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Letter: ‘You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone’

by RestonNow.com — November 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm 7 Comments

Written by Guy Rando. Submit your letters to the editor to news@restonnow.com.

As someone who was involved in the design of Lake Anne, especially the open space plan, I strongly support the plan for the revitalization of Lake Anne. However, I do not support Reston Association trading away a parcel of mature upland forest for the purposes of building a parking lot.

As you will see from the attached drawings, there are other options for needed parking at Lake Anne.  I believe RA should insist the developer use these options in order to preserve a valuable RA natural area. Do not be the RA Board that “paved paradise and put in a parking lot” because, truly, “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”

Alternative Lake Anne Plan by Guy RandoThere are only two world class elements in Reston:  Washington Plaza and RA open space and natural areas. It would be possible for Lake Anne Development partners to place approximately 200 parking spaces on the Crescent property along North Shore Drive with pedestrian access to the Plaza via Chimney House which would provide direct pedestrian access to the historic Plaza and to our current Lake Anne merchants.

Also the other and best alternative is to eliminate the proposed circular Village Plaza and repeat the mixed use that has been proposed on the east side also to the west side.  Consequently, all the parking will be where it is now above and below ground, closer to the world class historic Washington Plaza.  The developer also has the opportunity for greater densities and higher profits. There is no need to build another plaza to compete with the beautiful historic plaza we’ve got, which is also preserved for future generations to come.

The current merchants must have parking before, during and after the revitalization. Either of the above alternatives would fulfill this requirement.

Our open space is the birthright of our children and future generations.

“We do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them from us?  Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.  Every shining needle, every sandy shore, every humming insect is holy in the memory of and experience of my people.  We know that the white man does not understand our ways.   One portion of the land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes what he need.  The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it he moves on.  He leaves his fathers’ graves and his children’s birthright is forgotten.”  — Chief Seattle in a letter to President Franklin Pierce

Please, let’s leave open space and trees to our children, not a parking garage.

Guy Rando is a longtime Reston landscape architect and urban planner. He will present his alternative plan to the RA Board of Directors at Thursday’s meeting, where they are set to vote on the proposed land swap.

(Sketch of alternative plan courtesy of Guy Rando)

  • John Hunter

    Interesting options. Although I think the idea of having parking on the opposite side of North Shore is a mistake. That road is dangerous enough to cross now so with even more people and traffic it would be worse.

    • Diane Blust

      I suspect with all the new residences on the Crescent site, there will have to be a crosswalk with a light at some point where the sidewalk/trail comes into North Shore from the redeveloped Crescent. I think the idea is for the area to be walkable – so obviously improvements for pedestrian access will have to be made.

      Of course, adding Plaza parking on the west side of the box culvert/sanitary sewer would provide pedestrian access to the entrance to the current Plaza.

    • LesAnn620

      Agreed. The curve you have to navigate when leaving the Lake Anne Plaza is scary as it is. It’s difficult to see traffic whipping around those turns when you’re trying to exit. Additional pedestrian traffic would make it more difficult.

    • Constance Hartke

      An elevated skywalk would have been nice for everyone, including the Crescent residents. Something a creative developer might have come up with if he hadn’t had such an easy choice.

  • Kate Peterson

    Oh my, this may save the trees but it won’t save the Plaza! Parking across North Shore will be the death of this place. The loss of the curve from Crescent down to the new Plaza is awful. I think Mr. Rando should have bid in the County’s RFP process if he wanted his designs to be considered. This isn’t how a selection is made! We have a developer that has been chosen after a long and arduous and I’m sure expensive process. Please can we all get a little perspective here!

    The new information from RA and the developer seems to indicate that the land needed has been reduced by close to 40% and they’ll engage in an extensive tree preservation process starting now- close to 5 years before construction. Is the only answer acceptable to this group zero tree loss? That’s pretty myopic.

  • NotaGG3

    All during the RA meeting where the Board blithely sealed the fate of our upland forest, that tune played in many of our heads. Trust me, RA and the rest of us are going to be national laughing stocks. “Those turkeys really did pave Paradise to put up a parking lot!” will be the mantra. Rather than seeking a win-win, we settled for ecological destruction in return for 120 parking spaces.
    Here’s a clue: much of the time the current LA lot is half-empty, including on Saturday evenings. Merchants at the Plaza are not having troubles because of lack of parking. There is a recession on and the Plaza does not offer a diverse-enough mix of stores. Some of the stores are lovely and offer unique experiences. More of this type are needed.

  • Tammi Petrine

    The solution to the LA plaza parking issue does NOT need to have pedestrians crossing N. Shore Drive. That would be way too dangerous. (But for new Crescent residents, an elevated crossing would be great.) For visitors to the plaza coming by auto, undergound parking is the answer. It could easily be designed to go under the existing LARCA (current) parking lot so customers would have convenient, safe access to old and new stores. To have a separate creepy two story garage structure on the site of the existing wooded acre is terrible. It would not be connected in any way to the plaza so folks would have to walk in dark and bad weather to the plaza. Good luck wth that. I can see lots of people patronizing the grocery anchor and nothing else. With common parking, visitors would have access to the entire plaza and all that it offers. The original plaza is what we want to accentuate, right?
    Guy Rando does not need to have bid on the original project to be qualified to come up with a viable solution. I don’t know why Kate Peterson would disqualify ANYONE who comes up with a win/win for all. Strange. BTW, the developer should not have relied and would not have relied on the RA parcel if someone had not secretly and stupidly opened that door . WHY? Destroying the RA woodland is in DIRECT VIOLATION of both RA and FFX County policy. Neither RA or FFX County should ever have considered using the woods as a parking lot!!! As many have said before, let LAPD fix their problem without using RA property. LAPD wants the RA parcel because it is the CHEAPEST answer to their problem; not because it is the BEST answer.

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