Although President Barack Obama did not come to Reston’s 50th anniversary celebration as President Lyndon Johnson had done at its dedication in 1964, he did send a letter of congratulations to the community’s founder Robert E. Simon
Not that Founder’s Day April 5 was short on dignitaries: Gov. Terry McAuliffe spoke and presented a proclamation; Sen. Tim Kaine spoke at the event, as did Rep. Gerry Connolly, who presented a resolution. Not to be outdone, Sen. Janet Howell and I presented a joint resolution, as did Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and Supervisor Cathy Hudgins.
The occasion was doubly momentous with Robert E. Simon celebrating his 100th birthday a few days later. Congratulations went to Bob Simon for his vision for the community and for his leadership and tenacity in making it happen as well as to the community members who shared the vision and helped to make it a reality over the decades.
Although it was slow in getting started by some business standards, Reston is now recognized as the most successful of planned communities and sets the standard for others. More established cities and communities have their “tower center” with mixed-use development, walkability and plaza, attempting to emulate the success that Reston has found in its recent decades.
Reston is about more than urban design although anyone who studied the subject in college knows about Reston. There are many intangibles that make the community special, and many of them were brought about by Bob Simon’s principles upon which he developed the community. As Kaine indicated in his remarks, Reston had an open housing policy before federal law required it. A recent intergenerational community award demonstrates that the Simon vision of a place to live, work and play for all ages has been achieved. An evening at the Best of Reston program like the one last week gives you a strong sense of the community that exists with an effective partnership between the business and non-profit sectors.
There is a strong sense that Reston has come of age. A significant part of the program time at Founder’s Day was spent on a presentation about the redevelopment of Lake Anne Village Center, the historic heart of Reston. The basic concept of the center will be maintained but expanded to accommodate more people and to ensure its economic viability.
The soon-to-open Wiehle-Reston East Metro station on the Silver Line will be followed in the next four years with two more stations on the Metro system to serve the community. The recently adopted Reston Master Plan takes into account the transit-oriented development that can take place around these transit hubs. In keeping with the Reston spirit, the Wiehle Station has the largest bicycle facility of any station on the Metro system.
Reston is built on a solid vision-strong in human spirit and economically successful. I am proud to call it home.
Ken Plum represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. He writes weekly on Reston Now.