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How Do Reston’s Future Park Plans Measure Up To Tysons?

by Karen Goff — April 29, 2014 at 9:28 am 12 Comments

Pick up soccer in the parkPlanners of Tysons Corner’s transformation from car-clogged roads to a walkable edge city also want to see 154 acres of additional parkland so the expected nearly 100,000 future residents will have places to play.

With an eye on building Tysons into a city, Fairfax County would like to add one-and-a-half acres of parkland per 1,000 residents and one acre for every 10,000 employees (of which there are expected to be more than 200,000 by 2050). Tysons currently has 89 acres of parkland.

In a recently released report on the Tysons Park System Concept Plan, the county said it would need 29 playgrounds, 22 sports courts, 2 dog parks and 1 skate park to meet the needs of the expected population over the next 40 years.

What does this have to do with Reston? Reston, like Tysons, is predicted to experience a boom in growth due to the opening of Metro’s Silver Line, which may go into service in the next few months. It remains to be seen if the large list of recreation recommendations ever come to be in Tysons.

The Reston Comprehensive Plan Amendment that was approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors earlier this year called for the construction of only three playing fields near Reston’s Metro stations, where most of the development will occur and new residents will move.

Those areas have almost no existing park space. The Wiehle-Reston East Station is located in what used to be zoned a strictly industrial/commercial area. With no previous residents, there are no existing residential amenities such as parks and playing fields in the immediate area.

The Reston Master Plan Special Study Task Force had recommended that 12 additional playing fields be constructed in Reston to accommodate 40,000 new residents.

Earlier this year, Reston 2020 co-chair Terry Maynard called the plan for recreation in Reston “unacceptable.”

“The suburban standard is five acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents; the urban one is 1.5 acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents topped with a one-acre dollop of space for every 10,000 employees,” he wrote in an analysis of the field allotments. “In Reston, the county suburban standard would lead to about 270 acres of parkland in the station areas.The urban standard leads to 95 acres in Reston’s station areas.

“The result is that less than six percent of the total Reston station area space will be devoted to parks. By comparison, New York City’s Manhattan Borough, the most densely populated, most densely employed, and most valuable piece of urban real estate in the United States, has more than 19 percent of its land devoted to parks and recreation.”

In Reston, there are no current plan for additional parks, though Baron Cameron Park is in the midst of a Master Plan revision.

Fairfax County Park Authority Board Chair Bill Bouie, a Reston resident, says Reston already has the recreational structure in place, therefore there is not as great a need for major park and playing field expansion.

Reston was planned with open space as a priority, and significant amenities are already here,says Bouie. That includes 55 miles of trails, 16 Reston Association pools, pocket parks, playing fields and three major parks (Lake Fairfax Park, Baron Cameron Park and Brown’s Chapel Park).

Bouie said that fields at Reston schools, including the new turf fields at South Lakes High School, are also considered amenities already in place.

“There is so much here already,” says Bouie. “We don’t have nearly the assets in Tysons.”

In the future, up for grabs in Reston may be the area called Town Center North, which encompasses the site of the recently-closed Cameron Glen Rehabilitation Center. There has been talk of using the 47-acre site, currently owned by the county and by Inova Health Systems, as mixed-use development, the site of the new Reston Regional Library and open space.

Town Center North has also been mentioned as a possible location for a proposed Reston Community Center facility that would include a 50-meter indoor pool.

That $35 million facility has been studied and discussed for more than a year for Baron Cameron Park, which is Fairfax County Park Authority property.

One Baron Cameron Master Plan proposal calls for revitalizing the 10 playing fields there with artificial turf and lights to get more use. The other involves the indoor recreation center — which would mean the park loses several fields to make room for the indoor facility.

The 30-day public comment period for the Baron Cameron Park Master Plan ended Sunday. Bouie said the board will likely vote on it in June.

  • Greg

    I’d like to see the county purchase the Reston National Golf Course and make the land into a combination of natural open space, park and sports fields. This would solve the problem posed by the attempt to re-zone it for development. Golf courses serve the recreation needs of too few people. Or as Rodney Dangerfield’s character in Caddyshack said, “Golf courses and cemeteries are the biggest waste of prime real estate.”

    • Karen Goff

      That’s actually a really good idea. Right now the owners don’t want to sell and the rezone is off the table. But we will see what the future holds. I know of a park in Ohio where a nature conservancy bought a going-out-of-buisness country club on beautiful land for $14 million and donated it to the city for park use. Win-win – and it is a very nice public park now.

      • Leigh

        As someone who lives on Reston National I think this is an awful idea. While I appreciate the need for more rec space the reason we paid top dollar for this house was that we enjoy the peace and privacy the golf course give us, that would all be lost with rec fields in our backyard.

    • Well said. It would be useful to get some stats on how many members Reston National has and how much revenue the membership fees are bringing in.

      • Constance Hartke

        Enough to pay its own way! It’s so nice to have a recreational amenity that is paid for by those who use it (golfers rather than tax payers or Reston property owners under the Reston Community Center Tax) and still offers side benefits to the many locals who walk through and around it, cross-country ski or sled it in the snowy winter and hunt it year round (referring to the wildlife).

  • Mary Sue Lyons

    How is the land Fairfax County owns adjacent to The Paramount going to be use?

    My understanding has been that a new Reston Library would be on the first floor of a much taller building.

    • Karen Goff

      That is the Town Center North area. Yes, the plan, theoretically anyway, is to have the library as part of a mixed use development. But there are no plans drawn up yet. Won’t happen for many years.

  • Chris

    Exactly how many acres of “Parkland” does Reston have presently in its “Station areas”, and how many more would be needed to match the standards specified? As much as I support warranted activism, these posts consistently possess the necessary details to get citizens riled while consistently lacking the details needed to fully understand not just what the problem is but the true scale of the issue. This kind of reporting just leads me to wonder if Reston already has sufficient parks, and a few people are just mad that Tysons are getting some funds to meet the standard and Reston is being “left out” because we’re already there?

    • Karen Goff

      Chris – I will do some more research and write a follow up, but in the meantime if you click through to the complete master plan there is a more thorough examination of the numbers. Part of the concern by some is that there is virtually no existing park space in the immediate area of the Wiehle Metro. Since that land was, until about three years ago, strictly zoned industrial/office with no residential development, there is a dearth of some of those amenities. There are also no playing fields within a quarter-mile of the Reston Parkway station.

  • Constance Hartke

    Chris , have a look
    at analysis done by Reston 2020 – such as http://reston2020.blogspot.com/2013/09/urban-park-wasteland-coming-to-reston.html.

    Karen and Greg, let’s not be too quick to trade one recreational amenity for
    another rather than demanding our fair share.
    According to the County’s Park Facilities Adopted Service Level
    Standards, the coming population of Reston should have 36 holes of golf, which
    we have now in our two courses: http://reston2020.blogspot.com/2013/10/countywide-park-facilities-adopted.html. The original marketing of Reston included
    golf as a major amenity and many folks relied on this when purchasing their
    homes.

    • Karen Goff

      Connie – I was not suggesting trading the golf course in its current state. I meant if it comes down to development or golf, a park would be a good alternative to development, no?

      • Constance Hartke

        Yes! Thanks for the clarification!

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