse than it is refuge.

  • Kelly D

    I don’t understand why RA has to swap a piece of good land for a less valuable piece of land when the LA condo association already owns land near Heron House that could be used for expanded parking.

  • Sheila Barrows

    I thought this area was designated natural in perpetuity. If so, how can this even be considered? We need to save every green space we can, and the growth on this land can’t be duplicated. Surely there is another place to put parking.

  • Caitlin Lundquist

    Lake Anne will be revitalized without this land swap happening. They can and should reach a compromise that does not put this stand of mature forest that is designated park land at risk of becoming a parking lot.
    I really don’t like the way the issue is covered here or the way the question is phrased. The land swap was something the developers snuck into the plan after public comment periods closed which changed an agreement had previously been approved and it should be taken off the table as an option for development.

  • Kelly D

    I’m not sure but I think the trees that would be removed are actually the ones in the picture above, and then more to the left.

    • Diane Blust

      And the ones that will remain will have compromised root systems and a changed water supply – so they will eventually die.

  • Charles Peters

    Natural Area Parkland should not be cleared for a commercial parking
    lot and should never have been offered up as a development option –

  • Constance Hartke
  • Kate Peterson

    I find it kind of mind boggling that this has become such a huge issue. The County has been working on this with RA and Lake Anne for years. So now we’re here at the edge of doing something great that will make the entire Lake Anne community sustainable for the next 50 years and we’re going to throw it away!? Shocking!

  • Rick Thompson

    I think this email from Cheryl Terio-Simon states the issue very well.

    From Cheryl Terio-Simon:
    Five years ago Reston Association’s initial efforts to restore the streams and watershed damaged by erosion met with irate concern from many about the loss of trees necessitated by that project. Today it is generally acknowledged that the
    short term loss of some trees was necessary to benefit the greater system, and
    the project areas are deemed beautiful.

    The Lake Anne community redevelopment project has a similar goal, the long-term restoration of Reston’s first and some say only village center.

    Lake Anne Village is symbolic of the vision that created Reston. Bob Simon’s seven goals describe a balance of the need for housing for all, diversity within a community, amenities, and beauty–structural and natural.

    Lake Anne Development Partners has been selected to lead this redevelopment at least in part because of the sensitivity that they and their architects have shown to the original vision. Its plan provides for much needed diversity in housing as well as the promise of revitalization of the Village’s retail and commercial base. In a truly mixed-use community the commercial and residential sectors are interdependent.

    Looking at the total site, the unused and neglected 1.01 acre RA parcel under consideration by this RA Board is essential to make this redevelopment work. No other parking site will sensibly benefit the existing and new portions of the plaza with so little disruption to the residential community.

    Reston Association owns and maintains 1,350 acres of open space, one seventh of the total land in Reston. This controversial 1.01 acre, which is hardly the gem of RA’s
    properties, is 0.0751% of the total acreage. And this percentage is not lost in the exchange; a slightly larger parcel is being swapped which will provide a needed green buffer next to Baron Cameron at the Crescent property. Additionally, not all the trees on this site will be removed for the parking structure, and RA will be receiving other significant proffers in the exchange.

    I hope we all can achieve some perspective about what is important here.

    While we can all agree that the preservation of natural beauty has made Reston a unique place to live work and play, what is at stake here is an opportunity to restore the total Reston vision. I hope we can see the community for the trees.

    • Tammi Petrine

      The hue and cry that the revitalization of LA is threatened by re-location of the merchant parking to an area OTHER than the grove of old trees is a red herring. Both Rick Thompson and Mrs. Bob Simon both have significant financial stakes in this deal and stand to profit from locating parking on RA’s wooded plot. They are members of LARCA which owns the huge parking lot west of Heron House. That is where the needed LARCA merchant parking lot should/could go so that the revitalization could proceed successfully. Why should RA sacrifice natural areas for parking when other obvious solutions exist? C’mon, folks. We need to protect our environment. If we don’t, who will? RA has environmental standards which must be upheld. Likewise, stakeholders with obvious financial interests in the LA project should be honest and identify themselves in public comments. This whole under-the-covers aspect of this issue is extremely disturbing.
      These comments are mine as a private citizen and 37 year dues payer to RA.

      • Rick Thompson


        First, both Cheryl Terio-Simon and I have the same “financial
        stake” in Lake Anne’s re-development as do each of the other 129 owners of the Condo, and any income the Condominium receives would be used to reduce the maintenance costs of the property.

        The “HUGE” parking lot to the west of Heron House to which you refer is exactly 72 spaces—so not really that large. By deed, we are required to make that lot available to the Lake Anne office building. So to accommodate that requirement and add 120 parking spaces, a 3 story garage would be needed.

        As to the question of the site’s commercial viability, the Condominium, in its recent letter to the RA Board, has enumerated a number of
        reasons why the use of this site as a primary commercial lot would be totally unsatisfactory having the effect of undermining the businesses and vitality of the existing Plaza. A few simple characteristics should illustrate this conclusion about the site you are apparently advocating: 1) the driving distance from the entrance to Lake Anne to the site is .25 miles through residential neighborhoods, 2) with no ADA access possible, one would have to walk down 38 stairs through a narrow opening to get to the Plaza, 3) the 3 story garage would be situated in front of existing residential units about 100 feet away, 4) the additional traffic to the garage would be added to a two way street already serving a 4 story office building and 99 residential units. We think these characteristics eliminate this site as an alternative to the use of the RA parcel.

      • Laura Ramon

        So Tammi- have you got any actual facts about significant financial stakes, other than that fact that these poor dopes are owners who are footing the bill to provide a public place for the likes of you?

        So this time you’re a “private citizen” tossing out innuendo and misinformation as apposed to when you’re doing it on behalf of RCA? Thanks for clearing that up.

      • John Hunter

        I have not heard from anyone that the revitalization of Lake Ann is threatened by this issue. On the contrary this is just another issue to be worked through.

  • Constance Hartke

    Pretend for a moment that the RA parcel did not exist. What would Republic do? Give up or find a solution? The issue here is much bigger than the land swap: http://reston.patch.com/groups/connie-hartkes-blog/p/lake-anne-land-swap-violates-ra-and-county-environmental-policies

    • John Hunter

      Of course they would have to find another spot however this spot does exist and is in a prime location so not sure what pretending it is not there does.

  • Lakedweller

    Some local “folks” have been spray painting or “tagging” those trees with 18th Street Gang graffitti lately. 18th Street Gang competes with MS-13 for turf. RA will be able to paint over the graffitti easier on the parking structure : )

  • Fair and Balanced

    The creator of this poll is obviously biased and is not
    objective. If you answer the question YES then you agree that “We have plenty
    of trees and the area needs better parking”. I do not believe that we have plenty of trees.
    I believe there is a greater purpose served by redevelopment of Lake Anne and
    the loss of the few trees is the price to help all the struggling store owners and
    the Lake Anne residents for decades to come.

  • Charlotte Geary

    When the RA board votes on Thursday, I hope they realize that several of the outspoken opponents of the land swap are uninformed of the redevelopment plan. It sounds like some of these opponents don’t even know the plaza area very well and are making uninformed opinions.

    I live in Washington Plaza Cluster, I use the plaza businesses several times a week, I have reviewed the redevelopment plans, and I am very familiar with the trees in question. They are not a park. We would not be losing parkland and turning our only trees into a concrete jungle. These trees are on a small stretch of land near my house. If we lost them, there would still be hundreds of other trees surrounding this area, and also we would have an increased chance of businesses thriving in this community.

    As a resident of Washington Plaza and a supporter of plaza businesses, I support the land swap.

    • John Hunter

      I agree whole-heartedly.

  • cheryll P

    I think that Lake Anne should just fade away so we can forget what Reston’s heart was all about! NOT!!! I cannot believe that there is such opposition to revitalization of this historic area – admittedly I have only live here for 33YEARS but during that brief 33 years, I have seen many changes and many trees taken down to develop new centers and businesses in the name of growth – but to save and restore the heart of Reston has become an issue of this magnitude – trees down, parking good, a livelier Lake Anne good – simple enough??


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