Colin Mills: RCA’s Resolutions for 2014

Colin Mills/File photoHappy New Year, Reston!  As I enjoy one of my favorite New Year’s traditions, the NHL’s annual outdoor game, I will continue a tradition of my own by sharing my resolutions for RCA in 2014.

Looking over last year’s resolutions, we hit on some and missed on others.  We succeeded in revamping our website and relaunching our newsletter, and John Lovaas did officially turn the candidate forums over to RCA this year.  In other areas, like the Master Plan Task Force, we didn’t have as much success as we would have liked.  Despite that, 2013 was an extremely busy year for RCA, and we wound up dealing with a variety of issues that we never knew would come up when the year started.  Who knew on New Year’s Day 2013 that we’d be fighting to protect our County libraries, or debating the fate of a parcel of trees at Lake Anne, or considering whether or not to build a new RCC rec center?

2014 looks to be another big year in Reston, as we prepare to celebrate Bob Simon’s 100th birthday and our community’s 50th anniversary.  We’re no longer a New Town; we’re a mature community.  And 2014 will inaugurate two things that will likely transform Reston’s future: the Silver Line and the redevelopment of Lake Anne.  The former will spur the growth of new neighborhoods around the stations; the latter will spark the rebirth of Reston’s oldest areas.  Both hold great promise and excitement, but also the possibility of disruptive changes for our community and our citizens.

Like all of Reston’s leading organizations, RCA will be looking toward the future in 2014.  The actions we take now will set the stage for Reston’s next 50 years.  With that in mind, these are my forward-looking resolutions for RCA in 2014:

Advocate for a citizen-driven process for Phase 2 of the Master Plan Task Force. Phase 1 of the Task Force is in the books, and the plan recommendations for the station areas will soon be approved.  In 2014, we will turn our attention to the rest of Reston, most notably the village centers.  The planning we do in this phase will shape what our community looks like in the decades to come.

That’s why it’s essential for Phase 2 to be led by the citizens of Reston, and our vision for the future.  We’ll need to solicit widespread citizen input, and integrate that input into the decisions we make.  I’d like to see RCA work with RA, ARCH, and other citizen organizations to ensure that Phase 2 reflects the vision of the citizens, possibly using the Lake Anne redevelopment process as a model.

Work with other Reston organizations to figure out our infrastructure priorities.  As the Silver Line comes online and development begins around the stations, the new growth will bring challenges for Reston.  We’ll need to address the traffic going to, from, and around the stations.  We’ll need to provide parks and recreation facilities for our new citizens.  We’ll to need to preserve Reston’s open space and natural beauty.

All of these needs, and others, will cost money.  We will be getting some help, in the form of developer proffers as well as County and state spending.  But how will we ensure that money is spent on the priorities that matter most to Reston?  The best way to do this, as I’ve said before, is to create an implementation body similar to Tysons’ “keeper of the vision.”  Failing that, I’d like to see RCA join with other groups to hold community forums aimed at determining our citizens’ priorities, so that our elected officials know what to push for.

Find ways to honor the great Restonians who helped build our community.  I wrote about the idea of creating memorials to our notable citizens last month, and the response to that column has been tremendous.  Lots of longtime Restonians have written to me with their suggestions about who should be honored.  The idea has clearly struck a chord with the community, so I’d like to make it happen in 2014.

I’d like to pull together a group to explore the question of which Restonians should be honored, and how best to do it.  Perhaps we’ll look to put up plaques in prominent locations, or to rename streets or schools.  However we go about it, it will be a great way to help new Restonians connect with our community’s history.

Take on at least one new issue.  This is a carryover goal from last year.  As I mentioned earlier, a lot of unexpected issues rose up quickly in 2013, and we did a good job reacting to them.  But I’d like to see RCA establish a committee to look in depth at one of the many issues that will be facing our community in the coming years.  In order to take on another issue, though, we’ll need to…

Recruit new volunteers for RCA.  We have an extremely hard-working group of Board members and volunteers.  It’s amazing how much we’ve been able to accomplish together.  However, with all the issues and activities we have going on, our folks are at capacity.  If we’re going to do even more for the citizens of Reston, we’re going to need some new recruits.  For people who care about Reston’s future and want to have a hand in shaping it, RCA offers great opportunities to get involved.  And today’s volunteers might well become tomorrow’s Board members.  I expect that volunteer recruitment will be a top priority for RCA in 2014.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of priorities for us in the coming year.  And if 2013 is any indication, we’ll also be taking on a passel of issues we haven’t even imagined yet.  But we’ll be working hard to do right by our citizens in 2014.  I wish all of you good luck, good health, and good times as we get started on Reston’s next 50 years.

Colin Mills is the president of the Reston Citizens Association. He writes weekly on Reston Now.

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